Five weeks ago I invited readers of this column to return in one week for another vintage Yuletide season postcard. However, life intervened and my attention was diverted to other matters.
Apologies for the lapse, but with only a week left before Christmas Eve, the Society catches up on lost time and offers these charming early 20th century holiday greeting postcards with an aeronautical theme for your enjoyment.
Above, Santa delivers toys suspended from a basket attached to a zeppelin, or airship, while at right he dangles beneath a hot-air balloon.
At left, St. Nick drops presents from what is ostensibly a Wright Brothers era aircraft.
Perhaps the artist did not fully understand the principles of powered air flight since Santa might not complete his rounds without an engine and propeller. No doubt, some sort of secret from Santa’s Workshop kept the craft aloft.
Ten years after the famous first flight of the Wright Brothers this 1913 design by John Winsch, at right, still has Santa buzzing snow-covered rooftops and dropping presents to children from an unpowered glider. Better not question Santa’s propulsion system too closely, kids.
The penned message found on the other side of this card reads: “Little niece, Hope he spills his pack over your house like this, don’t you? Love, Aunt Blanche” Mailed from Canastota (sic), NY and addressed to Baby Margurite Flick, RD No. 2, Box 59, in Pawnee Rock, Kansas.
Even if the artists did not depict quite accurately what was then the cutting-edge science of the day, their intention was clear — to show that St. Nick was a thoroughly modern guy and to capture some of the public’s enthusiasm for such emerging technology and have it translate to greater postcard sales.
Apparently, it worked, for according to US Post Office figures, in 1913, the number of postcards sent in the US alone was 968,000,000, more than 7 per person.*
We close with this 1915 holiday greeting which reads: “Now I use my airship / On my annual Xmas trip / It’s full of Toys and Candy too / And I’m flying straight to you.”
What does a modern 21st century Santa use for transportation in 2012? Does he travel by space shuttle, airbus, or will he subcontract the job out to a common carrier?
The Historical Society of Riverton wishes you the Warmest Greetings of the Season and Best Wishes for Happiness in the New Year. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
P.S. The next edition of the Gaslight News, expected out shortly after the first of the year, will have a dues renewal form in it for the convenience of members as well as details of the next meeting scheduled for January 24th.