Christmas greeting, 1919
Merry Christmas wishes to all! This 1919 vintage novelty postcard has a rebus Christmas greeting sent to Marjorie Lee from her godmother, Victoria Anderberg. Mrs. Anderberg’s husband, Nicolas, was a Seattle Policeman and friend of I.C. Lee. The publishing information is given as Whitney Made, Worcester, Mass. Whitney Made postcards were started by a Civil War veteran, George Whitney of Worcester, Massachusetts. Beginning around 1900 to about 1920 this company produced huge numbers of greeting cards, postcards, children's books, paper toys and novelties. There were several hundred designs issued for the various holidays throughout the year. In addition to plain cards Whitney added lace and embossing on some of the cards. Other cards had mechanical parts added. The Christmas cards, particularly the ones with Santa and Nimble Nicks, were American originals and very popular. The postcards either have "Whitney Made," as seen on the reverse of this card, or a red W as trademarks.
Rebus puzzles have been around for centuries and use pictures to represent words or parts of words. The pictograms or pictographs are used for their sounds regardless of meaning. The simple example used on the greeting postcard above was meant to be easy enough for a child to figure out and clever enough to appeal to an adult. In the 1860s to the 1870s escort cards often featured such puzzles as a fun way for a gentleman to ask a young woman if he could walk her home. Some linguists believe that Chinese characters and Egyptian hieroglyphs used a similar principle. In modern times there have been television game shows such as Kidstreet, Concentration, Catchphrase, and Crashbox that have used rebus puzzles. Several famous people have employed a rebus as a personal device representing a name or as a means of communicating with friends.
For more interesting trivia about rebus puzzles and the Whitney Made cards, see: