I found 3 mystery scrapbooks a few years ago at a community thrift sale down the road. Opening them up I discovered a treasure trove of vintage Christmas cards and knew immediately that they’d have to come home with me.
Being a collector, I sometimes find myself collecting other people’s collections. It breaks my heart when I see a collection – of cow creamers, vintage postcards, or anything that someone took the time to amass and curate, just dismissed as stuff to give away – because I know that is probably what will happen to my stuff too one day. Snowdomes, anyone? So when I can, I try to find them a good home.
Like the discarded home movies I “rescued” I want to say, “I think you have value, and the person who created you obviously thought so too. Come home with me, where you’ll be appreciated, you don’t belong in the trash bin!” This is why I stay out of pet stores too…
Now I know that we all could easily be overwhelmed by trying to absorb everyone elses’ collections into our own lives, however, when I find collections that align with my interests, it’s a good fit. Like one man’s treasure is another man’s, trash, one man’s trash is sometimes Mod Betty’s treasure!
I don’t know much of anything about this mystery collector, as only the fronts of these cards were pasted into each page, with no signatures or personalization. Without these easy indicators all I can do is put on my art history major/ Nancy Drew hat and pick up some clues.
The story I have invented so far is that these were cards received in the late 1950s – early 1960s, as the graphic design has the feel of that time frame. And the designs? I’m blown away by the creativity, the detail, the different approaches that were taken with each card.
Knowing especially that they were all done by hand, prior to the advent of computer assisted design programs and online custom card creation, I can’t help but think that certain creative talents like this are being lost to history because of the convenience of the modern computer world.
I’m almost 100% certain that the collector was a man, as many of the cards have images that indicate male dominated interests of that time – golf, fishing and the stock market, among others. Other than that, he’s a mystery guy, who liked these Christmas cards enough to save them and assemble them into books to keep until they were, for whatever reason, no longer in his possession.
I hope that collecting these cards and assembling these books brought joy to Mr. Collector. Remembering who sent the card, and enjoying the designs, figuring out what cards to paste on what page, and being proud of the final result. I would like to pretend that he brought them out every year, and reminisced about good times past, and that this brought a warm feeling to him.
I know that I like to bring out these scrap books every year, and put them on display for the holidays. Our yearly open house is a bit too crazy for anyone to take the time to sit down and marvel over these beauties, but even the glimpse of them on display makes me feel like we’ve invited the collector to join in on our yearly celebration, and that his work still goes on and is appreciated.
What can I say? I’m an old softie, even when it comes to people I’ve never met.
I want him to know somehow that his efforts were not in vain, and that this little legacy, no matter how small, lives on. And don’t we all want to feel that way? That the efforts we make now towards something good, no matter how small, will somehow be remembered and live on, long after we’ve passed?
And this is why Mod Betty still sit down every year and hand writes and address Christmas cards to her nearest and dearest.
We all know I’m old fashioned (and I don’t mind it) but I do honestly enjoy Christmas card time. Looking at how the recipient list has stayed the same mostly, but has changed as the years pass. People move – from house to house, in and out of our lives, and from this mortal coil. During the time spent writing the card and even addressing them, that person is in my thoughts that entire time, wondering how they are and hoping they’re doing well.
I too save the Christmas cards we receive every year, and bring them out with the Christmas decor! I love to shuffle through them – seeing the photos of the round headed babies from cards from years ago emerge as actual little people. See the handwriting of the relatives that I can recognize immediately from the envelope, and reviewing the annual updates of how folks are doing – the old fashioned yearly pre-”Facebook update”, updates.
And remembering how quickly life passes – round headed babies turn into teens in a blink – and how we should enjoy and appreciate every moment, no matter how small.