Haunted Postcards
“Hallowe’en” was another reason to send postcards wishing happy times, good fortune and warm regards. As some of these cards show, Halloween was not only celebrated with children “trick-or-treating” but with parties for young adults. A popular superstition held that if a young woman gazed into her reflection on this night, she would see the face of the man she was destined to marry. Like many valentines of the era, some of the cards took a mocking tone to show someone rather less than “Prince Charming” in the maiden’s future.

In other cards, jack-o’-lanterns appear as jolly figures of fun, while witches fly on broomsticks, wear long pointy hats and have feline sidekicks. One card puts a “high tech” spin on Halloween by showing a witch flying an airplane. Another card shows a witch riding a pumpkin pulled by a dogsled team of bats! Full of beautifully-printed images in autumn colors, these postcards from the New York Public Library Picture Collection are also displayed on the Library’s Digital Gallery.

The playful style and breezy content of the postcards vividly evoke an era of frequent correspondence on every possible occasion, in which postcards served as the “email” of their time.

To see more holiday postcards (hint: Thanksgiving and Christmas approach) visit Holiday Postcards from the Picture Collection. And here's a secret: if you visit the Picture Collection on the 3rd floor of Mid-Manhattan Library, you'll find plenty of ghostly images on more than postcards!
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