About the Artist's
Ellen Clapsaddle was a very prolific postcard
artist. After a small amount of study, her artistic style is easily
recognized, whether signed or not. Her children are the most sought
after cards, though she did simple landscapes, animals, modest Christmas
scenes and sampler type cards.
She designed thousands of images for postcards
during her career and wrote the verse for her work.
Clapsaddle worked for several publishers, including Raphael Tuck,
and the International Art Publishing Company, owned by the Wolf family.
In 1917, she invested her life savings in the Wolf Publishing Company
and did nearly all their published designs. However, during the war,
paper and printing inks were at a premium resulting in a poorer quality
product. After the war interest in postcards waned and Wolf closed in
Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle was born in South Columbia,
New York, on January 8, 1865. Descendants
of the American Revolution, her parents Dean and Harriet Clapsaddle
educated Ellen in the rural schools until sending her to Richfield
Springs Seminary where she graduated in 1882.
After Richfield, Clapsaddle attended the Cooper Institute in New
York City for two years where she developed her artistic talent. In
1885, she returned to South Columbia where she did china painting and
home decorative painting, like boudoir screens. After her father's death
in 1891, she and her mother moved to Richfield Springs to live with her
aunt. In 1898, Ellen and
her mother traveled to Europe at the expense of the International Art
Publishing Company. Clapsaddle's mother died in 1905 and Ellen moved to
New York City. She traveled several times to Europe for the company and
was in Europe when World War I broke out, but friends managed to bring
her back to New York.
Because of the failed Wolf Company, Ellen Clapsaddle died destitute at the Peabody Home in New York on January 7, 1934. She was buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Richfield Springs, New York, where her parents were buried.
Gassaway designed postcards for Raphael Tuck, National Art, Rotograph
and Ullman Manufacturing Company from 1906 to 1909. Much of Gassaway's
work for Tuck is unsigned, but her distinctive style is easily
recognized. A wonderful series she did for Tuck is number 501, Crimson
Her children have big expressive eyes and very round faces. The style is bold and simple with plain backgrounds. One Rotograph set, featuring children of many nations, is highly collected, but most collectors underrate much of her other work. Her signature is as stylized as her work, with carefully printed letters spelling Katharine Gassaway surrounded by a rounded corner box. Her work is as good in quality as Drayton, Clapsaddle or O'Neill, but at a fraction of the cost.
Catherine Klein was born in 1861 and died in 1929. She created some of the most sought after floral designs. Raphael Tuck & Sons, International Art Company, Theo. Stroeffer, and Meissner & Buch published her work. Klein created over 2000 still life portraits featuring fruits, vegetables and nuts.
The Klein alphabet series 148 is the most desirable of her postcard work. While the alphabet design seems to pop off the page in black and white, the subtle use of color makes these cards sometimes hard to distinguish from her regular floral work. The letters U-V-W-X-Y-Z are the hardest to find.
The cards are most often collected by china painters to help them understand the subtle use of shading, which was her forte. Besides postcards, she created book illustrations and yard long pictures. Modern greeting card companies have reprinted her work.
Cecil O'Neill was born, June 25, 1874 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Her
father, William, wanted her to be an actress and taught her to recite
Shakespeare. She absorbed the love of poetry from her father, who sold
used books, especially poetry. Her mother, Alice, specialized in music
and was a teacher. O'Neill learned to play piano pieces by Bach, Chopin
an exceptional financial provider, William O'Neill showered his family
with the riches of culture. From Pennsylvania, her father moved the
family to Nebraska where, at 14, O'Neill won a drawing competition
sponsored by the Omaha World
Herald. During the next two years, she did illustrations and poems
for the Omaha World Herald and the Omaha
nineteen, she had written a novel. With this book and many drawings in
her portfolio, O'Neill traveled to New York. She stopped to see the
World Columbian Exposition in Chicago where she saw, for the first time,
the world of modern painting and sculpture. In New York, O'Neill
attended the Convent of the Sisters of Saint Regis. She sold
illustrations to Truth, Collier's Weekly, Harper's Monthly, and Bazaar to finance her education. While she was in New York, her
father moved the family to the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.
When O'Neill returned home and saw Bonniebrook for the first time, her
journey from the Springfield train station took two days by wagon.
Today, the trip takes minutes.
Ruggles wrote in her book One Rose, "her heart became entangled with its charms, making her a willing slave to its allure for the rest of her life. It was her retreat when tired of the fast pace of city life, a haven of peace when her heart needed healing. She was a child of nature and everything about Bonniebrook enthralled her, feeding and making fruitful her imagination.
When she finally retired, Bonniebrook was the choice of all the places
O'Neill had encountered. She brought pieces of her former homes with
her, a fluted column from her home in New York, and a ten foot
sculptured piece called, The Embrace of the Tree, which stood in the gardens of Carabas,
O'Neill's home in Connecticut. The house was always overflowing with her
father's books but she added her second husband's, noted playwright
Harry Leon Wilson, and her personal collection.
O'Neill married Gray Latham in 1896. They lived in New York while she worked for Puck, signing her work O'Neill Latham and producing over 700 drawings. This marriage lasted five years. It is said the world knew of the impending breakup before he did. When examining her work in Puck, we see the strong O'Neill-Latham signature turn into O'Neill with a "lazy L.' She was phasing Mr. Latham out of her life and work.
O'Neill returned to Bonniebrook, where she received daily unsigned
letters of affection from Puck's literary
editor, Harry Leon Wilson. She had never formally met Wilson, but he had
always admired her. When he heard of the divorce, he dreamed, what he
thought was, the impossible dream. In 1902, Wilson left Puck
and went to Bonniebrook to marry O'Neill. This marriage lasted six
years, but she called him, even late in life, 'The Beloved."
O'Neill returned to Bonniebrook to gain strength and hope for the
future. This time she created the Kewpies. They first appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, in December of 1909. From this beginning,
Kewpies appeared for nearly twenty five years in such publications as Ladies'
HomeJournal, Woman'sHome Companion, Good Housekeeping, and Delineator. The
first dolls were manufactured in Germany under the supervision of
O'Neill and her sister, Callista. Because Rose was a smart business
person, her Kewpie licensing for products produced over a million
dollars. She also knew how to spend money. She expanded Bonniebrook to
8, 000 square feet with modern conveniences like plumbing and
electricity. Both of which were nearly unheard of in the Ozarks.
From 1912 to 1914, O'Neill stayed in Europe. With the war coming, she
and Callista moved to Washington Square in New York City. They took two
adjoining apartments and entertained friends, nonstop, for years. The
song, Rose of Washington Square was
written about Rose O'Neill.
April of 1921, O'Neill had an exhibit of her Sweet Monster drawings at the Galerie Devambez in Paris. This
exhibit gained her a position as an associate of the Societe des Beaux
Arts. From France, O'Neill went to Spain, Italy and back to England.
While in Italy she purchased the villa of Charles Coleman, with the
understanding he was to stay as long as he lived. When Coleman died, he
willed the contents to O'Neill, which included many important works of
In 1925, O'Neill returned to New York and exhibited her Sweet Monsters in the Wildenstein galleries. From New York, the sisters went to Carabas Castle, near Westport, Connecticut. She had purchased this mansion in 1922. O'Neill had a huge steam boiler cast for this residence in the shape of a Kewpie.
Carabas she created Scootles who first appeared in The Ladies' Home Journal in April, 1925. Scootles, like the Kewpies
before her, was made into a doll after her print success. The soft
Kuddle Kewpies were created at Carabas.
In 1936, O'Neill retired to Bonniebrook. She remarked, "I love
this spot better than any place on earth.” Here she wrote her
autobiography, did illustration work and lectured on her life. In 1940,
O'Neill created the Ho-Ho, a little laughing Buddha. She finished her
memoirs, but died April 6, 1944 before they could be published.
O'Neill is buried in the family cemetery at Bonniebrook with her mother, brothers and sister. In 1947, Bonniebrook burned to the ground. Through the efforts of Kewpie collectors, the Bonniebrook Historical Society has rebuilt the house with exacting detail.
Felton Outcault was born on January 14, 1863 in Lancaster, Ohio. He
studied art at McMicken University in Cincinnati. On Christmas Day,
1890, he married Mary Jane Martin and moved to Long Island, New York.
came from a wealthy family and was a free-lance cartoonist for Life,
Judge, Truth and the New York World.
For the World, Outcault created the first page of cartoons to be
printed in color. The series, Hogan's
Alley, featured a small bald child in a yellow night-shirt, the
Yellow Kid. Outcault never gave the child that name. The public and
Hearst did, when he hired Outcault away from the World
combination of Hearst's sensationalist journalism and the flashy Yellow
Kid series, led to the term Yellow Journalism. Outcault hated the
squabbling the comic page caused between the two papers. He dropped the Yellow
Kid and created for the Herald,
Poor Li'l Mose. This black child, featured in caricature, didn't
carry the interest of the Yellow
Kid and Outcault replaced him with Buster
Brown in 1902. The models for Buster Brown and Mary Jane were his
Brown's balance between hell raising and propriety didn't offend
Outcault's social circle. He was a healthy boy dressed in a way parents
found attractive, and copied for their children's clothing.
wisely controlled the rights to his characters and by 1905 was earning
more by producing clothing and artifacts than from the comic strip.
A wealthy man by 1910, Outcault treated Buster as a hobby, which he finally gave up in 1920, though the reprints continued until 1926. He gave the Outcault Advertising Company of Chicago to his son when he retired. He died on September 25, 1928, at the age of 65. Outcault was hailed as the "father of the modern newspaper supplement.”
Buster Brown and Tige appeared in newspapers, books, advertising premiums and on postcards. Hearst's Sunday newspapers issued sheets of postcards that the readers cut apart. McIntosh published a ten card set, titled Buster Brown and his Bubble. Tuck, Tammen and Ullman published many Outcault postcards.
The rarest postcard sets of Outcault's work feature the Yellow Kid character. These elusive cards usually are from the calendar series and no complete set featuring the Yellow Kid has been found.
The rarest Buster Brown Postcards by Outcault are the six card set
issued by Bloomingdale's department store of New York as advertising
Wall was born in Buffalo on December 30, 1872 and died in Los Angeles on
February 9, 1956.
first job was with Ullman, who had hired him to create illustrations for
their frames to increase sales. When a postcard company stole Wall's
designs, Ullman changed from frame production to postcards. Wall's Sunbonnet girls were a great success, as were Little Breeches.
Cards designed by Wall were published by Valentine & Sons, Bergman, Barton and Spooner, International Art Co., the Illustrated Postal Card Co., Gibson Art Co., and J.I. Austen. More than fifteen publishers issued his cards.
Nicholson, Susan Brown, The Encylopedia of Antique Postcards, 1994, Wallace-Homestead Book Co., Radnor, Pennsylvania.