Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy as a pig in clover! Bonne Année!


Trick photography and photo-montages were all the rage in the early years of the last century and a stock feature during the Golden Age of postcard production. This charming New Year Greetings postcard is a wonderful combination of the ubiquitous glamour shot of a young, pretty woman, posed more unusually with a piglet – a European New Year lucky charm popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To go one better, this pig is also surrounded by four-leaf clovers, which brings to mind the English idiom “happy as a pig in clover”, signifying prosperity and well-being.

NPG logo
The postcard may carry the French greeting “Bonne Année”, but was in fact issued in 1904 by Neue Photographische Gesellschaft (the New Photographic Society), a German organisation of photographers founded by Arthur Schwarz. The society became a formal “Aktiengesellschaft” (a joint-stock company) - indicated simply as AG on the reverse of the card - in 1894, and would go on to dominate the real photo postcard industry in the first half of the twentieth century. Based in Steglitz, a borough in the south-west of Berlin, the society members published many real photo postcards, and in particular “Oranotypie” images such as this postcard, NPG's own trade name for a type of glossy hand-coloured real photo postcard, which invariably included some gilding. The distinctive NPG logo in the bottom left hand corner is lightly gilded and gleams if tilted under a lamp.

Reverse of postcard
The card was clearly aimed at the French market, however, because the reverse of the card uses the “divided back” for message and address - the system was introduced in France in 1903, but was not adopted in Germany until 1905, a year after this card was produced. It was sent by a certain Madeleine Haran to Mademoiselle Jeanne Villain in Rouilly-Saint-Loup, but all that is legible of the postmark on the 5 centimes “Blanc” postage stamp is the year – 1907 – and the day – the 3rd – but it's probably safe to assume that it was posted in January of that year given the message “Bon pour 365 jours de bonheur” - Good for 365 days of happiness!

Happy New Year!

Check out the Vintage Postcard Store for more Vintage Lucky Pig New Year postcards!

1 comment:

Grace Bailhache said...

Hello Deborah,

I'm glad to see and discover this wishes postcard. As usual, you know how to mixed the little story with the big one. I never leave your blog without learning something, that nice.

So let me send you back as Madeleine did for Jeanne, un bon pour 12 mois de bonheur...

Tanti auguri per 2014 cara !

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