Holidays On Display: Selling Christmas In Vintage Postcards

Most of these Christmas postcards were collected for but not used in my book Holidays on Display, writes William L. Bird, curator at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. These postcards look at the art and industry of the holiday display, the stuff we see in shop windows, on building exteriors, in restaurants and malls, and on the street.

 

Christmas Club Corporation Valance Streamers Ticonderoga NY Four counters, desks, etc. Each colorful roll is 10 inches high and 60 feet long, scalloped at bottom. Can easily be attached under teller windows, around desks, to moldings, etc., with scotch tape or tacks. Sold only in complete rolls, individually packaged

Christmas Club Corporation Valance Streamers Ticonderoga NY
Four counters, desks, etc.
Each colorful roll is 10 inches high and 60 feet long, scalloped at bottom. Can easily be attached under teller windows, around desks, to moldings, etc., with scotch tape or tacks. Sold only in complete rolls, individually packaged

Capitol_Records_Hollywood_C

Capitol Records, Hollywood, California

 

In Chicago in the late 1940s, for example, Marshall Field’s turned one of the enormous modern decorator show houses in the store into a home for Santa, the Cozy Cloud Cottage. The designer, John Moss, dispensed with the traditional Santa throne, instead using an overstuffed armchair and Chippendale knock-offs in the modern setting, furniture that had been banned from the display by the original decorator, Robsjohn-Gibbings. So the whole treatment became a wry comment on modernism, with reindeer parked around a pot belly stove in the kitchen, and where you exited from your visit to Santa through a sliding glass door onto a frosted patio, that one year had a dog house, and another, a bar for penguins.William L. Bird

 

 

Christmas Season at the Inn Buck Hill Falls PA postmarked 1964

Christmas Season at the Inn Buck Hill Falls PA
postmarked 1964

Christmas Tree Gift Shops Yarmouth Port Cape Cod MA on Route 6A, corner at Willow Street Cape Cod's most distinctive and charming gift shops postmarked 1958

Christmas Tree Gift Shops Yarmouth Port Cape Cod MA
on Route 6A, corner at Willow Street
Cape Cod’s most distinctive and charming gift shops
postmarked 1958

 

The grand old animated Christmas window displays of the sort that once had Woodies, Hecht’s, Garfinckel’s and Lansburgh’s competing to demonstrate their creative extravagance are now relegated to nostalgic memories, scenes in old movies and on New York’s Fifth Avenue (and even there, the competing stores’ windows are all produced by one company).

The reasons for the demise of the Christmas window are well-known: The decline of the downtown department store, the rise of windowless big-box retailing, the replacement of family-owned local shops by big national chains and the triumph of convenience over showmanship.

“It was an amenity of the walking-around town,” says William “Larry” Bird. – Marc Fisher

 

Christmas Tree Inn Three Little Pigs Santa Claus AZ Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf 14 miles west of Kingman on Las Vegas Highway Real home Cooking - Homemade Bread, Pies, Cakes Open Every Day Breakfast and Luncheon - Dinners on Sunday Gift Shop open - Overnight Camping Weekday Dinners by reservation Lee and Frankie Ratliff

Christmas Tree Inn Three Little Pigs Santa Claus AZ
Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf
14 miles west of Kingman on Las Vegas Highway
Real home Cooking – Homemade Bread, Pies, Cakes
Open Every Day
Breakfast and Luncheon – Dinners on Sunday
Gift Shop open – Overnight Camping
Weekday Dinners by reservation
Lee and Frankie Ratliff

Christmas_Astrodome_Houston_TX

Christmas, Astrodome -Houston, Texas

Christmas_FL_everyday_tree_1961

Christmas, Florida, 1961

Christmas_Park_Albion_NY

Christmas Park, Albion New York

KAnsas Christmas_Pittsburg_KS

Pittsburg, KS

Christmas_Spring_Lake_Hotel_

Christmas, Spring Lake Hotel

Columbia_SC_Christmas

Columbia, South Carolina, Christmas

Country Club Plaza night Kansas City, MO postmarked 1966

Country Club Plaza night Kansas City, MO

Court House decorated for the Christmas Season Logan OH

Court House decorated for the Christmas Season Logan OH

DC Transit US Capitol Christmas Card Washington DC Christmas card from O. Roy Chalk, DC Transit Company owner U.S. Capitol

DC Transit US Capitol Christmas Card Washington DC
Christmas card from O. Roy Chalk, DC Transit Company owner
U.S. Capitol

Denver_Champa_St

Denver -Champa, Street

Denver_City_CountyBldg_CO

Denver City, County Building, Colorado

Filenes_Boston

Filenes, Boston

Guarantee Savings' Animated display Fresno, California

Guarantee Savings’ Animated display Fresno, California

King Downtown -Kansas, City

King Downtown -Kansas, City

Lake Lawn Lodge Delavan WI The beautiful Fountain Mall by winter, surrounded by exciting gift shops

Lake Lawn Lodge Delavan WI
The beautiful Fountain Mall by winter, surrounded by exciting gift shops

Light_Tower_Christmas_San_Jose_CA The light tower is a half size reproduction of the original San Jose Light Tower.

Light Tower, Christmas, San Jose, California.
The light tower is a half size reproduction of the original San Jose Light Tower.

The Living Christmas Tree, featuring the 135-voice College-Career Choir, directed by John Gustafson, Minister of Music, sings the old and new songs of Christmas. The giant 50-foot tree upon which the choir stands has 1,500 pounds of juniper boughs with hundreds of lights and ornaments. A picturesque snow scene completes the winter wonderland. A Southern California spectacular.

The Living Christmas Tree, featuring the 135-voice College-Career Choir, directed by John Gustafson, Minister of Music, sings the old and new songs of Christmas. The giant 50-foot tree upon which the choir stands has 1,500 pounds of juniper boughs with hundreds of lights and ornaments. A picturesque snow scene completes the winter wonderland. A Southern California spectacular.

Military_Park_Newark_NJ

Military Park, Newark, New Jersey

Mrs. K's Toll House Christmas Silver Spring, Maryland

Mrs. K’s Toll House Christmas
Silver Spring, Maryland

Northland Shopping Mall Southfield MI Christmas

Northland Shopping Mall Southfield MI Christmas

Colorado Ricci's Columbine Cafe Granby CO Santa visits Granby, Colorado On Scenic U.S. Highway 40 and North Pole Avenue

Ricci’s Columbine Cafe Granby CO
Santa visits Granby, Colorado
On Scenic U.S. Highway 40 and
North Pole Avenue

Santa Claus Lane Hollywood CA Hollywood Blvd. becomes Santa Claus Lane with gala parade of stars from Thanksgiving Day to the New Year

Santa Claus Lane Hollywood CA
Hollywood Blvd. becomes Santa Claus Lane with gala parade of stars from Thanksgiving Day to the New Year

antas_Land_Shop_Putney_VT

Santa’s Land Shop -Putney, VT

Minnesota Southdale Shopping Mall Edina MN Merry Christmas display sign

Southdale Shopping Mall Edina MN Merry Christmas display sign

Sterling Alaska Fur & Game Farms Lake Placid and Ausable Chasm NY Whiteface Mt 4872 ft. peak at right Lake Placid, NY

Sterling Alaska Fur & Game Farms Lake Placid and Ausable Chasm NY
Whiteface Mt 4872 ft. peak at right
Lake Placid, NY

Sterling_Linder_Department_Store_Christmas_tree_Cleveland_OH

Sterling Linder Department Store Christmas Tree –
Cleveland, Ohio

Colorado Street Area Santa's Workshop North Pole CO

Street Area Santa’s Workshop North Pole CO

Students' Lounge at Christmas Saint Francis Hospital Pittsburgh PA Mary Immaculate Hall Nurses' Residence and School of Nursing, Saint Francis Hospital postmarked 1950

Students’ Lounge at Christmas Saint Francis Hospital Pittsburgh PA
Mary Immaculate Hall
Nurses’ Residence and School of Nursing, Saint Francis Hospital
postmarked 1950

Trees Belmont Shore, Long Beach, CA Long Beach, California. Christmas Eve on Belmont Shore. Brightly lighted trees moored on barges cast dazzling reflections on the still waters of Alamitos Bay, while carols from boatloads of choirs sound clear upon the quiet night.

Trees Belmont Shore, Long Beach, CA
Long Beach, California. Christmas Eve on Belmont Shore. Brightly lighted trees moored on barges cast dazzling reflections on the still waters of Alamitos Bay, while carols from boatloads of choirs sound clear upon the quiet night.

New York Trinkaus Manor Restaurant Merry Christmas outdoor holiday light display Oriskany NY

Trinkaus Manor Restaurant Merry Christmas outdoor holiday light display Oriskany NY

New York Trinkaus Manor Restaurant Santa Claus and carousel outdoor holiday light display Oriskany NY

Trinkaus Manor Restaurant Santa Claus and carousel outdoor holiday light display Oriskany NY

Indiana Wolf_Dessauer_Christmas_Fort Wayne IN

Wolf Dessauer –
Christmas_Fort Wayne, IN

Woodward & Lothrop Department Store Christmas Washington DC Main aisle featuring Santa Claus on the red carpet, Woodward & Lothrop, Washington, D.C., about 1965

Woodward & Lothrop Department Store Christmas Washington DC
Main aisle featuring Santa Claus on the red carpet, Woodward & Lothrop, Washington, D.C., about 1965

North Carolina World's Largest Living Christmas Tree Wilmington NC This three hundred year Live Oak is lighted with 4,000 multi-colored bulbs, and is viewed each December by a quarter of a million persons. Its limb spread is 110 feet and heights 55 feet.

World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree Wilmington NC
This three hundred year Live Oak is lighted with 4,000 multi-colored bulbs, and is viewed each December by a quarter of a million persons. Its limb spread is 110 feet and heights 55 feet.

New York Sterling Alaska Fur & Game Farms Entrance Lobby Lake Placid NY Home of St. Nick's Animals See 1000 Fur and Game Alive and Tame 3 farms--Lake Placid, Ausable Chasm, Plattsburg, NY

Sterling Alaska Fur & Game Farms Entrance Lobby Lake Placid NY
Home of St. Nick’s Animals
See 1000 Fur and Game Alive and Tame
3 farms–Lake Placid, Ausable Chasm, Plattsburg, NY

New York Sterling Alaska Fur & Game Farms Ausable Chasm NY see us at head of Chasm Home of St. Nick's Animals See 1000 Fur & Game Alive and Tame 3 farms - Ausable Chasm, lake Placid, Plattsburg, NY

Sterling Alaska Fur & Game Farms Ausable Chasm NY
see us at head of Chasm
Home of St. Nick’s Animals
See 1000 Fur & Game Alive and Tame
3 farms – Ausable Chasm, lake Placid, Plattsburg, NY