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Halloween - Halloween as we know it today with its Trick or Treating is largely a product of the sugar industry and did not exist when holiday postcards were in fashion. While Halloween, the Eve of All Saints’ Day is a Christian feast day, most celebrate it in relation to local folk traditions surrounding the dead, especially where paganism was widely incorporated into the Church. It was considered a day of the supernatural when witches and ghosts roam freely and an advantageous time to divine the future and pull pranks. Witches, bats, pumpkins, full moons, and owls were common subjects of Halloween cards. These artist drawn cards are very desirable today; they stand out above other holiday cards and are highly collectable.
Hand Made - While we think of postcards primarily as a printed image on card stock they are officially nothing more than a flat surface of a certain size with postage affixed. This has led many who did not want to pay for a printed card or those who wanted to send something a bit more personal to make their own postcards. Some of these cards were just slapped together out of expedience while others show much care and workmanship in their construction. Many of these cards are amateurish but some show the hand of professional artists. They have been made on all sorts of substrates that can get through the mail including pre-printed postals. Some of the earliest postcards were probably hand made but few examples of these survive.
Hand Pump - While not nearly as old as the use of open wells, hand pumps were in widespread use when postcards came into production. By this time some homes not hooked up to municipal water supplies had indoor hand pumps in their kitchens but most appear on postcards within rural settings. Many postcards also depict very old pumps that had gained historic status due to their age or former owners to become community landmarks. Watering tubs for animals can also be seen attached to many pumps.
Harbors - While scenes of most harbors are usually categorized under view-cards they can also be considered a separate genre. If so their focus must be on the maritime activity within the harbor and not on the building lined shores. The age in which most cargo traveled by sailing ships has been well documented on postcards.
Harems - Images of Harems are part of the Orientalist movement in Western art. They were largely produced as an excuse to picture nude or semi nude women for an audience hungry for risqué imagery. While it was totally unacceptable to portray contemporary Western women in this manner, women of other cultures lacked the same social status and were fair game. It all played a part in the creation of the exotic, which not only emphasized cultural status through differences real or imagined but created marketing interest to those seeking something new. It is ironic that in attempts to create exotic images Moslem women were pictured either as half dressed slaves and harem girls or fully covered from head to toe.
Hats - Hats may be as old as clothing itself but they were largely reserved for men until they became fashionable for women in the 17th century. When postcards began to be manufactured hats were considered an important part of dress for both men and women serving as a symbol of social status. Women’s hats came in many shapes and styles but for the most part they were large. As hair lengths grew shorter after the First World War hats grew smaller and more fitting. By the 1930’s milliners were loosing business to uniform factory made hats as ready to wear clothing became more popular. When hair styling became paramount in the 1960’s hats disappeared as a fashion statement and were only reluctantly worn as a protection against the elements. While few postcards were made to depict hats their evolution can clearly be found on cards ranging from portraits to ordinary view-cards.
Hay making - Even with the introduction of the automobile we remained dependent on horse drawn transportation well beyond the heyday of postcards. After people, horses were the most likely living creatures to be found on early cards. They required a great deal of sustenance and the gathering of hay to feed them was a time consuming task in much of rural America. Many postcards captured farm laborers filling hay wagons or pilling grass in fields and marshlands. While a common sight it had already been a long standing genre for art work. Postcards captured this through art reproductions as well as on many contemporaneous view-cards. Hay making should not be confused with the other long tradition of making hay.
Hayride - In the age before mechanical amusements were common groups in rural settings were taken on rides, usually on wagons filled with hay or straw to cushion the ride over poor roads. These were events often revolved around a celebration or a fair. Sometimes tourist camps would also organize hayrides for their guests. While the ride may act as a conveyance to a scenic wonder or a picnic, the ride was very often just an end in itself. Riders were sometimes segregated by sex to avoid opportunities at flirting while at other times mixed company was the real incentive for a hayride.
Heat Applied - When heat was applied to the back of these cards a hidden image would appear on the card’s front to complete the mysterious comic narrative. Because thin paper worked the best to effect a change in these cards they were most often printed as newspaper cutouts. These novelties were also sometimes called Magic Cards.
Heraldry - As suits of armor became more common in the mid 12th century heraldic symbols were added to the combatant’s shields to aid in identification. But even when this mode of warfare became obsolete the tradition of assigning these markings continued as they had begun to denote social status. The rules concerning the issuance of Coats of Arms varied from country to country but they could be applied to individuals, families, towns, abbeys, kingdoms, states, and even corporations. Likewise the symbolic elements contained with their designs also differ between nations. Many postcards made use of heraldic imagery in their designs. They most often appear in association with a specific place.
Highways - Private road clubs maintained our national roads before the advent of the U.S. highway system. These roads were not numbered but named and they became important to the development of motor tourism. Many of these roads have been captured on postcards and collected under their original names such as the Lincoln Highway or the new numbered roads in popular culture as Route 66. After the National Highway system began to be built many cards were created depicting their modern design with cloverleaf and tunnels rather than emphasizing the scenery they passed through.
Hiking - Man has walked out of necessity for longer than recorded history. In more modern times walking has become an activity in its own right. The idea of communing with Nature grew out of 18th century Romanticism. But by the late 19th century these spiritual journeys had turned into the act of hiking as part of larger outdoor movements for improving one’s health. Many hiking clubs were in existence when postcards became popular and images of hikers began to appear on them, though not in great numbers. As growing industrialism and urban growth diminished the natural environment many more people became hikers as part of a movement for preservation. Most images depicting hikers are on postcards of parkland that they helped save.
Historical - Images of well known historical events sometimes found their way onto postcards. While many were drawn from famous paintings, others images were newly illustrated just for these cards. Many of these cards were issued in sets and may have accompanying text on their fronts or backs.
Hold to Light - These postcard alter their appearance when held up to a source of light. Most cards of this type when held up to a light glow in areas where holes were die-cut into the front piece of card stock exposing translucent colored paper, usually red and yellow. The most desired effect was to transform a daylight scene into a night view. On some hold-to-light cards a thin printed image is pasted over another on card stock and when backlit the two layered images combine into a new one often altering its narrative. Only a handful of publishers made these cards for they were very expensive to buy in their day as they are now.
Holiday - Before the folded greeting card, postcards were mailed out for holidays. Flat holiday cards in many cut shapes actually predate postcards, and many of these were mailed out in latter years once postcards became popular. Many of the images found on these cards were made by the best illustrators of the day and the early cards are especially noted for their fine printing. Some holidays that cards were issued for are no longer considered card giving occasions.
Horses - In the heyday of Postcards horses played a more important role in everyday life than did the automobile. Almost every possible service brought to ones home would arrive via horse drawn wagons. Horsed pulled almost everything from private carriages to streetcars. Many advertising cards were published on products for one’s horse. While some collectors seek out horses in certain roles others are interested in anything with a horse in it. Horses are so common in ordinary view-cards they are often only categorized separately when they stand out.
Horse Fountains - As the use of fountains to provide a public source for clean water expanded greatly in urban areas during the 19th century, they also became widely popular for the watering of horses even in small towns. Many were constructed by animal welfare groups or wealthy benefactors. They are depicted on many postcards and depicted in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are sometimes difficult to spot if not captured with a horse drinking from one. Unfortunately they aided in the spread of the highly contagious hoof and mouth disease and began to be removed from streets in the early 20th century. This also killed the early steam powered automobiles that relied on them for water. Many horse fountains that were saved for their aesthetics were later removed when they became impediments to car traffic though they can sometimes still be found.
Horse Cars - In 1828 Baltimore became the first city in the United States to establish a horse drawn bus system. These carriages had small metal wheels and they ran on a track system like trains, only these tracks were laid through the city’s streets. Horses provided the pulling power though mules were sometimes also employed. The tracks helped allow a small team of two to pull a heavy load for about five hours. In a large city thousands of horses were used for this work. In the late 1880’s the electric trolly was introduced and they began replacing horse cars. But many locations with no electric power or little to spare kept their horse cars in use into the mid 20th century. Good images of horse cars on postcards are hard to find.
Horse Racing - The racing of horses is one of America’s oldest and most popular pastimes, especially in the age when horses played an important role in everyday life. Horses, jockeys, and the racetracks were all depicted on postcards. Many of the old tracks found on cards have disappeared under urban expansion.
Hospitals - Like most municipal buildings, images of hospitals were captured on many postcards. They promoted civic pride in those communities that built them and provided writing material for the many confined there. While usually depicting very ordinary views of structures, some real photo postcards captured more intimate views of staff or patients in what was once more informal settings.
Hotels - Hotels, motels, and tourist cabins were depicted on postcards for most of their history. These cards were sold or given away for advertising at the businesses they depicted. They were produced in great numbers as they catered to an audience prone to writing postcards. Many collectors concentrate on big city or grand resort hotels, which sometimes published images in sets. It wasn't unusual for a hotel postcard to hype nearby tourist attractions.
Houses - Postcards have always been produced of historic homes as objects of tourist interest. Well preserved old towns may have whole series published on them. While the private homes of specified owners do appear they are far less common except on real photo postcards. Many real photos depict homes of unknown owners and location. Some individuals published postcards of their own homes for self use and they were never meant to be publicly sold.
Hudson-Fulton - In 1909 New York City and the towns along the Hudson Valley celebrated the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s entrance into the river that now bears his name, and the 100th anniversary of the first steamboat service established by Robert Fulton. The Redfield Brothers published the official cards to this event, but many other publishers also joined in. These cards depict the celebration, parade floats, and the replicas made of both ships. Many of the artist drawn cards exhibit poor designing skills.
Hunting - Even after hunting ceased being a necessity it remained an integral part of life for many as a sport. While some cards depict hunting at its most common locations in rural America, it is most often found in scenes related to tourist camping in the wilderness or to the more formal foxhunt.
Hurricane of 1938 - The hurricane that struck New York and New England in 1938 was particularly costly in both property and lives. Postcards were issued both individually and in sets depicting the aftermath though they tend to be of poor quality except for the real photo cards. A few communities and lighthouses were completely destroyed by this storm and only the images of them captured on old postcards remain. Images of other hurricanes can be found on cards but they are not common.
Hybrids - Sometimes and odd combination of subjects and or writing may appear on a card. This can be found most often on holiday cards and greetings from cards. The image on many greeting from cards are obviously not the location on the title, which implies an overprint. While this was done make use of surplus cards it is hard to imagine why someone would send a card depicting alpine scenery while at an ocean beach. Likewise landscapes sometimes appear on holiday cards that have seemingly little to do with the event being celebrated. These combinations however are usually part of the original design.