This Christmas card is one of dozens in the box of family ephemera I scavenged from grandmother’s attic. Christmas cards are quickly becoming ghosts of the past. Once mantels and surfaces were littered with the goodwill greetings of friends and family. But in 2020, with time short, and photo cards the rage, the artistic card has become an ethereal memory. After all, cards are the most likely to hit the recycle bin after the wrapping paper.
Sorting through papers, this particular image struck me as special. The envelope shows it was returned to sender, address unknown. The 3-cent stamp that year was the lavender stamp for Puerto Rico. If the intended recipient in New Jersey had received their card then I would likely never have seen it. Perhaps it was meant for me.
Winter in the Park, was printed by American Artists Group (who thankfully are still producing cards and supporting artists). It's No. 1536 with Copyright to Mabel Dwight 1936. This particular card was custom printed for the grandparents with their signature. At Christmas 1937 the family were living in New York City, with their first child.
The image of a snowy Central Park resonated even more because I could imagine the fantasy of it. At the time of creating Winter, Central Park, Mabel Dwight would be at the top of her career at sixty years old. The original lithograph is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Print Collection.
Lithographs are rarely on display, so somewhere in the bowels of the art collection, this print is harbored for future generations. In the meantime, you can enjoy the snakeskin paper lifting it from a heavyweight rag card with a deckle edge that would have sat on someone’s mantel, holding the good tidings and best wishes for the season. If you were lucky enough to receive a non-photo card this year, maybe you’ll tuck it away somewhere.