Browse These Spooky Vintage Cards

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Halloween is a great time to get into costume, tell scary stories, collect and hand out candy, and sit down to a frightful flick. While many may not consider it a time to share holiday cards, a visit to our Missouri Valley Room on the fifth floor of Central Library show that people have been sending spooky postcards and other stationery for a long time. 

Browse through our collection for inspiration. 
halloween postcard apples
A Halloween postcard showing children bobbing for apples, 1908. From the Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection.
halloween postcard witch
A Halloween postcard from 1909. From the Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection.
Halloween postcardThis card features many traditional Halloween elements. Note the apple peel in the young woman’s right hand. According to tradition, if she throws it over her right shoulder and it forms a letter, that will be the first initial of her future husband.
Halloween postcard turnipsYou might be asking why the children have turnip heads. Jack-o’-lanterns originated in Ireland, and were originally carved from turnips and other vegetables. When immigrants brought this tradition to America, they found pumpkins more plentiful and easier to carve. Turnips nonetheless were commonly found in Halloween imagery in the early 1900s, when this postcard was produced.
halloween postcard cake
These mischievous-looking creatures appear to be cutting a cake or possibly barmbrack, an Irish sweet bread traditionally served on Halloween.
halloween postcard three luggies
This lively group appears to be playing a Victorian parlour game called “Three Luggies” or Three Bowls. One bowl is filled with milk, one with water, and the third is empty. If the blindfolded woman dips her finger in the water, she will marry a bachelor; if the milk, then a widower. If she chooses the empty bowl, she will remain single the rest of her days.
halloween card jack o lantern turnipsOne of the earliest known records of jack-o'-lanterns comes from Irish folklore describing turnips used to make lanterns with ugly faces carved into them.
halloween card jack o lantern witchOther jack-o'-lantern theories point to the custom deriving from Scottish or British traditions of carving out various vegetables.
Happy Halloween RomanceWhen the jack-o'-lantern tradition made its way to the United States, pumpkins became the carvable fruit/vegetable object of choice.
Don't Be Afraid
The sender added a handwritten note to this postcard.