Scanning Around With Gene: Happy Birthday, Jimmie!
I use to save all the various greeting cards I received throughout the years, and still save some. But with several large boxes of cards sitting in the garage, I decided you just can’t save everything. There comes a time when the memories just have to suffice without the actual physical evidence.
But that didn’t stop me recently from buying a large envelope full of cards at a garage sale – from the writing inside, it is clear they belonged to someone named “Jimmie” and cover his birthdays from age 1 to about age 9. Based on some copyright dates on the backs of the cards, I’d say Jimmie was born in 1947 – a classic baby boomer. And from the signatures it’s clear he had a couple of aunts and uncles along with some cousins. Why I ended up with his cards I don’t know. They were probably just left behind during a move, or a sudden change of heart about the importance of those particular memories. Click on any image for a larger version.
Greeting cards, especially those for kids, haven’t really changed all that much over the decades. Many of the themes are the same, even if the art style has changed.
Of course the prices have gone up dramatically. Cards from this era don’t have the prices on the back like modern cards do, but I’d guess they cost about a dime back then, maybe even a nickel.
Now days you’re more likely to see photographs on cards, and there are many cards with licensed characters on them from pop culture. You didn’t see much of that back in the 1950s when most of these cards were produced.
Card greetings weren’t much different back then either – still simple rhymes around the most basic themes – it makes you wonder if there is anything new that could possibly be said about turning seven or eight.
Production values were a little less sophisticated in this era, though a number of Jimmie’s cards have fancy die cuts and one even has fake hair pasted on the heads of the characters. Card makers could do things by hand and still make a profit in those days.
One thing I’ve always loved about greeting cards is when they use hand-lettered type, especially of the sort that is image-based.
The other thing that impressed me was the number of card manufacturers. Almost every card in the envelope I bought (about 20) was from a different publisher. And only two were from Hallmark, the leader in today’s market. Here’s a collage of some of the maker marks on the back of the cards pictured here.
I have no idea if Jimmie is still alive or if it was, in fact, his garage sale I attended. But I do know that at least in the early years he was well liked and thought of by his family and relatives. I hope he’s doing well and has fond memories, if not the cards to prove them.