This card, published by Wolf & Co., mailed in 1919, doesn't look the least bit Christmassy to me. I'm guessing this was a generic image that just had holiday messages slapped on as necessary. Still, a nice little card badly worn.

Cannot read the artist's signature. Perhaps someone will find it familiar.

Click on either image to see them larger.

Thanks to the observant reader Lori for pointing me in the right direction about the card's illustrator. It is indeed an Ellen H. Clapsaddle image. You can read the Wikipedia entry about her here. Here is a portion of the piece which points out exactly how close Clapsaddle was to the owners of the company Wolf & Co.:
Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle (January 8, 1865 in South Columbia, New York, died 1934) was an American illustrator/commercial artist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Not only is her style greatly admired and well recognized, today she is recognized as the most prolific souvenir/postcard and greeting card artist of her era.

Clapsaddle’s father died on January 5, 1891, and she and her mother went to live with an aunt in Richfield Springs. Clapsaddle spent her next fourteen years not only giving art lessons, but also creating and selling illustrations, landscapes, and portraits commissioned by local wealthy families, and freelance artwork that she submitted to various publishers through the mail out of an art studio in downtown Richfield Springs.

Initially, two of her designs were accepted by the International Art Publishing Company in New York City to be used as souvenir/postcards that became an immediate success as bestsellers. After that initial purchase of two designs, several others followed and they retained her to work along with other artists. Because she became their premier illustrator due to the popularity and successful marketability of her designs, the company invited her to move to the city around 1895.

Soon, by 1901, the International Art Publishing Company also offered her a paid 2-year trip to Germany for her and her mother. While in Germany, she refined her art talent by working directly and closely with the German engravers who were the actual manufacturers of the products offered for sale. Her designs started to appear in various forms like Valentines, souvenir/postcards, booklets, watercolor prints, calendars, and trade cards and other objects in the world of advertising.

By this time, Germany was the center of the high-end publishing world and many publishers in the United States depended on them for the final products that were shipped to the U.S. Clapsaddle was in Germany when her mother, died on March 2, 1905.

Clapsaddle spent some years in Germany, funded by the International Art Publishing Company, and then returned to New York around 1906. It is said that she established the Wolf Company backed by the Wolf brothers—a full subsidiary of the International Art Publishing Company of New York City. She was the first and only female souvenir/postcard artist of the era to establish her own enterprise. She was the sole artist and designer for this company.

At that time, few women were even employed as full-time illustrators. For 8 years she and the Wolf brothers enjoyed their success and there seemed to be no limit to the growth potential in the souvenir/postcard industry. (Some sources suggest that she was employed by the Wolf brothers). Nevertheless, confidence in the boom and high return in profits in this specialized area of commercial art during this boom period, led her and her partners to invest heavily in the years that followed in many Germany engraving and publishing firms. She returned once again to Germany to work with the engravers and publishers they used because they had the best printing plants.

The postcard and greeting card business was doing well, and Clapsaddle was making good money most of which she invested in German printing firms.

World War I
By 1914, the war broke out. The majority of the souvenir/postcard publishers in the United States depended on German supplying firms but once they became disconnected from them, they had to go out of business. Many German factories suffered total destruction from bombings and all of Clapsaddle's recent original artwork was lost along with the investments in those firms because of the destruction of the records and messages going back forth between the continents that never arrived or were never answered. Clapsaddle was totally displaced and could not be found. She was penniless, lost, and alone in a far away land in the middle of the turmoil of the First World War.

By 1915, many firms in the United States, like the Wolf Company, did not have a business any more and in their case, their sole designer-artist was lost in Germany.

Although the United States did not enter the war until 1917. Between 1914 and 1919, Clapsaddle was trapped and unable to leave the country. The end of the engraving and publishing industry in Germany came about suddenly and so did her livelihood and her future—so did her life and spirit and desire to live as she witnessed and suffered the war first hand.[

With the end of the war in 1919, nothing was known in the United States about Clapsaddle's fate. One or two of the Wolf brothers borrowed money so they could go to search for her in Europe. She was finally found six months later. By then, she had had a complete mental breakdown as a victim of the war, was wandering through the streets hungry and sick, and her health and spirit were totally broken—she was only 55 years old. When the Wolf brothers approached her, she was so disconnected from the world and reality that she barely recognized them. The Wolf brothers brought her back to the United States.

Unmarried and childless, Clapsaddle had no close relatives. Furthermore, she had spent all of her time and productive years dedicated to her artwork and there was no one to take care of her under those circumstances. The Wolf brothers took care of her as long as they were able and alive but they too died destitute and poor. When they passed on, she was left penniless, alone, unable to work, and mentally incapacitated. She had lost the ability to make a living and her deteriorating health rapidly became a major obstacle.

She was admitted to the Peabody Home for the elderly and destitute on Pelham Parkway in New York City in January 1932. One day short of her 69th birthday in 1934 she died. Like many residents of the home who had no relatives, she was buried in a potters' grave. She died totally destitute through no fault of her own just like the Wolf brothers—innocent victims of the world tragedy of the First World War.


  1. Hi! Darling card ~ can't see sig very well, but the image looks a lot like an Ellen Clapsaddle.

    Thanks so much for your great blog & Happy Holidays!

  2. Thank you. And you're right. It is an Ellen Clapsaddle. It was the middle initial "H" in the signature that had me confused.