Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hospital Handi-Notes c.1950

For the coming holiday season I thought that something kid-oriented should be in order. One of the more charming items in the Dittrick archive is a c.1950 boxed set of Rust Craft greeting cards for hospital-bound children. We are normally inclined to think only of get-well cards sent to the infirm and ill. The cards depicted here turned the table, and were intended to let young hospital patients keep others apprised of their well-being, and hopefully improving health. Such cards provided family and friends with an update on their recuperation.

All this struck me as pretty remarkable, yet a tad surreal. What poor kid could/would provide family and friends with a meaningful report on their recuperation? And was this something “normal” in the sphere of greeting cards? The search to learn something about these cards resulted in a phone chat with Anne Stewart O’Donnell, a decorative arts scholar steeped in greeting card history. Anne cited The Romance of Greeting Cards (1956) by Earnest Dudley Chase as a key source, but it offered little illumination regarding this genre of cards. A bit more looking online confirmed that the cards could be credited to Marjorie Cooper of Three Little Kittens fame, as well as a full oeuvre of artwork for Rust Craft Greeting Card Company and other publishers of children’s books in the baby boomer era. Should I learn more, I’ll pass it along. For the moment, I will post these images and hope that you enjoy the charm of Cooper’s artwork.

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