A Christmas Message of Peace and Love

This Christmas card was issued in late 1906, after Paul Elder and John Henry Nash had setup an outpost in New York City following the earthquake and fire of April 18th. It was issued with an envelope that doesn’t match the card’s artwork; it may have been a generic Christmas envelope used for all the store’s cards.  The poem is by Mary Ogden Vaughan, of whom I know little except that she published other poems in The Overland Monthly. The illumination is by Santa Barbara artist Robert Wilson Hyde.

May you have a warm, healthy and peaceful holiday season.

Hyde Christmas
"A Christmas Message of Peace and Love"
Hyde Christmas envelope
Envelope with non-matching artwork


In Japanese mythology and folklore, Ebisu (恵比須) is the Japanese god of fishermen, workingmen and good luck, and is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune. Although slightly lame and deaf, he is happy and auspicious. He is often displayed with Daikokuten and Fukurokuju, two more of the Seven Gods of Fortune, in shopkeeper windows.

Paul Elder published this doggerel about Ebisu exactly 100 years ago, as a greeting for the Christmas season of 1910. It is a large format piece—25″ wide—that folds in thirds to a 8.5 x 10″ finished size. Cutouts reveal photographs of the front and back of a pottery Ebisu figure. It’s unclear whether Elder also sold the figurines along with the greeting.

The poet was William O’Connell McGeehan (1879-1933) a sportswriter and editor of the New York Herald Tribune. He wrote primarily about boxing (which he euphemistically called “the manly art of modified murder” or “The Cauliflower Industry”). The Herald Tribune sent McGeehan to Dayton, Tennessee in 1925 to cover the famous John Scopes trial, no doubt sensing a metaphorical boxing match between the attorneys Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan. McGeehan had written Ebisu long before, while he and his wife, journalist and playwright Sophie Treadwell, were still reporters for newspapers in San Francisco.

Ebisu p1
Title page of “Ebisu”
Ebisu p3
W. O. McGeehan’s poem “Ebisu”
Ebisu p4
Ebisu sculpture, with more poetry
Ebisu p5
Back of Ebisu sculpture, with more poetry

Miniature Leaflets

Paul Elder frequently called upon artist Harold Sichel to illustrate ephemera. Elder was quite fond of the genre where an inspirational quote from English literature was centered within a floral or nautical scene. These small Miniature Leaflets, all illustrated by Sichel, were about 4″ x 2-1/2″, and were issued beginning in 1905 until at least 1909. They were probably only sold in sets, complete with their own box. Too small to be proper greeting cards, I imagine they were intended as a card you would attach to a gift-wrapped present.

Miniature Leaflets
Miniature Leaflets #4, #3 and #1 (1905)
Miniature Leaflets2
Miniature Leaflets #10 (1908) and #18 (1909)
Miniature Leaflets box
Miniature Leaflets box

Impressions Magazine

On 1 March 1899, Paul Elder and Morgan Shepard published “a monthly leaflet of book-notes” entitled Personal Impressions. After about six issues in leaflet form, the publication was upgraded to a monthly magazine format in March 1900, with cover artwork by Morgan Shepard. In September 1900 the magazine was renamed Impressions and given a new cover design. In March 1902 the magazine, with another new cover, was renamed Impressions Quarterly and publication was reduced to four issues per year. In March 1904 the cover was redesigned for a final time. The final issue of Impressions Quarterly was in December 1905.

Through all the changes, the contents remained fairly steady: an interesting mix of articles (usually excerpts from a book that Elder wished to highlight that month), criticism, artwork and advertisements (for both Elder’s publications and other San Francisco businesses).

Personal Impressions
The inaugural issue of "Personal Impressions", March 1899. One folded sheet, printed only on the recto of each leaf.
Impressions Aug 1900 cover
The August 1900 issue of "Personal Impressions," after expansion into magazine format
Impressions Oct 1900 cover
October 1900 issue, now renamed "Impressions"
Impressions Dec 1903 cover
December 1903 issue, now renamed "Impressions Quarterly" and issued four times per year.
Impressions Jun 1904 cover
June 1904 issue of "Impressions Quarterly," showing the final cover redesign

Christmas Carol Series

In 1902 Elder and Shepard published a series of six Christmas carols, on single sheets with particularly beautiful three-color printing. The artwork is by Harold M. Sichel (1881-1948), who was one of Elder’s favorite art contributors over the next decade. His “HMS” monogram is visible on the cover just underneath the center box, and also reversed on the rear cover. The rear cover clearly was printed by turning the block over.

I Saw Three Ships, exterior
I Saw Three Ships, interior
Coventry Carol, exterior
Coventry Carol, interior
Wassail Song, exterior
Wassail Song, exterior
Wassail Song, interior
Wassail Song, interior
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, exterior
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, interior