Will Bradley Bicycle Art

© SandyVal Graphics Ltd. 1966, C14. 6″ X 8½”

Here are two oversized postcards with reproductions of Will Bradley’s posters  advertising Victor Bicycles made by Overman Wheel Company. These are part of a series of “Art Nouveau and Turn-of-the Century Posters in miniature by Sandy Val, New York 10022.” My cards are somewhat discolored, because I originally had them taped to my walls.

© SandyVal Graphics Ltd. 1968, C46. 6″ X 9″

Both bicycles and posters were big fads in the 1890s, and they both showed a reawakening of interest in the late 1960s. Will Bradley, who was one of the top graphic artists of the 1890s, designed these Victor Bicycle posters ca. 1895. Bradley’s  graphic art was influenced both by Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts styles.

The second bicycle poster design shown above was also printed in Black and white.

Victor bicycles. source: New York Public Library Digital Collections. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-913a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Bradley was known for his typography as well as his illustration skills. The examples below show off some of his typography done for the Overman Wheel Co. 1899 catalog. These designs are nearly all composed of a simple type, but Bradley was also skilled in unifying decorative types with images.

Victor Bicycles, MDCCCXCIX. Catalog of the Overman Wheel Co., designed by Will Bradley. source: https://www.masshist.org/object-of-the-month/objects/will-bradley-and-the-art-of-the-bicycle-2006-07-01

The Overman Wheel Company was  forced out of business after 1899 due to cheaper bicycles flooding the market. The American cycling boom was over by 1902, when bicycle sales were reduced to a quarter of their previous peak.

Visit Sepia Saturday 383 for more bicycle inspired posts.


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Slovak Catholic Sokol

This postcard commemorates the XXIII Slet of the Slovak Catholic Sokol that was held at Morton West High School Stadium in Berwyn, Illinois on July 23, 1967. A sokol is a Slavic gymnastic society aiming to promote a communal spirit and physical fitness, and a slet is a mass gymnastic festival.

The Sokol movement originated in Prague in 1862 to promote physical fitness. It spread to other regions populated by Slavic cultures, and early Czech immigrants brought the Sokol movement to the United States.

The early Sokol movement was nonsectarian. In the early twentieth century, Catholic Slovak immigrants formed a Sokol group for Catholics. The Slovak Catholic Sokol is an Athletic Fraternal Benefits Society. It offers insurance protection and promotes physical fitness among its members through various programs and activities.

The following text is from the back of the postcard:


The Slovak Catholic Sokol affords its members, juniors and seniors, the opportunity to participate in gymnastics, track and field events, and other body-building sports.  —  Join our Organization today and enjoy these benefits at no extra cost.



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Colorful Mid-Century GE Kitchen Appliances

In the 1950s, color was  the newest trend in kitchen appliances. Nowadays, it is hard to find appliances with any real color. These advertising postcards all show GE appliances from the mid- to late-1950s. The dates have been estimated from similar ads featured in print publications. Below each image is the text from the back of that card.

The first four cards are standard size. They show “Built-in” and “Color-Style” kitchens “for Living.”  These are circa 1955-1956.

Built-In Kitchens — for Living . . . This kitchen created a sensation when it was featured editorially in America’s largest circulation magazine. To the left is G-E’s new Elexctric Kitchen Center combining washer-dryer, Disposall, dishwasher and range under a one-piece stainless counter top. At the right is the wall refrigerator-freezer which hangs on the wall like a picture.


Built-In Kitchens — for Living . . .Here is advance design in kitchen appliances available today. In the upper left is the new wall type refrigerator-freezer5; the right wall is the Electric Kitchen Center with automatic washer-dryer, Disposall, dishwasher and range under a one-piece stainless steel top. An auziliary wall oven is at the right.


Color-Style Kitchens — for Living . . . Turquoise is today’s most popular kitchen color. Note the built-in oven and the convenient range surface units. The lower part of the refrigerator is a big 4 Cu. Ft. freezer. Turquoise is one of General Electric’s new Mix-or-Matche colors, the others being Canary Yellow, Petal Pink, Cadet Blue and Woodtone Brown.


Color-Style Kitchens — for Living . . .Here is an example of kitchen compactness, enhanced in beauty with G-E’s new Mix-or-Matche colors. This one-wall arrangement includes Disposall, Dishwasher, Space-Maker Range, Refrigerator and ample cabinet area. Canary Yellow is a warm color, ideal for kitchens facing north or west.


The postcards below are circa 1958 and are wider than standard size, measuring 3½ x 6¼ inches.


GARDEN PARTY KITCHEN . . . This kitchen brings the magic of an enchanting vacation right into your home. Bright with brilliant tropical beauty-brimming with livability and elegant ease. A room in which to work culinary wonders — a holiday-everyday haven for gracious living.


MERRIE MANOR KITCHEN . . . An around-the-clock room that offers informal fun for the entire family. Beside the handy anack counter there’s a hi-fi setting, desk area — everything for hours of enjoyment — a kitchen where the “cook” can be a part of the party.


NAUTICAL ‘N NICE KITCHEN . . . New active leisure in this sun-blessed companion-kitchen. Yes, it’s a delightful companion for doing, because it’s filled with work-saving wizardry for free and easy living. Great as all outdoors for get-togethers with all its wonderful go-togethers.

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Vend-a-Kard Postcards

Vend-A-Kard postcards were introduced in 1949. They were postcards made to be sold in sets from vending machines. The Vend-A-Kard name, shown above was printed at the bottom of the message section on the back of the card.

I found two brief articles about Vend-a-Kards that were published in Billboard Magazine on the Internet. The first article is dated July 16, 1949 and is titled Vend-a-Kard to Intro New Automatic Post Card Unit. An automatic console post card vender, developed by O. W. Wahlstrom of Texas, which displayed 32 full-color cards was being introduced by Vend-a-Kard, Inc. Four postcards appeased simultaneously in framed windows on the face of the vender. The four cards remained stationary for 3½ seconds, then changed to the second series and so on thru the 32-card total. Customers could deposit 25 cents¢ in coins o obtain a packet containing five (?) cards. The cards displayed in each window formed complete sets so that the customer could choose his packet by pushing the delivery button corresponding to the window display.

The Vend-a-Kard company was planning to follow a procedure of franchising operators and then making up special card series for the operator’s particular locale. The first series of scenic postcards was expected to be tested in New Orleans. The July 16 article described a vender that was 63 inches high. The second article, dated October 1, 1949, described a 14 inches high counter card vender, selling packets of eight cards for 25 cents. The company intended to have a national consumer advertising program, but it is not known how many locales actually sold the Vend-a-Kards or for how long.

Below are two unused Florida Vend-a-Kards that I have found. The cards are numbered in the lower left corner of the back. The Billboard articles implied that the cards were to be made by facilities of McCormick-Armstrong, Wichita, Kansas. However, the backs of these postcards state that they were made by Mercury Lithographing company of Miami, Florida.

vintag Miami Beach postcard


123 FLORIDA MOTEL – Where modest vacations are spent in luxurious surroundings.


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The Bakelite Travelcade

Bakelite was one of the first plastics made from synthetic components. It was developed in 1907 by the chemist Leo Baekeland. Bakelite was advertised as a material of more than a thousand uses. It was used for its electrical nonconductivity and heat-resistant properties in electrical insulators, radio and telephone casings. Other uses included kitchenware, jewelry, pipe stems, children’s toys, and firearms. Many of the products had a streamlined futuristic design.

The Bakelite Travelcade was a touring exhibition featuring “Modern Plastics for Modern Living.” The exhibit was shown at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the New York Museum of Science and Industry, the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh, and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. It also served as the company’s exhibit at the New York World’s Fair.

This postcard is from the New York Museum of Science and Industry where the Bakelite Travelcade was exhibited during March, 1938. A series of panels framed by streamlined pylons told the Bakelite story. Colorful, animated exhibits emphasized the part that plastics played in industry, the home, and in daily life. Visitors could watch a hydraulic molding press turning spoonfuls of powder into souvenir spoons and view a film about Bakelites’s processing and applications.


American Plastic: A Cultural History, by Jeffrey L. Meikle

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Postcards Boosted Cities


An article originally published in

Booster Post Cards
to Tell Fame of City

Thousands of Miles of Postals
Will Spread Renown of Minneapolis.

Trainloads to Be Mailed From Here
During Civic Celebration Week.

Scenes of Falls and Lakes
Will Be Among Those Sent Out.

Thousands and thousands of miles of postcards that, if placed side by side, would extend several times across the United States—postcards that will show only the brighter side of life an Minneapolis—will this summer spread the fame of Minneapolis over the entire world.

Trainloads of postcards wil1 be mailed from here this summer during the Civic celebration and the summer conventions, while lake dwellers already have shown their appreciation of the many new views which are being placed in the market by the enterprising postcard firms which are preparing for such a season as they never before have experienced. Everyone sends postcards, they say, and for this reason Minneapolis stores have been stocked with hundreds of different views, all showing scenes in and about the city.

The picture postcard industry has grown from a mere trifling experiment of an itinerant photographer to an immense business which has encircled the globe, and has passed from the comic stage into a serious publicity means which more and more is being appreciated by enterprising resorts and cities of the world. Advancement in the art of photography and reproduction has reduced the cost of manufacture also, so that cards which a few years ago sold at three for a quarter, now are on sale at all stores at 10 cents a dozen.

Postcards in High Favor

Postcards are a favored means of communication in times of conventions and other gatherings, as they enable the busy visitor to communicate with his friends without spending any great amount of his time in letter writing.

Postcard publicity campaigns have been waged in many cities, perhaps the most auspicious one being that of the Denver chamber of commerce, which has just mailed over 500,000 postcards to every part of the globe. The pictures were typical of Denver and its neighborhood and the western municipal fishermen are confident the postcard is the best bait for attracting tourists and residents to the West that yet has been devised.

Minneapolis always has been regarded as one of the centers of the picture postcard industry. More beautiful lakes and summer resorts, more palatial structures, more picturesque landscapes and more interesting industrial views can be found here than in most other cities and artists have taken advantage of the fact, with the result that Minneapolis views have become among the greatest factors in advertising Minneapolis away from here.

Artists Come Here

Artists from all over the world, attracted by the landscapes and lake views sent out of here, have made Minneapolis their mecca, and a large staff of artists continually is preparing new views to satisfy the ever growing demand of the art loving tourists who visit the Twin Cities annually.

Perhaps the pioneer in the exploitation of the artistic setting of Minneapolis was the late Arus Williams, who for many years rambled from lake to lake and resort to resort with his heavy cameras, and whose artistic photographs have been copied and exhibited by moving picture film makers and as artistic lantern slices in many countries. Mr. Williams came here from the East when Minneapolis was in her infancy, and his photographic reproductions were for many years the only ones. He photographed Lake Minnetonka in all its moods and caprices. When the postcard novelty became a fad Williams was the first to place his views on the market, and many lake resorts which now are appreciated by Minneapolitans first were discovered and described by the camera of the artist.

Minnehaha Falls 1911 Civic Celebration Postcard

Falls Pictured Thousand Times

Since that time photographers without number have traversed fields and resorts in and about the Twin Cities. Minneahaha Falls has been pictured thousands of times. Hundreds of new views of Lake Minnetonka and its beautiful summer lounging places have been made and scattered broadcast over the world. Minneapolis parks, drives and boulevards have come in for their share, while the lesser lakes, such as Calhoun, Harriet and Lake of the Isles have been favorites with the post card men.

Lakes Calhoun, Harriet and Lake of the Isles are receiving especial attention from the photographers this year because of the great Civic Celebration to be held in commemoration of the linking of lakes, and these views will add materially to the large number of beautiful scenes in and about Minneapolis.

St. Paul is not omitted. New views of Como park, yachting views from White Bear lake,, Wildwood scenes and pictures of the majestic Mississippi, Fort Snelling and its historic abutments are included. The whole will go to make a campaign of publicity which will spread Minneapolis’ fame over the entire world and will not cost Minneapolis a cent. Instead it will be profitable, as the biggest makers of post cards are Minneapolis institutions, employing Minneapolis people, and every cent spent for post cards is left right here in Minneapolis.

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Seventeen Heaven

SEVENTEEN HEAVEN was a dream room designed especially for teens. It was exhibited at the National Home Furnishings Show, Aug. 25 through Sept. 9, 1956 at the New York Coliseum. The back of this postcard invited you to read about it in the September issue of Seventeen Magazine.

The latest theory on interior decorating was that rooms could be personalized to suit their occupants. This attic living-bedroom, designed for two teenage girls, featured “Seventeen” wallpaper and matching fabric with a teen motif. The color scheme was pastel pink and turquoise, accented with colorful throw pillows.

The room was furnished with two studio couches and a neat storage wall that included two desks, double dressers, and book shelves. There were also extra chairs, a music and “TV” corner, and a special bin for extra bedding, A telephone, sewing machine, and typewriter were among the objects in view.

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