Here's an interesting article on 'The Language of Stamps,' which talks about the placement of stamps on a postcard or envelope, and what it meant.
Article on Queen Elizabeth postcards
Britain's Financial Times has an online article
with the above title,
September Morn Postcards
original painting (left)
There was a discussion recently that was started by a new collector who was wondering about the category "September Morn" in the Postcard Collector's Guides. What exactly is a September Morn card, she wanted to know. I have a few, and I knew that they were a take-off on a painting, but I have always wondered why such an innocuous painting would be the butt of so many jokes. (Sorry!) Some online research brought up some interesting information, and I thought you might enjoy knowing about it.
September Morn is the title of a painting that was done by Frenchman Paul Chabas; he finished it in 1912. It was a painting of a young maiden posing nude, knee-deep in water, holding her hands modestly across her body. Chabas sent the painting off to the Paris Salon of 1912 to be exhibited. Although it won him the Medal of Honor, it was not given much attention. Hoping to find a buyer, the artist shipped the painting overseas to an American gallery.
Lithographs were made of it, and an enterprising art dealer with a large supply of lithographs that were not selling supposedly staged a spectacle to get some publicity. He hired young boys to stand in front of the Manhattan art shop window where it was displayed, pointing and laughing. Anthony Comstock, head of the Anti-Vice Society, was outraged, and demanded that the picture be taken down. The gallery manager refused to do so, and Mr. Comstock appealed to the courts, which brought the picture to the attention of the papers, and into the public eye. The controversy over the painting was given wide publicity by the press as the picture was simultaneously denounced and defended across the entire country, and it became famous almost overnight.
Soon enterprising entrepreneurs were reproducing September Morn on everything conceivable: calendars, postcards, candy boxes, cigar bands, pennants, bottle openers, and more. Supposedly the postcard reproductions were forbidden in the mails -I will start looking for cards bearing a postmark. The painting became the object of stock show gags and even inspired an anonymous couplet that swept the country, "Please don't think I'm bad or bold, but where its deep it's awful cold." This is the couplet that is on one of the cards that I bought when I first started collecting postcards. I bought it because it was a bare fanny (for my fanny collection) on a girl that looked just like a Campbell's kid. With a little more postcard knowledge I realized that it was a Grace Wiederseim Drayton postcard, the artist that created the Campbell's Kids.
So that is why there are so many joking references to September Morn on all those old postcards. The original painting now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC as an example of 20th century French works. And you can buy reproductions at the gift shop!