This antique postcard is one in a hard-to-find series personifying the seasons as women. Herbst, the German word for "autumn" is on the left outside edge of the illustration. A long-haired blonde beauty is at water's edge, surrounded by water lilies and cattails with a faded orange sun setting in the background. The torn paper opening has metallic gold detailing. Please note that I have included a direct scan as well as photos taken at natural daylight. Since computer monitors and color calibration often vary, the card in hand may not be exactly the tones you see here, but it will be somewhere in between and definitely beautiful. The photo at the window is overall lighter than the actual card, but the cattail background is more accurate (light bluish-green tone) than on the direct scan. Size: about 5.5 by 3.5 inches. This card was mailed to Paris May 20, 1905. The undivided back tells us that it was printed in 1903 or earlier. Based on the information below, I dare say this card could have been printed in the late 1890s. On the right side, the card shows wear and a very small tear. There are a couple of very small paper patches. Please note that I referred to this postcard as part of a 'hard-to-find' series. I didn't use the word 'rare' but I think in this case, rare would be very fitting. If you're interested in reading the information below, it will explain why. The history posted below also explains why it's been impossible for me to find the other season cards in this set.
I have had another copy of this card and also the Spring version, both which bore the printer's information: A. Sockl, Wien (Vienna, Austria). Also, the other versions had the season in French, not German. This card only has a number at bottom and no publisher info. Thickening the plot, it was strange to read on Wikipedia that Sockl was a British greeting card company based in London called Sockl and Nathan. The Sockl half of the enterprise was two brothers, Vicktor and Carl, who did indeed immigrate from Austria. "Their cards were printed by hand in Leipzig, Germany, a production method that preceded mass production of greeting cards. The business, based at 4 Hamsell Street, City of London, was very successful for a time and obtained a Royal Warrant. Often its cards did not bear the company name ... . After a fire in an adjacent property caused extensive damage to its stock, the company struggled to survive. Eventually, it fell into decline, due mainly to competition from the emerging industry of mass-produced greeting cards. The partners dissolved the company in February 1897. A collection of about 200 cards remained in the propriety of the Sockl family. In the late 1980s seven cards were reproduced by the Medici Society for a number of years. In the 1990s about 100 were sold to an art dealer and exhibited in his gallery in Wimbledon, London. The remaining 100 were donated to the Ephemera Society. Approximately 53 cards can be found in the extensive Laura Seddon Greeting Card Collection, cataloged in her book A Gallery Of Greetings (1992). The collection is now at the Manchester Metropolitan University, part of their Victorian Ephemera Collection, housed in the Sir Kenneth Green Library, on the All Saints Campus."
Perhaps Sockl and Nathan of London had to label their cards as printed in Vienna for business reasons, taxes, permits or whatever. I'll add this one bit of trivia to the mystery pot. Carl Sockl's full name was Carl Franz Albert. Perhaps that's where the "A" in A. Sockl comes in. Another possibility: they had a brother who died when he was only one year old -- his name was Adolf.
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