July 25, 2019

Bonnie Wilpon

Punny Postcards

A SALUTE TO PUNSTERS ACROSS THE POND

Since they invented the language we speak,
it is only right and proper to give credit where credit is due.

The English are master word-crafters
wherever puns are rated on a giggle-o-meter.

Let’s say, thanks to Donald McGill, Lance Thackeray, Tom Browne and a host of other pun makers from our English Motherland.

If you collect humorous cards that tickle your fancy you know how much fun postcards can be. A wide array of comic cards, both old and new, can be purchased in the 25¢-to-$2-range, so it’s an affordable collection for newbies.

My “fun” collections include local humor (cities and states poking fun at their unique foibles), funny faces (both people and animals) and cards that make me giggle for no apparent reason.

And I especially enjoy my collection of punny postcards. A pun is a trick of the word—a surprise in a sentence—a phrase that leads us down one mental path until our minds “get it” and appreciate its double meaning. A good pun (whether verbal or on a postcard) is just as likely to elicit a groan as a grin!

Puns on postcards have the advantage of the visual image to help the reader “catch it” more quickly. Even during the pre-1920s postcard era, like mild limericks, puns were often slightly racy or suggestive.

It’s this collection that’s most often enjoyed by my non-postcard collecting friends. If you set out a small album of these cards on your coffee table, or tuck a few in frames placed unobtrusively around a room, your visitors will reward you with smiles. They may even be reminders of funny jokes or incidents they will share with you. This can make a visit from the in-laws much more palatable!

Here are some of my favorites:

“Carrying out your orders” had a totally different connotation during World War I, when this postcard was most likely published. The grocery deliveryman’s closed eyes, intent frown, no-nonsense long stride and blazin cigarette let us know he takes his job quite seriously.

Bamforth Comics, published in Holmfirth, England and New York City, were popular throughout the first half of the 20th century. This insurance man has caught his prospect when she was not “fully covered.”

Sometimes, when it comes to puns, I suppose you just have to spell it out. This pre-1908 undivided back postcard was printed by several different publishers and must have been a favorite of teachers everywhere. I’ve found several of these at shows for 50¢ apiece.

Understatement can be exquisite. There were never any buffalo or bison known to inhabit the area of Buffalo, New York. Printed in Buffalo, it also fits into my “local humor” collection.

Another slightly risqué card, this pun gives us verbal permission to say something forward without using any untoward words.

And last, but not by any means least, the consummate card for the collector of punny postcards . . . a “pitcher post card” of course! (groan . . .)

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Leah Schnall

I too collect PUNS on post cards. Also, mis heard, or misinterpreted. My favorite one is. Sweet young lady to young man, Do you like Shakespeare? His reply…. any old beer will do.
I am still trying to find the McGill card saying Do you like KIppling ? The reply…. I don’t know I have never kippled..

Ray Hahn

Leah,
I have the Kipling card! Would a scan be enough? I’ll be glad to email it to you.
Ray Hahn

Ray, May I have one (a scan) too?

Leah Schnall

Thanks, I know what the card looks like, would love to own a copy. I’ll find one eventually.