Postcard illustrations are very sought after and for good reason: old coloured postcards always draw the eye. Today, we will be talking about a series of old illustrations postcard collectors know well: those from the Wiener Werkstätte.

The story of the illustrated postcard dates back to the end of the 19th century. It was during this period that new printing techniques like lithography and chromolithography began to develop, enabling the printing of illustrated postcards in colour and in larger quantities.

The Wiener Werkstätte, which can be translated as “Viennese Workshop” was founded in 1903, as a limited liability partnership. The company was headed by Messrs Hoffmann and Moser. The postcard department was created in 1907 and cards began to be printed in 1908. About 1,000 different postcards were designed between 1908 and 1914. They were all numbered. We currently know of cards up to 1012, but some numbers between 900 and 1000 are missing.

 

 

Papers and motifs

The paper used for the cards is important. Cards 1 to 999 have three layers of paper, two thin ones to print the drawing and the back of the card and a thicker layer in the middle. They were printed on Bristol paper starting at number 1000.

One recurring motif is the Fledermaus café. It was redecorated by artists who also worked for the Wiener Werkstätte during the same period. It was therefore a subject of choice for architectural, show, costume and other cards.

The artists who illustrated the Wiener Werkstätte postcards were also greatly inspired by fashion. Mela Köhler drew over 90 postcards on the subject! Like her, many women artists worked on the Wiener Werkstätte postcards. While several well-known illustrators contributed drawings, many of the postcards were drawn by unknown artists, and some even by students from the decorative arts school.

The end of creation

The company’s balance sheet was disastrous after the war, and it was liquidated in 1932. No one took over the postcard series.

Today, the postcards are in great demand and sell on Delcampe at prices which are sometimes surprising. Some of the postcards sell for thousands of euros.

Would you like to discover other Wiener Werkstätte postcards? Go to www.delcampe.net, the collectors’ marketplace.

Article inspired by the study by Marc Lefèbvre

 

 

Written by Héloïse

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