Novelty postcards have the most work and were the most costly to make during the Golden Age and are the most neglected now. Perhaps because so many have very little interest. Novelty postcards include Hold-to-lights, Die-cuts, leather, silk or metal applied, printed on silk, burnt wood, mechanical and on and on. They are just about anything but the flat printed or real photo postcards.
One category is postcards made of leather. They were regularly sent through the mail for a penny and addressed in ink, of course. Most of the messages were printed on the front by the publishers, some were created by the sender. Leather postcards many times have hand colored images, or more leather or paper applied images to perk up the design.
The selling point of the leather cards were they could be made into a pillow. One of the postcards feature a woman with a pillow asking that more leather cards be sent to her, so she can do just that. Because this became the fad to make Souvenir pillows many of the leather postcards have manufactured holes punched around the perimeter to make it easier to lace them together to form the pillow. A leather fringe was sold to finish the border of the pillow. If you are lucky, you might find a complete one at an antique show or on-line.
The most important leather postcards feature political campaigns for Roosevelt and those featuring baseball images. These are not common. To add to the already unusual substance of the cards some are die cut into shapes. The most common are shoes with verses like Greetings from a Tenderfoot, trunks, and houses. Shapes other than these are more difficult to find. I have one in my collection that is an actual doll, stuffed with unknown material but has a true publisher postcard back. Some have very small metal or ceramic dolls attached and the postcard is really just a tag for shipping that item. One Christmas leather postcard is in the shape of a coin purse. Therefore, it was both a greeting and a gift.
Leather postcards like regular postcards reflect the social history of the time. The mottos and comic images are great. There are many that feature Native American Indians, Patriotic images, sports, holidays and animals. With the Roosevelt Campaign in full swing during the prime time of leather postcards many feature Teddy Bears both die cut shapes and regular shapes. A highly collected one is the Days of the Week series. However, the hardest to find leather Teddy Bear postcard is a bib for your Teddy Bear that you cut out of the postcard. Most likely most of these were cut up by children and used on their favorite bear.
The major publisher of leather postcards is W. S. Heal. Most leather postcard are the standard brown leather color but some are snow white, but not common. A large selection of leather postcard are Souvenirs of local cities which were sent by both tourists and local residence.
Don’t be afraid to look through the leather category, you might be pleasantly surprise at the result.