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TV on Greeting Cards

by Richard Sheaff

I collect certain categories of greeting cards (Deco, silhouette, photographic, wartime, etc.,etc), plus 2-3 specific categories which I find of interest because they so clearly reflect their bygone eras. One of these is smoking and cigarettes on greeting cards (of which there are an amazing number), another is spaceships/rockets/satellites on greetings cards (1950s), and another is television sets on greetings cards (1940s and 1950s).

Television, as we of a certain age well remember, seemed such an astonishing, miraculous and wonderful technological advance at the time, which in fact it was. Images of TV sets and  rooftop antennas were everywhere to be seen, including on greeting cards.

(As a don’t-get-me-started aside, it is my belief that—though little could we have known at the outset—TV would grow up to become largely a cultural wasteland filled with mind-numbingly trite fare; and even worse, would condition our entire nation to regard anything and everything seen on television as merely some sort of entertainment . . . including important real life issues such as politicians, elections, race relations, poverty, homelessness, facts vs nonsense.)

I don’t spend any time looking through modern greeting card racks to see whether smartphone screens are now as ubiquitous as television screens were in the 50s, but likely they are, suppose.


The concept of television was in the works earlier than we usually suppose. This 1928 magazine promises that it will coming  Soon!


This family is watching a 1949 Hallicrafter T-54 television set, the same TV our family had later in the early 1950s.


The Hallicrafter T-54 was really much like a short wave radio with a tiny screen. It had controls for vertical hold, horizontal hold, and gain, among other things. Channels were selected by pushing the buttons aligned along the bottom.


A 1936 card promising the wonders to come.


A 1940s birthday card with a reflective area so the recipient could see himself or herself “on tv”.


A similar card from the 1940s, featuring a combination radio/television.

A 1950s television studio Christmas card featuring reindeer musicians . . .


. . . and another highlighting Santa and a Christmas tree.


Greeting cards of all sorts . . . holidays, Valentine’s Day, Get Well, you name it . . . came to feature televisions.


A 1950s bread wrapper label celebrating the invention of television.


Rooftop antennas were an essential component of television reception in the early days.


Antennas spelling out “NOEL” on the cover, and a TV set inside.


The happy couple celebrating the holidays have become television stars!


Ah, the wonders of televison.


The separation between real life and what is seen on a TV set began to blur early on.


A 1949 card featuring another combination radio/television.

 It is hard to know what to say about this blotter advertising a “T.V. Saddle Seat” . . . a saddle placed over the toilet commode, so Junior can “bring TV influence into the bathroom”!