In Vintage Inspiration

Ephemera Friday: 1948 Swedish Greeting Card

Just a quick post today to share some sketchbook doodles inspired by a vintage Swedish greeting card from 1948. I bought a few holiday cards from a super awesome vintage shop while visiting my aunt (as well as Tasha and her mom!) last month, and just had to share this one because it’s one of my favorites.


The back of the card has “1948” written in pencil at the top right corner, probably added by Amalgamated shop to prove the date. I’m assuming they found the card in its original envelope, or had another means of establishing the date it was made. It also reads “No. 3904 d. MADE IN SWEDEN” and “COPYRIGHT ESKIL HOLM, STOCKHOLM” printed in blue ink along the back bottom margin. The ink colors are still so vibrant even though the paper has aged.


I can’t tell you how much I’m in love with the illustrations on this card! They’re fantastic. I bought five other vintage cards that day, two of them also have a Swedish/Dutch theme (both from the late 30s and 40s), but they were produced in America. I’m happy I found one that was authentic to Sweden. I’ve always been a fan of American Folk Art, especially Pennsylvania Dutch style, as well as Scandinavian Folk Art and design. This kind of ephemera is like treasure to me!


I find the inscription to be slightly passive depressive, though. “I hope we will see you during the holiday season. It seems as though we saw you so seldom. Have a happy holiday.” …I sense a bit of a guilt trip in those words! Makes you wonder who the card was addressed to and what relationship they had with the writer. At least the front of the card is jovial and uplifting lol.


I’ve been slowly working to grow my portfolio so we’ll see what these doodles become in the future!

Have an excellent weekend, everyone 🙂


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  • Anna

    Being Swedish myself it’s of course very fun to see Swedish stuff popping up in unexpected places like this. The little girl with the “pretzel” is probably holding a saffron bread (which is a very traditional Christmas pastry). They all wear traditional folk costumes from Dalecarlia (Dalarna), the parishes of Mora, Leksand and Rättvik.

    • Thank you for pointing that out, Anna! I appreciate your insight. Seems I have some research to do 🙂

  • Nina

    Have you seen ‘Fanny & Alexander’? Great movie (if you have a few days to spare, ha) and you’ll recognise one of the scenes from your card…

    • No I haven’t but I’ll add it to my list of movies to watch! 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion.

  • I’m loving the print on that card, and how intriguing is that message inside?!

  • Debra Ward

    There’s something about those post card colours that I adore. Probably because stuff like this floated throughout my house as I was growing up. Both my parents immigrated here after the war (one from Holland and one from the Ukraine) Gifts were often sent from “back home” in the form of tea towels or tablecloths with similar colours as your postcard for many years. I still gravitate towards things like these in thrift or secondhand stores.
    Your doodles look like more then just doodles I see a fantastic fabric coming from that.:)

    • That’s such a wonderful story, I can see why you love the colors so. I love them as well!
      We’ll see if I can make a fabric design that does justice to such fantastic colors and designs 🙂

  • Lauriana

    Of course I haven’t seen the cards that remark referred to, but I don’t think Swedish and Dutch themes and/or folk art are the same, or were so in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Except images about ice skating, maybe.
    (I am Dutch, that is why that stuck out to me. And I don’t think 1930/40’s Dutch folk art would have much in common with Pennsylvania Dutch stuff either. Those people are descended from German settlers from the 17th and 18th century)
    And about the original purpose of the card: I know many people emigrated from various European countries to the US in the 20th century but their relatives would have written to them in their native language. And they wouldn’t have expected them to visit from so far away. This particular text makes it more likely that the card was imported from Sweden either by a business or by someone who had visited the country and later mailed to a friend or relative in the same country.

    I hope I’m not being too preachy with this comment. My inner history geek woke up 😉
    I quite like your doodles though and I’m looking forward to see how you will develop them further.

    • Hey Lauriana, Obviously I’m not Dutch so I can only speak about this subject from an Americanized perspective. That’s why I mentioned the two other cards I bought had a “Swedish/Dutch theme” but were produced in America (meaning they have been Americanized). Since I didn’t actually post pictures of those cards, you can only take my word for what they look like. If you Google “Little Dutch Girl Motif” you will see all sorts of Americanized art work in this particular style, which was definitely popular in the 30s and 40s (as well as earlier and later). All I know is this particular card I’ve shown was designed and imported from Sweden, due to the copyright information on the back. I am aware of the fact that “Pennsylvania Dutch” is an Americanized word that refers to a group of Germanic people who emigrated to Pennsylvania. I also know that traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art, in my eyes, does look very similar to the motifs on this particular card. I know this because I live very close to Pennsylvania, and have many friends who live in the parts of Pennsylvania with very old “Pennsylvania Dutch” roots. “Folk Art” is a term that can be very generalized or vague, and can be interpreted in different ways. I was merely making a statement in this post saying that I love this particular greeting card because of the way it looks. I also love Scandinavian Folk Art and Pennsylvania Dutch Art because of the way they look, based on what I personally have seen. I realize that Folk Art is a big umbrella term that has hundreds of unique origins with different styles. That being said, Folk Art is still “Folk Art” and it’s my favorite type of art.

      As far as who wrote the card, how the card was obtained, or what the writer’s intentions were, no one can possibly know unless the original writer or recipient comes forward to explain. Until then, we can only make assumptions.

      I hope I don’t sound too preachy either, but you need to know that this blog post was meant to be a lighthearted way for me to share a late 1940s greeting card I found, along with some of my design work that was inspired by it. It was not meant to be a history lesson, and I didn’t mean for anyone to feel like they needed to give one.

      I’m glad to hear you like my doodles, thank you 🙂

  • What beautiful doodles and such sweet cards!

  • jannapyj

    I am really hoping this leads to a new spoonflower print! :o)


  • Stewart Fiber Arts

    What a lovely card! Great inspiration for sketching. And the colors are amazing! As is the giant pretzel the little girl is holding. It’s like half her size!

    • Hahah I saw that! I bet mammoth pretzels are delicious.

  • Ooh, I love these posts of yours! The postcard is lovely (guilt trip notwithstanding!) and your doodles are great 🙂 I love folk art too, but more Polish/Russian folk style.

    • Thanks, Sarah! I love pretty much all folk style 🙂

  • That inscription IS sad. I’m always intrigued to see what old cards say. It seems as though all the handwriting on old cards is the same…do you ever notice that?

    • You’re totally right about the handwriting! I have noticed that.

  • Hannah Ström

    Really nice, it looks like swedish “skånskt yllebroderi” a special embroidery style from the south part of Sweden.

    • Ooooo Hannah thank you so much for introducing me to that embroidery style! I’m researching it now. So beautiful!

  • Awww those images are delightful! I loooove Scandinavian folk art designs. What a cute (if um, kinda mean contents lol) card!

    • I knew you’d like this post! Which reminds me, I need to send you your Christmas present lol. #friendoftheyear