Thursday, 14 February 2013

an old love letter in disguise

Bernath képeslap leporelló régi kárpátaljáról magyar népviselet old postcard hungarian folk attire subcarpathia leporello

I thought I'd show you this vintage novelty leporello postcard from before the 1940's on the occasion of Valetine's Day....

My sister sent it to me alongside the old cobbler family photos I blogged about before here.

At front it has a sweet folklore inspired illustration, plus a fold-out leporello of scenic photographs of the area in Transylvania called Subcarpathia. It carries on the back a couple of vintage stamps from Old Hungary, and a simple message of polite greetings. What makes me think that it might be more than just a simple greeting, is a lot of subtle details.

old hungarian transylvanian postcard handwriting Bernath leporello stamps


The first one is that it's written to an unmarried woman, as he's addressing her as 'noble miss'.

In olden times in Hungary, and I'm sure in other cultures too, patriarchal or not, were certain ways to go about courting a young lady. You'd want to appeal to the father as well as to the daughter - more than usually, the father had the last word in sealing fates and marriages, and literally did or did not give her daughter away. So sending an understated, polite message on an expensive novelty postcard showing a flood of views from your travels was sure to impress the careful parent of the special lady.

Then, another giveaway clue is the attire of the cute kitschy couple on the front of the card. They are dressed in traditional Hungarian folk wear, the celebratory type - the guy looks like the best man and the girl like a flower girl. They are carrying a huge wooden trunk (which flips up to reveal the scenic views) which cannot be anything else but the 'tulip trunk' of the traditional Hungarian folk wedding holding the bride's matrimonial heirlooms.


The little message on the back in beautiful old handwriting just says With greetings from Kőrösmező, with many hand-kisses but I think it reads more like I'm thinking of you in this far-away land, will you be my wife...

Well, however you will spend today, I hope you'll have a Happy Valentine's / Friendship / Thurs- Day, everyone!

14 comments:

  1. Did you think about the stamp-language? I can't find any good explanations right now, but I remember that back in the old days the way you organized the stamps on a postcard or letter could have various significations - and the stamps here look like it might be just that :) A quick link I found: http://www.mammana.org/briefmarkensprache/, but this one is only about using single stamps, not two stamps...
    Well, I hope you're doing well!

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    1. That is so interesting! I have never heard of the language of stamps! Thanks for this idea and for the link Caddi - according to those tables, it looks like my gentleman was trying to tell noble miss that he was thinking of her, with a little upward leaning of 'Do you love me?' :)

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  2. What a cool idea! Love how you analyzed it! All you get today is some code in a text message... ha ha, I guess we're less creative today!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Yeah this whole card would look very different if it was a text message, haha - 'thinkin of u, many handxxxxx, <3 Pista' :)

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  3. I was immediately struck by this image (and I adore the fold out part too) - but I love the way you uncovered its hidden mysteries for me.

    I so want to recreate that tulip trunk, it's beautiful!

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    1. that'd be so cool if you painted your own tulip trunk! i might slip you some nice hungarian embroidery motifs ;)

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  4. what a smart young man : )
    very interesting analysis!
    and beautiful card!

    handkisses, hihi : )
    so different times!

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    1. i know - it's kind of creepy if a guy kisses your hand these days, well I'm not a fan of it anyway...
      my little sister has got a great eye, to pick this up and send it to me!

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  5. oh it is a really nice card!
    like the explanations and stories you tell.
    may it be warm, loving day!

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  6. awesome, so interesting and ingenious. I love your vintage and Hungarian related posts. :)

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    1. thanks Masa, it's lovely to hear! x

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