American Christmas Cards 1900-1960


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Kenneth L. Ames

View Inside Format: Paper
Price: $40.00
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The power of Christmas derives from the appeal of its repeated rituals, the presumed antiquity of its traditions, and its ability to adapt to changing cultural conditions. Christmas cards seemed inevitable and ubiquitous, but in recent years the genre has been visibly in decline. It is now evident that the Christmas card was a culturally specific artifact, a distinctive way in which a fundamental human gesture could be expressed within a commercial, materialistic, and rapidly changing society. 

This stylish book explores the imagery, graphic forms, subject matter, and significance of Christmas cards in their chronological timeframe to reveal an important area of American material culture. There is much to surprise and delight.

Distributed for the Bard Graduate Center

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Bard Graduate Center

Kenneth L. Ames is professor of American decorative arts at the Bard Graduate Center. He is the author of Beyond Necessity: Art in the Folk Tradition and Death in the Dining Room and Other Tales of Victorian Culture, and editor of Victorian Furniture.


Bard Graduate Center

“A total delight whatever the season and well worth the money”–Richard Edmonds, The Birmingham Post (Books for Christmas)

"Whether you're a student of graphics and American material culture, or merely fascinated by the power of images and the appeal of Christmas, this book is well worth the price of admission. In fact, flipping through the pages is a bit like filling up on a bowl of Christmas candy—without the calories. Highly recommended."—Judy Penz Sheluk, New England Antiques Journal

"[T]houghtful and informative."—Maine Antique Digest

“It's a perfect guide for collectors of ephemera, collectors of graphic history, and, of course, collectors of Christmas material.”—Fine Books & Collections

"The book, edited by Kenneth L. Ames, is the first to offer a systematic survey of Christmas card imagery, and traces trends and themes from throughout the first six decades of the 20th century."—QUEST
ISBN: 9780300176872
Publication Date: November 29, 2011
Publishing Partner: Distributed for the Bard Graduate Center
320 pages, 7 x 8 3/4'
250 color illus.
The American Circus

Edited by Susan Weber, Kenneth Ames, and Matthew Wittmann

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