Louis Prang, with his L. Prang & Co. of Boston, was probably the most successful of the early greeting card producers in this country. He arrived in the United States for Europe ;in 1850, already trained in the techniques of printing.
He soon started his own lithography shop and by the mid-1860, was among the foremost designers and producers in the field of colored lithography .He was the first to apply the term “chromos” to this type of color printing.
Although there is o record of Prang having produced any playing cards, one interesting novelty from the 1880s with his copyright on them are some valentines that look as if they were printed on the backs of playing cards.
Their size is exactly the same as the standard, square-cornered, wide cards of the period and they are printed on the same quality of card stock (according to Dick Martin in an old issue of Hobbies magazine.) They also havae the same back design, typical of the late 19th-century playing cards, in purple, gray and pale yellow.
Martin described tow of these cards, the Ace of Hearts and the Three of Hearts. The hearts are I red and the verses in black.
The Ace reads:
“A heart transfixed fro Cupid’s bow
Most surely would be apropos
Without a line;
Or, everybody will admit,
It comes within an Ace of it:
The Three states:
“Hearts were never known to lie
(Except inside a giblet pie)
In peace and quiet;
For by all judges ‘tis avowed
That two is company, three’s a crowd
If not a riot.
Wherefore, to be my Valentine
She must be wholly, solely mine.”
Examples of this work of Prang’s from the 1880s would make great additons to any collection of valentines.
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