Sailor Postcards with Humor

This page is devoted to the postcards that showed a sailors life and displayed a little humor.  One of the early artists and publishers was Karl Lewis in Yokohama.  The card below drawing attention to a sailor's difficulty in pronouncing words when traveling from home - to Honolulu - to Vladivostock - Japan.


the semaphore post card series

This series of cards was issued with "flag signals" that you sent messages to your sweetheart.  The first card was a "Signal Key Card" that provided the key to the messages on each card.  This series was published by , The Middlesex Company, Middletown, Connecticut.  Thus far I have only found the six cards.

california's all right

This series was issued for the Fleet's arrival in California.  The artist on the cards is O. Riehl and there is no publisher listed.  Otto Riehl was an artist that worked out of Alameda, California.  Born 1875 and died in 1936.  These cards and a single painting are all that I can find regarding his history.


cards by h. h. stratton

H. H. Stratton operated a publishing and souvenir company out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  His most prolific work was between 1907 and 1917.  He published many international postcards and booklet, evening creating souvenir pins during the Mexican War.  His most popular series was of the Great White Fleet going around the world and can be viewed on this site at this link:  H. H. Stratton Series

Unfortunately, Stratton was also know for stealing the images of other photographers and artists, retouching them, and printing them under his name.

The cards at right were both published for the Fleet's arrival in California.  "My son, those are Bob Evan's fighting ships from Hampton Roads."  The second card with a "fill in the blank" for the ship and the date in 1908.


seagoing postcard series

These two cards are part of the "Seagoing Postcard Series" published by the Middlesex Company of Connecticut.  They are both nice colorful cards depicting the life of a sailor going around the world.

The card at left, "Flying the Homeward-Bound Pennant" bears an uncanny resemblance to the painting by Henry Reuterdahl for the June 1908 cover of Collier's Weekly magazine shown at right.  Apparently this type of plagiarism was common during this period and impossible to control. 


life in the united states navy

The first two cards are part of the humor cards that Karl Lewis published.  Both cards mailed from the USS Charleston in 1909, the first showing a scene on the mess decks when chow is being served and the cat (below the table) and the goat (knocking over the sailor) join the meal.  The second card "scrub and wash cloths" shows sailors on deck doing their laundry.  The second two cards are photos he staged with sailors and local women in humorous situations.


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