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Ellen H. Clapsaddle

(1865* South Columbia, NY - 1934, NY)

Clapsaddle postcard #1Clapsaddle's illustrations are favorites of many, and she published more than three thousand signed postcards and designed countless more unsigned pictures.  Over half of her illustrations are of children, and the rest are more general scenes.  She was born the year the Civil War ended, an only child, attended a country school and graduated from Richfield Springs Seminary, New York, in 1882.  A self-taught artist, she gave private painting lessons until she attended Cooper Institute in New York City. There, she contracted to work for the International Art Company (IAC), and relocated to Germany to design articles as diverse as porcelain, calendars and greeting cards.  She returned to the U.S. in 1906 to become principal artist for the Wolf Company, a subsidiary of IAC.  

She was a very prolific artist, and her designs reflect the entire spectrum of seasonal and holiday themes, drawing upon folklore, traditions, games and nursery rhymes.  Unlike other artists whose illustrations were adapted for postcards, Clapsaddle designed specifically for the medium.  

During the height of her career with IAC, she invested her earnings in the booming German postcard industry. While on a business trip to Germany in August of 1914, World War I broke out.  In the confusion and destruction, Clapsaddle became stranded and ultimately destitute.  One of the Wolf Company partners went to Germany and, after a six month search, found her in poor health.  She returned safely to the U.S., but her health declined and she lost the ability to work. She died thirteen years later at the Peabody Home in New York.

* Some sources have her birth year as 1863.

Clapsaddle postcard #2        Clapsaddle postcard #3


                          Clapsaddle postcard # 4      


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