At the recent Greater L.A. Vintage Postcard and Paper Show, the second vendor I came to had a section of postcards labeled “Exaggeration.” Dating from the 1910s-’30s, they were mostly produce-centric–a farmer loading a truck of cabbages as big as he is, harvesting corn that really would reach an elephant’s eye, etc. There were several of a man riding a trout, but only one of a woman riding a grasshopper across the railroad tracks.
Mr. Conard’s work, it turns out, was featured in a “Tall Tales Postcard” exhibition at Michigan State University. Evidently, he was known for his oversized grasshoppers, in reference to a plague of them in Kansas in 1935!
I didn’t have enough cash to cover the penciled price on this gem, but the vendor let me buy it for what I had, which was very kind. “I don’t know how much it is really,” he said, “I just haven’t seen one like it.”
He’d picked up an exaggeration postcard at the show himself, one of human-sized chickens, for his son. He told me how he used to bring his four children to postcard fairs with him, and two of them, now grown, still collect in their own specific ways. The son for whom the chicken postcard was bound only collects chicken postcards. He raises chickens too. “The yard’s a mess,” his father said. One of his daughters, meanwhile, only collects postcards of rabbits.
As it happens, jackrabbits were F.D. Conard’s other specialty. He called them Kansas varmints.
Check back soon for more finds from the vintage postcard show!