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Battle of Flowers Parade Postcards

April 15, 2016

In 1900, less than ten years after the first Battle of Flowers Parade, book store owner Nic Tengg began advertising tissue paper and other material for use in decorating entries for the parade, the primary event of Spring Carnival (now Fiesta San Antonio). A few years later, on April 14, 1907, he placed an advertisement in the San Antonio Light listing an expanded inventory of carnival goods, including festooning, welcoming flags, confetti, whistles, and “Battle of Flowers Parade Post Cards.”  The postcards were produced by the British firm of Rafael Tuck and Sons in London.

The Tuck firm was one of the most well-known during the “postcard boom” in the early 1900s. Before issuing the Battle of Flowers series, they produced a set of color postcards of San Antonio street scenes. About 1905, Tengg also published a set of postcards with black and white halftone views taken by local photographers. It isn’t known if Tengg encouraged the Tucks to produce the Battle of Flowers series.

The set of eight cards are each labeled “Oilette,” a trade name used by Tuck for postcards reproduced from paintings. The Battle of Flowers cards were among the first to have divided backs that allowed users to write messages on the address side of a postcard.

Special Collections has a complete set of the Battle of Flowers Parade postcards, all donated by Marie Whitehead. Each was mailed separately in April 1907 to Mrs. Whitehead’s aunt, Ida Schaefer, residing temporarily in Galveston and not able to attend the parade.

 

Swan car with fanciful background. (MS 362: 097-0902)

Swan car with background depicting a residential neighborhood.  (MS 362: 097-0902)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Flag and Spring Carnival Flag. (MS 362: 097-0901)

Texas Flag and Spring Carnival Flag. (MS 362: 097-0901)

Joske Brother’s entry in the Battle of Flowers Parade in 1904. It is likely that all the postcard paintings of the parade were based on photographs such as this one, which was among the photographic views of San Antonio sold in a photographic supply shop on Alamo Plaza. (MS 362: 101-0089)

Joske Brother’s entry in the Battle of Flowers Parade in 1904. It is likely that all the postcard depictions of the parade were based on photographs such as this one, which was among the photographic views of San Antonio sold in a photographic supply shop on Alamo Plaza in the early 1900s. (MS 362: 101-0089)

Tuck and Sons used artistic license to transport Joske’s float from a street outside a boarding house to a better location directly in front of the Alamo. (MS 362: 097-0904)

Tuck and Sons used artistic license to transport Joske’s float from a street outside a rooming house to a better location directly in front of the Alamo. (MS 362: 097-0904)

Float representing a boat in the Spanish American War. In the background is the Federal Courthouse and Post Office on the north side of Alamo Plaza. (MS 362: 097-0903)

Float representing a boat in the Spanish American War. In the background is the Federal Courthouse and Post Office on the north side of Alamo Plaza. (MS 362: 097-0903)

Men in automobile on the south side of the park in Alamo Plaza. The artist replaced the trees with dense shrubbery. (MS 362: 097-0905)

Men in automobile on the south side of the park in Alamo Plaza. The artist replaced the trees with dense shrubbery. (MS 362: 097-0905)

Parade entry inspired by a theatrical production of the time. (MS 362: 097-0906)

Parade entry inspired by a theatrical production of the time. (MS 362: 097-0906)

One of the many automobiles and carriages entered by their owners. (MS 362: 097-0907)

One of the many decorated automobiles entered by individuals. (MS 362: 097-0907)

State and Spring Carnival flags against background of a fireworks exhibition, held at San Pedro Park baseball field during Carnival Week. (MS 362: 097-0900)

State and Spring Carnival flags against background of a fireworks exhibition, held at San Pedro Park baseball field during Carnival Week. (MS 362: 097-0900)

 

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