St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17 in the United States, but collectors found few postcards, greeting cards or objects to collect before 1900. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade is said to have taken place in 1601 in St. Augustine, Florida. But a major event is the New York City parade, which started in 1762.
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Roman Britain and kidnapped in the late fourth century, when he was 14 years old. He was taken to Ireland as a slave, but he escaped in 431 A.D. and converted the Irish to Christianity. Parties, dances, drinking and celebrations started about 1600, and the observance has grown into an important celebration not only in Ireland but also in the U.S.
There have been many symbols of the past celebrations to collect. The leprechaun is an important symbol. The mischievous, red-haired elf is usually pictured in a top hat, green jacket, tie and vest standing with a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. He represents the magic of fairies and the little people, and you are lucky if you find him and the gold.
Q: What are the symbols of St. Patrick’s Day, besides the leprechaun with the bucket of gold?
A: The shamrock is the first plant of spring in Ireland and represents rebirth. By the 17th century, it was the emblem of Ireland. The Celtic harp is another important emblem: It appears on the presidential seal, passports, official documents and coins.
A surprising number of symbols are food. Corned beef and cabbage are the traditional dinner. The corned beef is the leftover meat from the sailing ships. It was a cheap substitute for bacon bought by poor immigrants. Shepherd’s pie and soda bread also were inexpensive substitutes. Today, we also get green bagels and green beer. Save anything that pictures or represents these things as well as the religious symbols of the day. More collectibles are being made, displayed and kept each year.
Postcard, St. Patrick’s Day, The Top O’ The Mornin’ To You, leprechaun tipping his top hat, green overcoat, green-and-white-striped pants, embossed, divided back, Ellen Clapsaddle, International Art Publ. Co., printed in Germany, $30.
Currier & Ives print, St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, holding staff and book, green ground with serpents, lithograph, hand-colored, c. 1835, 14 x 10 inches, $170.
Decanter, Old Fitzgerald Whiskey, Sons of St. Patrick, Irish-American Signers of Declaration of Independence, bicentennial, 1776-1976, shamrock garlands, harp, eagle, ceramic, gold trim, crown finial, 4/5 qt., $265.
Advertising sign, “Always the Right Temperature For Guinness Stout,” tin over cardboard, button form, white, green border, set-in thermometer with red bezel, 1930s, 9 inches, $330.
TIP: China can be washed in warm water with mild soap. The addition of a little ammonia to the water will add that extra sparkle.
The 2022 “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide” contains more than 12,500 all-new prices with every price based on actual sales, never estimates. Available in bookstores and online.
© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.