The Art & Humor of
A. Stanley Johnson of Waupun, Wisconsin

presented by The History Center on Main Street,
Mansfield, PA
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How We Do Things, Second Ed.
Site Under Construction starting June 2018 -
Not Done yet - Feb 2019
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Any Old Way

About Exaggeration

By Joyce M. Tice

             The tall tale is older than Beowulf or Ulysses. Bragging about the better, the bigger, the most has always been entertaining. Exaggeration or Tall-Tale postcards, the heyday of which was in the early twentieth century but which  continues to this day, are an extension of that tradition. An exaggeration postcard is any presentation where an object or idea is expanded out of standard scale with usually humorous results.

Alfred Stanley Johnson, Jr. of Waupun, Wisconsin was not the only and not the first producer of this genre of cards. In the parlance of the early twentieth century they were called novelty freak cards. The collection  presented in this book include only the Johnson productions.

I first encountered Johnson’s humor in 1997 as part of a local collection which included two examples with local names overprinted. I soon discovered that there were many more to be found, each more entertaining and creative than another.

I hope this collection can be available a century from now. The postcards are already a century old, and the chances that in another century a few copies of this then aged book may survive in attics or archives will extend their life.  I consider my own collection filled when I have one good example of each scene.  I would not attempt to acquire one from each of the many towns where they were imprinted. I do include some variants where the overprinted label or the back is non-standard.

The combined collection of those who have participated in this revision is still not quite complete—almost, though.  We have at least been able since the publication of the first edition in 2013, determined what the entire catalog is using copyright registrations. When I show multiple images of the same scene, it is to demonstrate the variability that we encounter as we search. I will include images in the book of examples I know to exist but do not have in my own collection. I will also include an occasional card from another photographer where appropriate to illustrate a point.

The cards are very appealing and entertaining and once the collecting bug gets hold of a person, there is no stopping it until all are found. We are still working toward that goal and enjoying the hunt.    

You can examine the cards by year, by title, or by subject and learn about them and their author. Click on all the buttons to see every card.

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