Postcards by Paul Hey - Grimm Fairy Tales
Paul Hey was a prolific painter and designer who created hundreds of postcards. Scenes from fairy tales, especially by the Brothers Grimm, were among the most numerous and are still valuable among collectors.
Here is a collection of several dozen postcards with motifs from classic fairy tales with short explanations. They are sorted as the tales were sorted in the first edition of Children and Household tales (Kinder und Housemarchen) as Jakob and Wilhelm titled their famous book.
To avoid confusion their tales are marked by the abbreviation of the book's title (KHM) and serial number:
KHM 1 - The Frog King
This is the first scene from the first fairy tale in the book. Princess has a problem. Her golden ball has fallen in the veil. Will the frog help her out?
This scene presents the major conflict in the fairy tale about the Frog King. Princess gave a promise to the frog but didn't want to keep it. The frog was persistent and the king supported the frog, not his daughter!
KHM 3 - Mary's Child
Religious motifs were present pretty often in the first edition of Children and Household Tales. Mary's Child is one example. Such stories are not classified as fairy tales anymore and are mostly known only to literary historians and die-hard fans.
KHM 11 - Brother and Sister
The story is about a brother and a sister on the run. While she warned him not to drink from the enchanted brook, he couldn't resist and turned into a deer. This a lovely example of the consequences if you give in to temptation.
KHM 13 - Three Little Men in the Wood
Three Little Men in the Wood is one of the numerous fairy tales about two step-sisters. One is nice and rewarded for her behavior, and the other is not nice and consequently punished.
Step-mother, of course, played an important role.
Paul Hey made two illustrations for postcards with scenes from this story.
KHM 15 - Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel is the most famous fairy tale about a brother and a sister. It bears some similarities with The Little Brother and Little Sister above.
- children are lost in the wood,
- a witch is their enemy,
- the sister helps her brother to survive.
In the end, the cunning of little children prevails over the rough power of the witch.
KHM 19 - The Fisherman and His Wife
A fish is caught and willing to fulfill the wish of the fisherman. He gladly accepts but his wife is not satisfied ...
KHM 20 - Brave Little Tailor
Brave Little Tailor is yet one more tail about a man who improves his social status thanks to help his cleverness. The scene above shows two giants who should be defeated as one of the tasks he faces. The tailor is not able to fight them directly but more than willing to trick them into the fight of one against the other.
KHM 21 - Cinderella
Cinderella is probably the most popular fairy tale of all time. Paul Hey, just like countless other artists couldn't resist portraying her in the kitchen with the birds who are Cinderella's friends and magical helpers.
Yes, Paul Hey used the same scene twice!
KHM 24 - Mother Holle
Mother Holle is a character from Central Europe folklore. She is responsible for the changes of seasons of the year. When a girl comes to her place, she has to make up her bed. By shaking her bedding she causes snow.
KHM 26 - Little Red Cap
The scene above is one of the most known ones in the literature. Little Red Cap meets the wolf ... As you can see, this is the version with a bottle of wine in the girl's basket which is interpreted in many different ways. Especially if we know it's a bottle of red wine.
KHM 27 - Town Musicians of Bremen
Bremen Town Musicians are not from Bremen. They are just heading to this German city and never got there. Instead of that, they invade a hut, occupied by robbers, and established a nice home for all the animals in 'the band'.
KHM 33* - Puss in Boots
Puss in Boots is trying to convince the peasants to inform everybody that the land is owned by his master, not by an ogre who is the real owner. Puss is a typical trickster, just like many similar characters in folk tales and the message of Puss in Boots is somehow iffy. It's also important to note, that Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm included this story in their first edition only. When they realized it was not part of the German cultural heritage, they skipped it in later editions.
KHM 36 - The Magic Table, the Golden Donkey, and the Club in the Sack
Here we are again, with a classic plot: three brothers, three magic objects, an enemy (presented through three characters), and a happy end. This formula can be seen in countless fairy tales and is also used in other forms of literature (fiction and non-fiction), too. Number three is extremely useful and powerful in countless areas of communication.
KHM 39 - Elves and Shoemaker
Very interesting story about little helpers who secretly make shoes for a poor shoemaker and help him to become rich. When he and his wife decide to reward the elves, they stop working and leave the house! The moral? Don't be generous to your workers ...
KHM 50 - Briar Rose
Briar Rose, today more known as The Sleeping Beauty is another classic in children's literature. We can trace its origins at least to the 13th century and found several pretty saucy versions. The scene with the prince who finds the sleeping princess in the castle is present from the very beginning and Paul Hey is just one of thousands and thousands of artists, who tried to catch the magical feeling.
KHM 53 - Snow White
Snow White is another popular classic. It definitely owns a huge part of its popularity to seven dwarfs who are in this case very nice and forthcoming, although a bit incompetent. Again, we are dealing with the magical number three, a resurrection, and fierce competition between two women.
KHM 82 - Hans in Luck
Hans who finds luck in everything that happens to him is a typical story about a simpleton who constantly makes wrong decisions. This funny story can't be really presented as a fairy tale, but is definitely still popular among the kids, and, to be honest, not without a very special moral value.
KHM 89 - The Goose Girl
The Goose Girl is a classic fairy tale about growing up. Through treason, false identity, and a dilemma about keeping her promise (although enforced), she slowly but surely transforms from a naive girl to a marriage-worthy princess. Her golden hair is her signature sign and painters loved the scene of combing most of all.
KHM 119 - The Seven Swabians
Seven Swabians travel the world and their adventures are so funny, they are written and rewritten over at least five hundred years. Again, this is not a fairy tale by definition but worth reading anyway. Did you know in Germany people from Swabia (South part of the country) are called Swabians, but in Switzerland, all Germans are called Swabians?
KHM 153 - Star Money
The Star Money is a short story with a very strong message - all good deeds will be rewarded. The bigger the sacrifice, the higher will be the reward. The girl in this tale goes so far that she gives even her shirt to help poor people, which results in silver money dropping down the sky and making her rich in the end. So moralistic stories are not favored by the audience anymore for many years so The Star Money is almost forgotten today.
KHM 161 - The Snow-White and Rose-Red
The scene above presents the idyllic life of sisters named Snow-White and Rose-Red. They are nice and have many friends, including a talking bear, who is (what else) an enchanted prince. All three together have to deal with a wicked dwarf but their task is finished smoothly and without a real conflict this fairy tale slowly wanes out of fashion too.
KHM 187 Hare nad Hedgehog
Again, we are dealing with a story which can't be called a fairy tale. The Hare and the Hedgehog is a classic fale where wit defeats strength (or, to be more specific, speed). Brothers Grimm included all kinds of stories which they found suitable for their purpose, in their collection and the fable about the competition between hare and hedgehog can be easier found in collections of fables nowadays.
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