Gem Birthday Series 1 by E. Nash

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Gem Birthday postcards!

All of the material you have access to here -- the instructive booklets, the nostalgic postcards, the boldly graphic ephemera, and all of the historical information researched and shared from the mind of the woman who is making it all happen -- can easily fit into one 8 x 10 foot room in an old Victorian farmhouse, but you would never see it without the investment of the time it takes to produce such a site and the caloric input such a site requires in the form of food for the writer, graphic designer, and database manager, as well as the US currency needed to pay for the computers, software applications, scanners, electricity, and internet connectivity that bring it out of that little room and into the world.

So, as you can see, this site is the darling of many, and it is growing at a rapid rate ... but although it is "free," there also is a cost. The financial support of my Patreon subscribers -- my Patrons -- underwrites this cost.

E. Nash "Gem Birthday Series 1"

Embossed, gilded, varnished, and enlivened with lovely sho-card lettering and calligraphy, the 1908 "Gem Birthday Series 1" is one of two valued birthstone-and-flower postcard series issued by E. Nash. In addition to the second birthstone-and-flower series, known to collectors as the "Multicoloured Star" set, this publisher also produced the "Series M-6 Flowers" set, featuring Floriography or The Language of Flowers.

Unlike most other Birthday and Birthstone postcards, this Nash set does not list the Zodiac signs of the months nor does it make use of any version of the Tiffany Birthstone Poem of 1870. Instead it presents original doggerel verses, filled with good cheer but rendered inane by broken scansion, inconsistent punctuation, misspelled words, unexplained vacillations between "thy" and "your" in once sentence, and faulty grammar that an editor such as myself longs to fix ... alas, more than 110 years too late!

I do not know the name of the gifted artist-letterer who painted these images, or who crafted the fine lithographs for reproduction, because, like many commercial artists then and now, such art-workers were usually not allowed to sign or initial their creations.

One oddity about this series is that each card exists in two formats -- identical except that in one version, the names of the months are omitted. The "non-monthed" cards were probably printed in order to extend the sale-dates associated with each card. They are alike in every other way to the regular series, and can be found equally frequently in vintage postcard and paper ephemera collections, but they are somehow incomplete, for there is often a gap in the art where the name of the month was expected to appear. I don't intend to reproduce the full set of "non-monthed" cards from this series, and over the years i have gradually replaced all of them in my collection by giving them away when i have found properly month-designated cards -- but see the bottom of this page for one sample of this secondary set.


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-01, January, Garnet, Snowdrop

"'Tis Constancy the Garnet shows
The Snowdrop sweet innocence
Your Guiding Star with radiance
Glows and bless you with common sense."

  • Month: January
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Garnet
  • Birth Flower: Snowdrop
  • Motto: Wishing you A Joyous Birthday


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-02, February, Amethyst, Violet

"Your flower is the Violet
For modesty it's known
The Amethyst sincerity
A royal birthday stone
Your lucky Star sheds happiness
No matter where you roam."

  • Month: February
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Amethyst
  • Birth Flower: Violet
  • Motto: Wishing you A Happy Birthday


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-03, March, Bloodstone, Daffodil

"The Daffodil of golden yellow
Signifies great wealth,
Your birthday has the Bloodstone
To show strong mind and health
And ever shines your bright star
Good cheer from near and far."

  • Month: March
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Bloodstone
  • Birth Flower: Daffodil
  • Motto: Birthday Joys


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-04, April, Diamond, Lily

"The emblem of Purity is the Lily White
And the Diamond sweet innocence your guiding light
May your Star up in the firmament
Shine ever, ever bright."

  • Month: April
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Diamond
  • Birth Flower: Lily
  • Motto: A Happy Birthday to You


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-05, May, Emerald, Tulip

"The Emerald success in love,
The Tulip self reliance
Thy radiant star up in the sky
Fortells courage and defiance."

  • Month: May
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Emerald
  • Birth Flower: Tulip
  • Motto: Birthday Greeting


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-06, June, Pearl, Rose

"I send you when sweet Roses bloom,
A symbol of Love divine.
Your birthday stone the priceless Pearl,
Health and long life define.
Thy star's bright rays on this your day,,
Dissolves all sorrows in its way."

  • Month: June
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Pearl
  • Birth Flower: Roses
  • Motto: Many Happy Returns of the Day


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-07, July, Ruby, Carnation

"The Flower is the Carnation
A token of sweet truth
The Ruby is a spark of love
Sent from Heaven to happy youth.
Thy star's lustrous rays
Turn Nights into Days."

  • Month: July
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Ruby
  • Birth Flower: Carnation
  • Motto: Birthday Greeting


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-08, August, Sardonyx, Pansies

"Sardonyx is a Royal stone
A gem of felicity
The Pansy stands for thoughtfulness
A sweet simplicity.
Thy Star leads thee right
From darkness into light."

  • Month: August
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Sardonyx
  • Birth Flower: Pansy
  • Motto: A happy Birthday


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-09, September, Sapphire, Daisies

"The Sapphire of heavenly hue
Brings great wisdom unto you
The blooming Aster tells you true
Life's happiness you will never rue
Thy Star shines out from the sky above
And its rays disclose the light of Love."

  • Month: September
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Sapphire
  • Birth Flower: Aster
  • Motto: Wishing you a Happy Birthday


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-10, October, Opal, Goldenrod

"The Goldenrod a guide to wealth,
Thy thoughts are fancy free
The iridescent Opal bids Hope
May the world be kind to thee,
And that thy star may guide you
Through Life's path wher'ere you be."

  • Month: October
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Opal
  • Birth Flower: Goldenrod
  • Motto: Wishing you a Happy Birthday


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-11, November, Topaz, Chrysanthemum

"The Topaz rays display
That you'll be true and gay.
Chrysanthemum thy flower
Will give many a happy hour.
Thy Star with ray of gold
A bright future doth unfold."

  • Month: November
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Topaz
  • Birth Flower: Chrysanthemum
  • Motto: Birthday Greeting


E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-12, December, Poinsettia, Turquoise

"December's child shall live to bless
The Turquoise that insures success
Poinsettia with its Cardinal bloom,
In your heart kind thoughts entomb.
Star in the heaven that shines to night
Unfolds prosperity in its Light."

  • Month: December
  • Zodiac Sign: --
  • Birthstone: Turquoise
  • Birth Flower: Poinsettia
  • Motto: A Happy Birthday


At the request of my Patron and friend Deacon Millett, here is a sample of a "non-monthed" card in this series. It is from August:

E. Nash Gem Birthday Series 1-08, August, Sardonyx, Pansies with NO MONTH

You get the same pretty art, the same doggerel poetry, and just a big hole in the layout where the name of the month was supposed to have been surprinted.

One theory about these "non-monthed" cards is that the series was so popular that it was reprinted several times. The embossing, gilding, and surpinting of the month-names in specially-formulated inks required extra passes through the press, and between reprints, the surprint plates were lost somehow, and a decision was made to run the reprints regardless of the loss

Another theory about these "non-monthed" cards is that postcard dealers wanted non-dated cards, in the belief that they would sell better on random days of the year. This sounds logical, but it does pose two problems:

First, everyone at that time was familiar with the The Tiffany Birthstone Poem and how it described the birthstones of the months, so it would seem very strange indeed to send a person born in October a birthday card telling them that their gem was the Bloodstone, when that was a well-known emblem of the month of March, and was shown as such on every other Birthday and Birthstone postcard set in existence.

Second, if removing month-dates for sales purposes was the justification for the change, then it is worth noting that the poem for December refers to the month within its text, and so that card at least was still dated, even without the surprint.

However they came about, the non-monthed cards appear just about as frequently in collections and through online sales. They just are not as pretty or as worth collecting, in my opinion.

See Also

catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
Your Wate and Fate

Special thanks to my dear husband and creative partner nagasiva yronwode for illustrations, scans, and clean-ups.