A murderous rabbit, terrifying children with egg-shaped heads and a woman being whipped – these are the very creepy Easter cards beloved by the Edwardians.
While Easter today features heart-warming imagery of fluffy bunnies and smiling chicks, the Edwardians adored sending cards with bizarre and often sinister oddities to celebrate the holiday.
The remarkable collection features some disturbing and surreal Easter illustrations, including babies taking hammers to hatching eggs and an menacing rabbit watching another flounder in the water.
‘Easter Greetings!’: Chicks run for their lives as two blonde babies armed with hammers smash their eggs, with one appearing to persevere with the tool despite a chick squawking up at him in this bizarre Easter card from the Edwardian era
Four children creepily appear with egg heads in red, yellow, blue and orange in this weird ‘Easter Greeting’ card from the early 20th century
The ritual whipping of girls shown on an Easter card from Moravia, 1910 (left) and a depraved-looking Easter bunny smirking with a flower in its mouth as it watches another rabbit laden with a huge backpack full of eggs struggling in a stream by the meadow in this Easter card from 1909 (right)
En Garde! A cavalry of rabbits dressed to the nines in military attire prepare to joust while a crowd of comrades watches on in this greetings card from 1910, wishing, ‘With best Easter Wishes’
One early twentieth century card shows a human rabbit flirting up a storm with a besotted young girl – whilst a 1906 postcard has a petrifying family of human eggs on the cover.
Many of the seasonal cards in the series include illustrations of sadistic animals.
A late nineteenth century card shows a cruel bunny watching another rabbit drown with the caption ‘Easter Greetings’ – and another German postcard from the 1910s features a vicious baby chick shooting a passing hare with a rifle.
A cavalry of Easter bunnies ride on noble rooster steeds, with their commander holding a lance as he – like his rooster – is decorated in the colours and flourishes of nobility in this eccentric card with ‘Easter Wishes’ from 1906
‘Easter Joy attend you’: Two chicks dressed in military regalia, one with a rifle, the other with a sword, appear to be involved in highly animated conversation with a female who stands in the guard hut behind a knocked over basket and broken Easter eggs in this card from 1906
Meanwhile another 1910 Easter card from the Czech Republic shows a woman being whipped.
In the Czech Republic, a tradition of spanking or whipping women is sometimes carried out on Easter Monday.
According to tradition, the spanking may be painful, but it’s not intended to cause suffering.
A legend says that women should be spanked with a whip in order to keep their health, beauty, and fertility during the next year.
A rabbit dressed like an Edwardian gentleman in tails with a top hat attempts to woo a young female as the flowers of spring blossom in the trees in this bizarre Easter card from the Edwardian era, circa 1905
A poor rabbit is strapped up like a pack mule with two massive hatching eggs from which chicks are poking their heads in this strange card from 1912, wishing ‘A Happy Easter To You’
A gigantic egg shell has been transformed into a gondola, with the strange-looking bunny steering two cherubic children across a lake in this Easter card illustration
One of the bunnies in this drawing attempts to save their load of eggs as mean frogs and angry wasps ruin the rabbits’ Easter picnic in this card from 1910
A trio of rabbits blow streams of smoke from pipes made of Easter egg shells stuffed with spring flowers in this card from 1907
This cheeky lad has caused a frenzy among a mother hen’s little chicks as he holds the big bird in his arms in this 1910 Easter card from Germany wishing ‘Fröhliche Ostern’ (‘Happy Easter’)
Although the tradition of sending Easter cards is less popular today, it was common in the late nineteenth century until the end of the First World War.
With the introduction of the halfpenny stamp in 1870, the cost of postage dropped considerable and encouraged more members of Victorian society to send cards.
By the 1880s, lithograph firm, Prang and Mayer were reportedly producing over five million cards per year for eager customers in Europe and America.
This unusual greetings card shows a young boy with wings being pulled on an egg-shaped cart by a rooster as he plays a trumpet for a woman who looks out of a window cracked into a gigantic egg
Happy Easter! This German greetings card from 1910 shows a murderous chick standing over a cluster of eggs blasting a rifle at a frightened rabbit in this odd Easter illustration
A frightening rooster with human hands and dressed like a woman holds a basket full of eggs as it appears to terrify a bunny who runs away in this card wishing, ‘A Joyous Easter’ from 1910 (left) and a menacing-looking rabbit with its two offspring appears from the top of this broken gigantic egg shell (right)
A quartet of rabbits frolic in the meadow wearing brightly coloured eggs in pink, yellow, red and turqoise as they flap their hands around in this photo from 1909
The concept of posting Christmas cards was embraced immediately by the public and it seemed only natural to people that they do the same for the next Christian festival which followed – Easter.
For a society that was so religious and genteel, a significant number of the Easter cards produced were morbid, eccentric and humorously cruel in tone.
Some historians have suggested that the Victorian and Edwardian fascination in physical oddities and the peculiarities of death fuelled the morbid portrayals on these cards.
An audience of rabbits dressed up in Edwardian adult and children’s clothes applaud as they watched three bunnies performing on stage in this card from 1909. One spins Easter eggs on sticks, while another juggles eggs while standing on an egg and another juggles three eggs on his feet
A gaggle of babes are seen sitting inside a giant egg after being revealed by a pair of bunnies who had opened the other half of the shell. One bunny holds a blank sign, presumably so that senders of the Easter card from 1900 could personalise it with their own message
A trio of little people dressed up as clowns appear to be in a spot of bother after one apparently ended up breaking headfirst into a huge Easter egg after his friend helped him to get up with a ladder, while another watches in this ‘Easter Greetings’ card from 1911
A rabbit dressed as a woman appears to be less than impressed by her companion trying to give her a smooch as they stand in a giant yellow egg wising ‘Easter Greetings’ in this card from the Edwardian era (left) and two rabbits smooch in a massive pink egg in this unusual Easter card from the early 20th century (right)
This was an age when post-mortem photography, touring ‘freak shows’ as well as paraphernalia from these shows were extremely popular.
Meanwhile others believe that these Easter cards were simply beloved by the Edwardians for their twisted and irreverent sense of humour.
Making scrapbooks was a common pastime for wealthy Edwardian children and women and they would often collate album full of unique and unusual images to share with others.