Greetings From the Land of the Make-Believe Species
Postcards provided proof of lake serpents, jackalopes and assorted curious monsters
- By Peter A. Smith
- Smithsonian.com, March 29, 2012
The postcard once provided a fast, reliable means of communication. The images on the cards carried strong implications of objectivity, underscored by concise captioning. Among these postcards emerges a unique flowering of the beastly taxonomic tree: dozens of distinctive, little-known species spotted by solitary farmers, hunters and fishermen, lurking all across the country, creatures that came alive through hyperbole, exaggeration and the perceived authenticity of postcards.
(Courtesy of Loren Coleman, International Cryptozoology Museum)
Sometime during the 1930s (the exact date remains disputed), an animal with the body of a jackrabbit and the antlers of a deer appeared in Douglas, Wyoming. By no great coincidence, the crossbreed emerged from the home of rogue taxidermists and brothers Ralph and Douglas Herrick. Images and souvenirs of the jackalope, like this 1957 postcard, remain a totem of the West—a symbol of human ingenuity and, you might say, hybrid vigor.