The Missive Maven’s postcard of a Shanghai beauty hawking Hatamen cigarettes put me in mind that I have some similar postcards. This is one of a set of eight postcards featuring reproductions of posters by the Xie Xing Long advertising company, which flourished in the 1920s-1930s. Naturally, she gets the pretty girl; all of the cards in my set are on the same order as this one, showing a picture of the product, along with the name of the product in Chinese. Mine is set #2; there are at least 28 different sets of these postcards all made by the same company in Shanghai. Their trademark is pictured at right.
Being Chinese, the back of this postcard is in Chinese fashion, vertical, with the area for the address and stamp in the top half, and the message area in the bottom half. It’s also very large, measuring 120 x 180 mm (about 4-3/4 by 7-1/8 inches).
Thanks to an online Chinese character dictionary, I was able to verify that the Chinese text does in fact say “ha ta men” (read in Chinese from right to left) which, as near as I can tell, means something like “it is the sound of laughter through the gate.” It may also mean “the sound of her laughter through the gate,” which to me is a much more evocative phrase. I hope it’s the latter.