Humphrey Carpenter in his 1977 biography relates that Tolkien owned a postcard entitled Der Berggeist (German: "the mountain spirit"), and on the paper cover in which he kept it, he wrote "the origin of Gandalf". The postcard reproduces a painting of a bearded figure, sitting on a rock under a pine tree in a mountainous setting. He wears a wide-brimmed round hat and a long red cloak, and a white fawn is nuzzling his upturned hands.
Carpenter said that Tolkien recalled buying the postcard during his holiday in Switzerland in 1911. Manfred Zimmerman, however, discovered that the painting was by German artist Josef Madlener and dates to the mid–1920s. Carpenter acknowledged that Tolkien was probably mistaken about the origin of the postcard.