Friday, February 22, 2019

Peter Arno: A Suspended Search

Back in the 1980s, if you were shopping for original Charles Addams New Yorker cartoons, you could expect much of his work to fall into a standard price range. If you wanted an Addams Family drawing, though, you would have to pay a steep premium. If you were willing to take a cartoon about a tribe of African cannibals drawn in questionable taste, you could get a real discount.

Next week the British auction market will test the salability of an original work by Peter Arno published in The New Yorker in the summer of 1941 which includes a pair of shockingly insensitive caricatures of native Africans. Arno is one of the best cartoonists ever, but the conventions of racial caricature that were deemed acceptable, apparently, in the 1940s are quite rightly anathema today. Arno himself had no qualms about collecting this cartoon as late as 1957 in The Penguin Peter Arno.

Bidding for the framed original art starts at 480 GBP ($625) with a presale auction estimate of 600-800 GBP ($780-$1045). Will such an image find a buyer today?

Peter Arno
"Pardon me. Have you seen any condor eggs?"
Framed original art
The New Yorker, July 26, 1941, page 17
Peter Arno's Man in the Shower, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944
The Penguin Peter Arno, 1957
The caption written on the matte in calligraphy

Peter Arno's signature

Langton Gallery exhibition label

Back of frame with Langton Gallery label


Peter Arno
"Pardon me. Have you seen any condor eggs?"
Original art
The New Yorker, July 26, 1941, page 17
Peter Arno's Man in the Shower, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944
The Penguin Peter Arno, 1957

Peter Arno
John Nicholsons Fine Art Auctioneer & Valuer
February 27, 2019, Haslemere, UK
Lot 137



Peter Arno
"Pardon me. Have you seen any condor eggs?"
Framed original art
The New Yorker, July 26, 1941, page 17
Peter Arno's Man in the Shower, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944
The Penguin Peter Arno, 1957

https://archives.newyorker.com/?i=1941-07-26#folio=016




Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:


Peter Arno

Original New Yorker Cartoon Art

Racism in Cartoons

Attempted Bloggery's Suspended Index


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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Peter Arno: No Offense?

Racial caricatures of Africans and others were common in mainstream American publications up until at least the 1950s and likely beyond. A left-leaning magazine such as The New Yorker was no exception. Peter Arno was the most popular New Yorker cartoonist of his day, and like many others he created images meant to be humorous that today redound as deeply offensive. 

A 1942 ad featuring two African tribesmen marveling over the potential use of an inverted Stetson hat is meant to appeal to and amuse an upscale and sophisticated readership in the pages of The New Yorker. It isn't hidden away in the back of the magazine; it's right there on page one where everyone can see it immediately. No advertiser could expect to sell a hat or any other product by offending potential customers. Racial and, let's face it, racist caricature would have to be broadly accepted by the culture for it to be used as a major element of such an advertising campaign. It would seem there wasn't a word of protest to be had from the artist, the magazine's editorial staff, the advertiser, its ad agency, and—so far as one can tell—the readers.
"A Stetson...a gentleman...a specially fine stew!"
Peter Arno

Stetson Hats advertisement
The New Yorker, January 24, 1942, page 1


https://archives.newyorker.com/?i=1942-01-24#folio=CV2



Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Peter Arno

Advertising

Hats

Cannibals and Missionaries

Racism in Cartoons

Attempted Bloggery's Bare-Headed Index


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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #11,

Let's do a walk-through of the Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #11. The drawing is by Charlie Hankin. My entries follow.

"I've finally found something in your price range."
"It's a bit of a hole-in-the-wall."
"You said you wanted rustic."

"What are your feelings about grizzlies?"
"Prepare yourself. It's a bit of a fixer-upper."




Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:


Charlie Hankin

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Otto Soglow's Harem Scarf

Otto Soglow's most popular creation by far is the Little King, so one can understand the eagerness of the Etsy seller who listed Soglow's harem-themed scarf to identify the sultan as "The Little King in a turban." Clearly he isn't the Little King. Soglow very deliberately kept his syndicated  comic strip character out of the two scarf designs he created for Richard Farrar. This particular design is best viewed as a diamond with the sultan's turban toward the apex. Just tilt your screen.
Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
In orange and brown plus black and white


Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
Top corner with O. Soglow's printed signature

Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
Top corner, draped


Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
Left corner
This particular scarf is disturbing to modern sensibilities on perhaps several levels, all originally meant to be amusing. There is the stereotypical depiction of the sultan with his hookah, of course, and the happily-enslaved women. Most troubling is the racial caricature of the two servants.
Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
The sultan


The sale price of the orange and brown scarf is not recorded. The seller writes, "Quirky Art Deco silk scarf is really a vinage [sic] New Yorker cartoon, The Little King…" Out of all that, the words quirky, silk, and scarf are 100% correct.
Otto Soglow
Etsy Listing Sold October 13, 2018


Otto Soglow
Etsy Item Description
"…The Little King in his turban…"





There are also four photos of this scarf in the same orange and brown color scheme from an eBay sale archived on Worthpoint:

Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
In orange and brown plus black and white









Another Etsy seller offered a version of this scarf in dark gray and red, plus black and white. The seller dated this scarf incorrectly to the 1930s.
Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
In dark gray and red plus black and white


Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
Detail of sultan and servants
Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
Inverted orientation

O. Soglow's printed signature

Otto Soglow
Etsy Listing Sold February 1, 2014

Otto Soglow
Pinterest pin records the $109 Etsy sale price


An eBay sale archived on Worthpoint shows the inversion of the red and dark gray.
Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
In red and dark gray plus black and white



A third Etsy seller offers yet another color combination. This seller also dates the scarf to  the 1930s. It is more likely from the 1940s to 1950s. The scarf was offered at $80. The seller currently has no items for sale.
Otto Soglow
Harem scarf design for Richard Farrar
The sultan and his servants
In red and turquoise plus black, white, and light gray





Note:
  
A big thank you to Addams aficionado Joel Jacobus for first alerting me to the existence of the two Soglow scarf designs featured on the blog these past two days. There are, no doubt, other color combinations of these as well of the other Richard Farrar scarves designed by New Yorker artists. Readers who come across these rarities in bottom drawers or at estate sales should photograph them and send them in for the sake of posterity. If there were an internet seventy years ago, all these scarves would have been immortalized from day one, but there wasn't so it's up to us to play catchup.

The one Richard Farrar scarf in the series we have yet to find a single example of is the one by the great Helen E. Hokinson. Scour the countryside, readers!

But enough about scarves. Original art by Otto Soglow is always welcome here on the old blog. Rare published cartoons are also sought after.



Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Otto Soglow

Richard Farrar Scarves

Women's Fashion

The Harem Girls of E. Simms Campbell

Racism in Cartoons

Attempted Bloggery's Index of 1,001 Nights


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Monday, February 18, 2019

Otto Soglow's Circus Scarf

Our digital lifeline to Otto Soglow's circus-themed scarf is somewhat tenuous. An example of it was listed on eBay some time ago where it was dated, certainly incorrectly, to the 1930s. A lone Pinterest user, Sue Otto, saved a single low-resolution image. And that's all we have to go on today.

Very well. Designed for Richard Farrar in the 1940s or '50s, Soglow's scarf gives us a lively three ring circus without a single focal point. The example on Pinterest is in red and green plus black and white. It seems an odd call that the scarf-buying public would want a sword-swallower included in the design, but that's Soglow for you.

This is likely the primary orientation:
Otto Soglow
Circus scarf design for Richard Farrar


This is the orientation seen on Pinterest:

Otto Soglow
Circus scarf design for Richard Farrar
Elephant orientation
Otto Soglow
Circus scarf design for Richard Farrar
Sea lion orientation
Otto Soglow
Circus scarf design for Richard Farrar
Lion tamer orientation


February 19, 2019 Update:  Another eBay sale archived on Worthpoint demonstrates another color scheme: red and light gray plus black and white. There are also some nice photos of details from the scarf.
Otto Soglow
Circus scarf design for Richard Farrar
Elephant orientation



O. Soglow signature  and Circus title

Detail with three elephants

Detail of clown corner

Otto Soglow
eBay Listing Archived on Worthpoint




Note:  The red and green scarf is certainly worthy of higher resolution photography. It most likely exists in a variety of other colors which should be documented for posterity. If you've got one of these circus scarves in your wardrobe, why not snap a photo or two and send it this way?

My thanks to Joel Jacobus, the maestro of Charles Addams memorabilia, who alerted me to the existence of this scarf. 

Original art by Otto Soglow occasionally appears on this blog, but I'd happily make room for more of it. Rare cartoons that have not already made it onto the internet would be welcome as well. And scarves. Don't forget those scarves.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Otto Soglow

Richard Farrar Scarves

Women's Fashion

The Circus

Presidents' Day

Attempted Bloggery's Greatest Index on Earth!


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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Charles Addams: Under the Mistletoe

Perhaps it's worth relating something of the haphazard process by which things come to be published on this blog. Joel Jacobus, who told us all about a rarely-seen Addams Family scarf in yesterday's post, originally contacted me last year after I posted images of another scarf designed by New Yorker cartoonist Anatol Kovarsky. While Joel was searching about for the Addams scarf he came upon another item of interest to fans of Charles Addams. I'd better let him relate the story:

I've also randomly included a photo of [a] Christmas sketch by Addams from 1971 (which was next to the scarf when I finally uncovered it in the closet). I don't know who "Greta & Bob" are but he didn't tend to draw himself (and Alice B. Curr) unless it was for friends so I assume it was someone he knew. 

Joel has owned this sketch for more than ten years.

The sketch was being sold by a book dealer on the Advanced Book Exchange who had no info about it.

Here's the drawing:

Inscribed "Merry Christmas to Greta & Bob
Chas Addams
              1971"
with a sketch of Addams (with mistletoe) and Alice B. Curr

From the collection of Joel Jacobus


It's tempting to speculate who Greta and Bob (Bobs?) may have been. Addams traveled in rather exclusive circles and he even had dated Greta Garbo. But if the reclusive actress is the Greta of the inscription, then who is Bob? A pet? Perhaps he knew Greta and Robert H. N. Ho, who were noted philanthropists. They even share a remote Colgate University connection with Addams, although Addams was only there for a year and there was more than a two decade age difference between Charles Addams '33 and Robert H. N. Ho '56.


Note:  My thanks to Joel Jacobus for his first-rate contribution to today's post, easily his best effort since…well, yesterday's post. 

It would be gratifying to hear from anyone who can better identify the recipients of this drawing. In the absence of facts, speculation is welcome.

For more on Addams' dog Alice B. Curr—I assume the name is a nod to Alice B. Toklas—see the aterrier site.


Attempted Bloggery is a fine place to publish rare Charles Addams art and memorabilia from all over. Help the world to gain a renewed appreciation of Addams' genius. Help Joel compile his compendium of licensed Addamsiana. That's not really a word, is it?

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Addams Family Scarf

Charles Addams was one of several New Yorker cartoonists who designed vintage scarves for Richard Farrar. Addams collector Joel Jacobus has contributed three photographs of the full scarf (and one of a sketch which will appear here soon). He writes:
I don't know the date it was first available for sale, but I do know that it was pictured in an October 1951 issue of Quick Magazine and again in May 1953 issue of Look magazine. I also know that there was an Otto Soglow Farrar scarf and an Anatol Kovarsky Farrar Scarf produced at roughly the same time. I've heard that there was a Helen Hokinson Farrar scarf but I've never seen it.
The Addams scarf came in at least the following four color combinations (and possibly more):
  • gold & black & brown, 
  • blue & gold & white, 
  • red & black & gray & white, 
  • black & white.
Here then is the scarf in red, black, gray, and white:
Charles Addams
Scarf design for Richard Farrar
From the collection of Joel Jacobus

Charles Addams
Scarf design for Richard Farrar
From the collection of Joel Jacobus

Charles Addams
Scarf design for Richard Farrar
From the collection of Joel Jacobus



The black and white version of this scarf appeared in the October 1951 issue of Quick. Addams Family members were not given names prior to the premier of the television show in 1964. Therefore, the character we all know as Morticia is referred to simply as Addams' "witch lady" in the article.

Quick, October 1951
From the collection of Joel Jacobus
The October 1953 issue of Look includes an article on Addams. The photo of a picnic at the beach contains four Addams scarves and assorted "creepy crockery."
Look, May 1953
From the collection of Joel Jacobus


Joel goes on:

I suspect that the licensing deals involving several New Yorker artists, for several early 1950’s products, were made through the New Yorker because of the similarity between the basic designs, the manufacturers, and the time period.
I’ve seen Charles Addams, Helen Hokinson, & Richard Taylor plates, bowls, and ceramic ashtrays all made by Atlas China. I’ve seen sets of Charles Addams & Richard Taylor highball glasses made by an unknown maker. I’ve seen a Charles Addams scarf design & two Otto Soglow scarf designs all made by Farrar. They all came out at roughly the same time. It makes me wonder if there were also plates by Soglow, glasses by Hokinson, and scarves by Taylor that I just haven’t stumbled across yet. Taylor also licensed several sets of cheap metal ashtrays at roughly the same time but I think they were a side project that the others weren’t involved in.

I’ve had both the scarf and the Addams sketch for more than a decade. The scarf came from a seller on ebay who had TWO of them! A gold Addams scarf and a red Addams scarf. I would have tried to win both if I could have figured out how to rob the local bank, but happily the seller sent the wrong scarves to each winner so I got to see the gold one in person before sending it back in exchange for the red one.
Foolishly, I didn't take any photos of the gold scarf. Still kicking myself.

* * *

Just when I thought this was the only version of the Addams scarf online, I found these photos of the black and white variant posted on Collectors Weekly by luvskitsch:
Charles Addams
Scarf design for Richard Farrar
Photo by luvskitsch

Gomez corner detail
Charles Addams

Lurch corner detail
Charles Addams
Scarf Design for Richard Farrar

Photo by luvskitsch


Chas Addams' printed signature
Charles Addams
Scarf design for Richard Farrar

Photo by luvskitsch





Note:   Fashionable readers stylish enough to wear cartoon accessories are invited to contribute photos of the gold Addams scarf, of the other color combinations, and indeed of the other vintage scarves designed by New Yorker cartoonists for Richard Farrar in any and all available color combinations. Vintage ads for these scarves, if they exist, would be of great interest. Further print documentation of these scarves, like those provided above, are, of course, eagerly sought here.

But it doesn't have to end there. Joel Jacobus, who kindly provided this blog with all the photos and detailed information found at the top of this post, has, as you can tell, a broad-ranging interest in Charles Addams memorabilia. He writes,"I'm trying to compile a collectors guide to Addams artwork and licensed products (I have over two thousand entries thanks to the various tv shows, movies, and musicals his artwork has been involved with)…" Let's help him out. Please submit images and info on any rare and intriguing Addams and Addams Family goods in your possession. Have you got "creepy crockery" at home. I would be happy to forward to Joel relevant photos and information on such items in private collections, or to post them here if appropriate, or both.

Joel's Addams sketch will appear here tomorrow.