Saturday, June 6, 2020

eBay 101: Bernard Schoenbaum's Workout

What's wrong with this picture? The award for poorest photography of original New Yorker art ever presented on eBay goes to...
Bernard Schoenbaum
Original art
The New Yorker, February 9, 1987, page 42

Which do you see more clearly, the reflection or the artist's signature? Say, is that the photographer's finger?
Bernard Schoenbaum's signature

Seriously, can you make out the gag here?
Bernard Schoenbaum
Original art
The New Yorker, February 9, 1987, page 42






Bernard Schoenbaum
Original art
The New Yorker, February 9, 1987, page 42

The copyright notice is dated 1981. The drawing was held in the bank for some six years and eventually published in 1987. The eBay seller's conclusion is that this "May have [been] a study for magazine art?" Why a study?
Copyright notice


Ultimately the seller gets what the seller deserves: just $50 for matted and framed original New Yorker art. This whole process is a disservice to what is probably quite a handsome New Yorker original.
Bernard Schoenbaum
eBay Listing Ended February 2, 2014


Bernard Schoenbaum
eBay Item Description

No Q&A



Here's the published gag, for those who want to see what it actually looks like:

Bernard Schoenbaum
Original art
The New Yorker, February 9, 1987, page 42

Cartoons by Bernard Schoenbaum and Henry Martin
https://archives.newyorker.com/newyorker/1987-02-09/flipbook/042/


Note:  Well, I hope that's as bad as the photography gets on eBay. Attempted Bloggery seeks clear, crisp photos of original New Yorker cartoon art by Bernard Schoenbaum and others.



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Friday, June 5, 2020

I. Klein: The Triumph of the Melting Pot

An original drawing by I. Klein of many men (and one woman) sporting straw hats was offered recently on eBay where it sold with a best offer. The art has a notation saying it "must go June 5," which suggests when, but not where, it may have been published. The Triumph of the Melting Pot is, we learn, the universal acceptance of fashionable straw hats by the divers ethnicities and races that populate 1920s New York (a Broadway street sign is clearly visible). Most disturbing, at least to modern sensibilities, is the caricature of the black couple that is the unfortunate focus of this gag. Could this racist stereotype possibly be from a New Yorker cartoon?

It could be and it is: it appeared in the issue of June 5, 1926, during the magazine's second year. Such images, regrettably, were common in the New Yorker of the 1920s and they persisted in the mainstream print media to at least as late as the 1950s. Their ubiquity in the culture, of course, does not in any way excuse them. It's important to remember that this image and others like it shaped the attitudes of a generation towards race. Were there objections? Maybe, but the artists, editors, and advertisers who were in a position to act seem to have been silent.
The Triumph of the Melting Pot
I. Klein
The New Yorker, June 5, 1926, page 28

The figure at the lower right wears a beard that identifies him as a member of the Orthodox Jewish community. Why does he wear not one but three straw hats? Is he hawking them?
I. Klein's signature
Klein uses no half-tones, just a complex interplay of light and dark. Also, we see the 1926 prices of different straw hats when an issue of the New Yorker cost fifteen cents.
Detail with signage

Caption
The sea of straw hats is really quite a tour de force. The man catching the straw hat is all in white, making him stand out. (Another black man is behind him.) The arc from the hat through the man's raised arm and his body serves to direct the eye to the racial caricature of the man raising his hat.
Catch this!

"Must go June 5"
  
Verso

I. Klein
eBay Listing Ended April 4, 2020


I. Klein
eBay Item Description




The Triumph of the Melting Pot
I. Klein
The New Yorker, June 5, 1926, page 28
Cartoons by I. Klein and Barbara Shermund
https://archives.newyorker.com/newyorker/1926-06-05/flipbook/028/



Note:  This very cartoon was discussed in 2016 on the blog A New Yorker State of Mind here.



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Thursday, June 4, 2020

I. Klein: Heavenly Hope for Sale

You never know who will show up at the office, hat in hand—and you never know what will show up on eBay. I. Klein's original cartoon art, recently sold at the auction site, is a study in contrasts: darks and lights, young and old, middle class and poor, hope and despair, commerce and religion, educated professionals and one still working at it. The eBay seller, noting the words "New Yorker" written on the back, is careful not to overstate the case for it being a published cartoon from that magazine. But the case is made anyway by the letter R at the top right of the image, signifying New Yorker editor Harold Ross's approval. Even better, the cartoon dates from 1925, the New Yorker's tumultuous first year.
"Will you buy a copy, Mum, it will help me work my way thru college, Mum."
I. Klein
Original art
The New Yorker, October 10, 1925, page 14
Published as "Will you buy a copy, Mum? It will help me work my way through college."

Klein's signature is drawn, almost constructed, rather than signed.

I. Klein's signature
The details are incredible. The sheet in the typewriter bears the letterhead of James J. Jam, possibly with the title General Editor, or maybe not. The letter is dated "New York June '25," which may be when Klein intended the cartoon to be published. (It ran in October.) The letter is addressed to Mr. James Smith of Burbank Ave. in Newark, N.J., another James, less imaginatively named, and paired with a fictitious address. The keyboard is not quite QWERTY—only the A and the Z are close to where they belong—and is not big enough anyway to hold all the letters of the alphabet.
Detail of typewriter

The salesman appears disheveled and defeated. His clothing is tatty. There is some levity, though, in the magazine cover.
Detail of salesman
The secretaries, on the other hand, have fashionable hairstyles and clothing well-suited to the modern office of 1925.
Detail
The handwritten caption is a run-on sentence which doesn't gain anything from the repetition of "Mum." Yet it didn't take much work to fix it.
Caption
Some notations can be trusted. This is from the "New Yorker" indeed. Klein has included his address.
Verso

I. Klein
eBay Listing Ended March 30, 2020


I. Klein
eBay Item Description



"Will you buy a copy, Mum, it will help me work my way thru college, Mum."
I. Klein
Original art
The New Yorker, October 10, 1925, page 14
Published as "Will you buy a copy, Mum? It will help me work my way through college."
https://archives.newyorker.com/newyorker/1925-10-10/flipbook/014/

I. Klein's Lower East Side home (or studio) at 169 E. Broadway still stands today. Apartments are above the 169 Bar which was known during Prohibition as the "Bloody Bucket."
169 E. Broadway today



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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #77

Three entries are permitted in the Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #77. Mine are shown below. The drawing is by Bob Eckstein.
"Have I got a part for you!"
"Elvis is taken. Why don't you go by your father's name?"
"The doctor may have built you but I made you."



These captions weren't properly put together:
"The Times called your performance electrifying."
"I made you and I can unmake you."
"I booked you a villa. There are no castles.""
What sort of part are you looking for?"
"Don't they have summer wear in Transylvania?"
"I think you can use some time to recharge."
"Don't go getting a swelled head now."



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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Richard Taylor in College Humor, March 1938

Cartoonist Richard Taylor's New Yorker work will be familiar to many readers here. To date I have found only one cartoon of his in the pages of College Humor. If he published further work in that magazine, as he very likely did, I think it's safe to surmise on the basis of the single cartoon from the March 1938 issue that it was a degree or two less sophisticated than his work for the New Yorker.
"Well, Miss Wilson, this is a pleasant surprise!"
Richard Taylor
College Humor, Vol. 9, No. 3, March 1939, page 9




Note:  The March 1939 number of College Humor is one of more than 5,600 magazines at last count residing in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection at Columbia University. I accessed a very small part of the full collection at the Butler Library's Rare Book and Manuscript Library on March 10, 2016 and I've been going to town with it ever since. Back then the Butler Library was open to the general public during certain hours but for the time being, of course, it is closed altogether. When it does reopen, Curator for Comics and Cartoons Karen Green will be the person who can get you in.


In the meantime, Attempted Bloggery is eager to receive scans or photographs of original art by Richard Taylor as well as obscure published cartoons, illustrations, and the like. More of his work from College Humor would be especially welcome.


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Monday, June 1, 2020

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #712

Signed on the dotted line before it's too late and then peruse my entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #712 for June 1, 2020. The drawing is by Mick Stevens.
"You are now fully covered. May I ask what sold you on our insurance plan?"



These captions were disastrous:
"I feel sure this partnership will never crater."
"Oswald! When did you become such a doomsayer?"
"Expect your career to have a meteoric rise."
"Trust me, there's nothing bigger than you on the horizon."



Note:
  In last week's Caption Contest, cartoonist John Klossner took us in to the ballgame. My caption struck out. Recall the excitement of baseball with Contest #711.


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