Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bernard Wiseman's Plowing Incident

Ninety days after an eBay auction closes, the listing's photographs are removed permanently from the site in order to free up the servers for new items. For those of us who think at least some sales on the auction website are of enduring value, standing idly by while irreplaceable photos are routinely deleted is not a particularly agreeable pastime. If only one could preserve even a few expiring auction gems from this inexorable tide of obliteration, surely that would give anyone, even an uninspired blogger, a sense of accomplishment, albeit a rather limited one.

As a general rule, when I fail to record the details of an auction, I lose the entire thing forever. I lead a pretty busy life--or so I tell people--and this neglect of my blog's future needs occurs far more often than I care to admit. One particular eBay auction of a Bernard Wiseman cartoon is that very rare exception where I lost only part--well, actually most--of the auction. At the very instant I was downloading the unique photos from this auction listing for posterity, they were summarily being deleted. I ended up with only four full-size photos from the original listing, probably fewer than half the total, and I didn't even bother to collect the remaining thumbnails. Is this better than nothing? I hope so.

The week or so prior to August 8, 2013 was the one moment in history when this long-forgotten1960 cartoon was available for sale, coming directly out of the artist's estate after a half-century and shortly thereafter vanishing into a private collection for the slack price of $66 plus shipping. So that week or so, along with the three month lag time, was the sole opportunity for anyone other than the seller to copy the trove of information that was briefly made available. The original artwork is a minor piece of cultural ephemera, to be sure, but on such a trivial foundation is this blog constructed.

I should give the eBay seller some credit for his caption. I myself am no stranger to the unforgiving world of caption-writing, so I can appreciate the effort. It is perhaps odd that this seller with access to the cartoonist's own estate should be so completely in the dark as to the particulars of caption and publication date, but the available tools for remedying this must be unknown to him. On his own he came up with "Wait hold it, my car!" in the auction's title. The actual published caption was "Stop! That's my Fiat!" Lax punctuation aside, that's a darn good effort, and a good deal closer than any of my own Cartoon Caption Contest entries to hitting the mark.



Bernard Wiseman's signature


Bernard Wiseman, "Stop!  That's my Fiat!"
The New Yorker,
February 6, 1960, page 44

Bernard Wiseman, "Stop!  That's my Fiat!"
The New Yorker, 
February 6, 1960, page 44

Note:  I can't be the only one who preserves the occasional eBay auction before it vanishes off the face of the earth for all time. If you are of a similar compulsive bent and are sitting on a trove of glorious bygone auctions which you think might be right for Attempted Bloggery, please get in touch!

My blog entries on Bernard Wiseman, now five in number, are already some of the most informative on the web, and I don't even have anything to say.

How many blogs do you suppose feature original New Yorker cartoon art? The question is rhetorical. I myself have no idea.

Well, here we are in the All-Star break. To heighten your appreciation of the sport, don't miss Attempted Bloggery's unique archive of baseball posts.


No comments:

Post a Comment