Sunday, March 31, 2019

Claude Smith: Are You an April Fool Victim?

A 1942 magazine advertisement illustrated by cartoonist Claude Smith cautions against being an April Fool victim every day of the year. Sponsored by America's Independent Electric Light and Power Companies (names available "on request from this magazine"), it warns that federal subsidies of electrical power are being paid for by you the consumer. That's like being tricked by an exploding cigar every day of the year. Gosh!

Note:  Readers who know when in 1942 and more to the point where this ad was published should come forward and divulge their information. Maybe then we can finally find out from the magazine just what utilities make up America's Independent Electric Light and Power Companies.

Advertising art by Claude Smith, who signs his name Claude, is fairly uncommon in my experience. Advertisers often prefer the big names. Still, I often conjecture, if there's one such ad there certainly could be many. Connoisseurs of humorous advertising and other paper hoarders are asked to send scans of vintage Claude ads for inclusion in future blog posts. Original Claude art and obscure published cartoons would be welcome here as well. Please do not send exploding cigars through the mail.

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Claude Smith


April Fools!

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

National Doctors' Day 2019: Ronald Searle

Every year on March 30 we celebrate National Doctors' Day. While managing the many maladies that afflict their patients, doctors have always strived to keep up with the latest technology. British illustrator Ronald Searle, for one, understood this. In 1969 he inscribed a copy of Take One Toad (1968), described as "A Book of Ancient Remedies," to Midge and John Locke, his North American agent. He added a detailed ink and watercolor drawing showing the aftermath of what I take to be an 18th century tooth extraction utilizing elaborate toothed forceps and noting, "Positively no home should be without one." Who can argue with progress?

Drawing of a dental extraction
inscribed "For Midge & John [Locke]
with love       
                 New York
                        February 1969
And appended
"Positively no home
should be without
in Take One Toad (1968)
Bookseller image, Farshaw's Fine Old Books & Vintage Toys
Priced at $2,000 in 2007

Note:  Need I say it? If you, Kind Reader, have access to a cartoon art book containing an original drawing of this quality, whether by Ronald Searle or by another superb artist, either with or without the depiction of a historical medical procedure, please submit an image to me for probable inclusion here in a future blog post.

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Ronald Searle


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Friday, March 29, 2019

James Thurber: Clover Scarf

A silk scarf featuring the dogs of James Thurber in various poses and attitudes was sold on eBay in December of 2018. For discussion purposes we can refer to this design as the Clover scarf for its distinctive three-leaf clovers positioned along the borders and scattered across the material, but in all other respects it is nothing less than a celebration of Thurber's dogs. The scarf is printed in white on a black background, but most likely it comes in other color combinations too. A number of Thurber's delightful drawings seem to have been adapted for use on this scarf. The result is quite handsome. Last year the eBay opening bid for this item was a healthy $100, and that's precisely what it sold for.

James Thurber
eBay Listing Ended December 14, 2018

James Thurber
eBay Item Description

James Thurber
eBay Bid History
One bid does the trick.

Note:  This scarf design appears to be from the same house behind the vintage James Thurber scarf that appeared in yesterday's post. As before, I'm eager to hear from anyone with information about it. Are its origins with the Thurber House in Columbus? Is the designer known to anyone? When was it manufactured? What was the original price? In what various color combinations did it come? How many distinct Thurber scarves were in the series? To round out our knowledge of these items, relevant photographs of other Thurber scarves would be greatly appreciated.

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James Thurber



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Thursday, March 28, 2019

James Thurber: Lawn Scarf

The design of a scarf featuring various charming figures by James Thurber—men, women, dogs...and rabbits—takes drawings apparently created for other purposes and arranges them in a plain geometric pattern. They are unified on a stylized lawn with a simple border of grass and flowers, additional flowers being spread across the field of the scarf. The date and the designer are unclear. The scarf is printed in black on chartreuse but there is another version in black on white, and it very likely exists in other colors as well.

James Thurber
eBay Listing as Archived on Worthpoint
Retrieved February 17, 2019
Detail of scarf in the black on white version

January 10, 2020 Update:  Another scarf sold on eBay bears the tag of Richard A. Farrar, confirming the designer.

With a tag of designer Richard A. Farrar

James Thurber Scarf
eBay listing ended October 18, 2020

James Thurber Scarf
eBay item description

James Thurber Scarf
eBay bid history
Purchased for a best offer of $28.

Best offer of $28 accepted

  I'm eager to hear from anyone with further information about this scarf design containing images by James Thurber. When was it released? What did it originally cost? Worthpoint subscribers: when was it sold on eBay and for how much? Just how many color combinations are there?

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James Thurber



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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #16

Is it an office tussle or merely the Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #16? The drawing is by Charles Barsotti. 

"Owens, I say we close up shop early today. What do you say?"
"The Carruthers deal fell through."
"What do you say we go shopping for a new desk?"
"For God's sake, Henderson! Show some initiative."
"Is this my office or your office?
"I forgot my password."
"Quick, call Legal."
"Higgins, clear my schedule. And yours."

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

My Copy of Menasseh ben Israel by Steven Nadler

Years after reading his book Rembrandt's Jews (2003), I finally got to meet Dr. Steven Nadler and hear the professor of philosophy discuss his new biography Menasseh ben Israel: Rabbi of Amsterdam (2018). Dr. Nadler, an expert on the Jewish community of 17th century Amsterdam, signed and inscribed my copy of his most recent book.

Menasseh ben Israel and Baruch Spinoza, Jews of 17th century Amsterdam
Google N-Gram

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Steven Nadler

Signed Books

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Monday, March 25, 2019

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #655

Don't bother to analyze my entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #655 for March 25, 2019. The drawing is by Frank Cotham.

"Fortunately, our time is up."

This one showed no insight:
"You haven't finished your ballad."

April 1, 2019 Update:  The Finalists

April 8, 2019 Update:  I voted with San Diego.

April 15, 2019 Update:  The Winner

Note:  Last week cartoonist Mick Stevens gave us a debate about globalism. My caption was tongue-tied. Who made the best argument in Contest #654?


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Tiffany Lamps at the New-York Historical Society

I was overwhelmed by the New-York Historical Society's new gallery space for its matchless collection of Tiffany Studios lamps. These lamps are objects of breathtaking beauty. I took many photos, all the time aware of the inadequacy of my efforts. These pieces need to be seen and experienced in person.

Pond Lily Shade with Blown Glass in Metal Base