Sunday, February 19, 2017

Barney Tobey: George Washington Stopped Here

An old cliche is that every place George Washington ever stayed or ate or slept had a sign commemorating that momentous event. Cartoonist Barney Tobey takes a look at whether such historical markers have much practical significance to the ordinary visitor. His cartoon was published in Collier's circa July 1940 according to a notation on the art and was anthologized the following year in Collier's Collects Its Wits. It was listed at eBay for $129 but it has some obvious condition issues. A potential buyer offered $40 and the seller countered with $49, the sale price. Tobey's handwritten caption appears on the original under the mat along with production markings.

Enjoy Presidents' Day weekend!

"I don't care if Washington did stop here—this steak is tough."
Barney Tobey, original art, Collier's, c. July 1940
Collier's Collects Its Wits, 1941

"I don't care if Washington did stop here—this steak is tough."
Barney Tobey, framed original art, Collier's, c. July 1940
Collier's Collects Its Wits, 1941

Barney Tobey's signature

Note:  New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson (1929-2017) has passed away. Old Attempted Bloggery posts that mention him may be seen here.

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Barney Tobey
George Washington
Original Collier's Cartoon Art

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Edward Sorel: Presidential Portraits

Edward Sorel delivers the goods: caricatures of some Presidents who appear on American currency. That's a thoughtful George Washington from the one, Andrew Jackson from the twenty, and Abraham Lincoln from the five enjoying a jest with Washington. Happy Presidents' Day Weekend!

Edward Sorel, George Washington

Edward Sorel, Andrew Jackson

Edward Sorel, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln
Swann Galleries, January 22, 2015, Sale 2372, Lot 208
Hammer Price

Price with Buyer's Premium

Note:  New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson (1929-2017) has passed away. Old Attempted Bloggery posts that mention him may be seen here.

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Edward Sorel
George Washington
Abraham Lincoln

Friday, February 17, 2017

Richard Merkin: The New Yorker's 1993 Anniversary

The New Yorker's 1993 anniversary party was held on February 18th at the Manhattan Center on West 43rd St. Art for the invitation was commissioned from Richard Merkin, who imagined it as a festive 1920's affair. Merkin's original art showed up on eBay in 2015 and sold for a proverbial Tin Pan Alley song. As an aside, the eBay seller's name is not what they teach you in marketing school.

Richard Merkin, original art, The New Yorker 1993 anniversary party invitation

Richard Merkin's signature

Richard Merkin's signature

Richard Merkin's initials

EBay Listing Ended June 23, 2015

eBay Item Description

eBay Bid History
Two last-minute bids fail to win it.

Note:  Thanks to cartoonist, blogger, and Peter Arno biographer Michael Maslin for having the presence of mind to preserve his copy of the invitation to the 1993 anniversary party in his archive.

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Richard Merkin
The New Yorker


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The New Yorker Prospectus

THE NEW YORKER will be a reflection in word and picture of metropolitan life. It will be human. Its general tenor will be one of gaiety, wit and satire, but it will be more than a jester. It will be not what is commonly called sophisticated, in that it will assume a reasonable degree of enlightenment on the part of its readers. It will hate bunk.

So opens Harold Ross's 1924 prospectus for The New Yorker, which was to first hit newsstands this week in 1925. Note that Rea Irvin's famous magazine logo was already finalized and Irvin is listed among the fledgling magazine's ten advisory editors. The prospectus is most famous, though, for its concluding paragraph;

THE NEW YORKER will be the magazine which is not edited for the old lady in Dubuque. It will not be concerned in what she is thinking about. This is not meant in disrespect, but THE NEW YORKER is a magazine avowedly published for a metropolitan audience and thereby will escape an influence which hampers most national publications. It expects a considerable national circulation, but this will come from persons who have a metropolitan interest.

Would you invest in the New Yorker in 1924? Or might you be dissuaded by that talk of the old lady in Dubuque? Today, would you invest in a nice copy of the 1924 prospectus? One in very good condition was sold last year on eBay:

eBay Listing ended March 4, 2016

eBay Item Description

eBay Bid History
Two fairly lackluster bids

More readable scans of the prospectus are published on Magazine History:  A Collector's Blog.

Note:  You're in luck! You now have enough information to spot the inside joke on my Twitter profile.

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Harold Ross
Rea Irvin
The Old Lady in Dubuque


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Blog Post No. 2100: Eustace Tilley in Leotards

It's ninety-two years ago this week that Eustace Tilley made his debut on the newsstand. As yet unnamed, Rea Irvin's cover creation must have either delighted or confounded readers who encountered this hopelessly outdated dandy superciliously regarding a butterfly through his monocle. What an unlikely mascot for Harold Ross's brand new magazine reveling in the jazz age and the Prohibition Era! And what incredible staying power he's had! Until very recent times, Eustace Tilley made a return engagement on the cover of each anniversary issue.

Rea Irvin, The New Yorker, February 21, 1925

It was fifteen years into this run that Eustace Tilley appeared onstage in a ballet entitled not too surprisingly "The New Yorker." George Zoritch danced the role of Tilley with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Rea Irvin himself, evidently a man of many talents, wrote the libretto in collaboration with choreographer Léonide Massine. Scenes and characters were based on the cartoons of Peter Arno, Helen E. Hokinson, Otto Soglow, William Steig, and others including James Thurber. Performed to the music of George Gershwin, it was an odd amalgam of Russian and American sensibilities. The production received poor reviews, prompting ongoing revisions. Massine elaborated the character of Peter Arno's Timid Man. The production continued through at least 1942, but was eventually dropped from the repertoire. The Museum of the City of New York retains in its permanent collection a painting by Marc Perper of Zoritch in his Eustace Tilley costume.

Marc Perper, George Zorich, 1940

Maurice Seymour, Massine as Peter Arno's Timid Man

A program from 1942, two years after the premiere when "The New Yorker" headed a three-act program that included "Sheherazade" and "Gaite Parisienne."

The New Yorker magazine noted the opening of "The New Yorker" ballet with absolutely no fanfare:

There exists a nine-minute video segment related to this production in the collection of the New York Public Library.

Note:  I am sure there exist many studio photos of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo's production of "The New Yorker." In addition, the company kept videos and other notes of their productions in order to be able to restage them at future dates. I would be grateful for any production-related photos, stage designs, or recordings to add to this post. If anyone would care to access the video in the New York Public Library, I'd love to hear your assessment.

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