Thursday, January 3, 2013

Object of the Day: A Card for Arbuckle Brothers Coffee

Click image to join the harem.

In the second half of the Nineteenth Century, in addition to the growing appreciation for “oriental” arts and motifs came an interest in exotic “Arabian” themes. Such themes conjured thoughts of a freedom and, frankly, sensuousness unknown to your average European or American. Harems, dust-swept landscapes, silks, camels and lush palms all seemed to be unimaginable to most.

“Arabia” also brought ideas of coffee, and, so, it seemed a natural choice to the Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Company of New York City to include a stereotypically “Arab” scene in their series of fifty collectible cards which depicted “a pictorial history of the Sports and Pastimes of all nations.”

After regaling us with tales of coffee greatness, we get a rather one-sided account of life in Arabia, but, it matched the front of the card perfectly.

The card’s obverse shows a painting of an Arab scene commissioned by the Arbuckle Brothers’ coffee concern. Men on camels frame a scene of a “harem” of languid girls braiding their hair behind an unnaturally large bird.

Where I’d usually type out the reverse copy for you, this one’s clear enough that you can read it unassisted. Let’s see what we can learn, in the name of coffee.

Click to read.

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