Saturday, January 5, 2013

Object of the Day: Queens Victoria and Mary of Scots

This is a rather curious advertisement. Copyrighted to 1901, this bi-fold chromolithograph depicts Queen Victoria on one side and Mary, Queen of Scots on the other. The folded page opens to reveal historical accounts of each.

Yet, there’s no evident advertisement for a product. Queen Victoria isn’t holding a box of Scrofula tonic. Mary of Scots isn’t standing on a crate of cooked canned corned beef. So, what’s going on here? 

The publishers expected you to read! A novel concept today, but, one that was not out of the question in 1901.

At the very end of it all, we see the following:

     The makers of famous “Queen Quality” shoes have decided to issue a series of portraits of the world’s most famous queens, handsomely lithographed in colors, faithfully reproduced from costly paintings. No effort or expense will be spared to make these undoubtedly the most artistic and valuable portraits of royalty ever issued. 
     The series will have great historical value, and on this account, as well as for their inherent beauty and intrinsic artistic worth, the pictures should be retained carefully by those receiving them, as we propose to issue in each of our subsequent catalogues the portraits of other royal women, as full of interest and as valuable as works of art as these presented with here. 

Well, well, ain’t we lucky? So, you see, this is an insert from the “Queen Quality” shoe catalog of 1901, meant as an incentive to buy and also to make the shoes look peachy keen and fancy. Someone obviously thought enough of this insert to carefully remove it, owing to its preservation for 112 years. I’m quite glad they did as it gave the pages a chance to come here to the house where ephemera comes to live.

In typical Victorian/Edwardian fashion, the copy is overwritten and the product is oversold. While these are nicely printed and attractively glossy, I don’t think Neal Caffrey is going to be trying to steal them anytime soon. But, it’s just that very florid nature which makes me love them all the more.

Click to enlarge.

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