Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Object of the Day: A Reward of Merit

Click on image to tickle the jester.

How many of these were thrown away since 1880? It makes me sad to think that hundreds of these were likely discarded.

When I was in school, if I was given some “reward” for a job well done, I was presented with a pumpkin sticker or a gold star or some goofy, boring piece of paper with a scrolly border and “Certificate” written on it. I’d have much rather received something like this Nineteenth-Century “Reward of Merit” with its handsome chromolithograph. But, they weren’t handing out antique ephemera in the 1980s. If they had been, I’d even have tried tumbling in gym class.

The card simply says “Reward of Merit.” It was presented to one Jessie Alcorn from James G. White, teacher. I wonder what Jessie did so well. We’ll never know, but, obviously, it was an important enough achievement that Jessie and Jessie’s descendants saw fit to keep this handsome little certificate for well over a century (and then sell it). With its comic image of a jester, this certificate was likely purchased by the teacher as part of a package of other such cards. This one is marked at the bottom as being No. 2400. I’m sure the teacher has his choice of many different images. Here, we have a charming scene with a Punchinello-nosed bloke being tickled by a contortionist child. The jester playfully sticks out his tongue. I just love it!

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