Saturday, June 21, 2014

Object of the Day: Life and Coffee in a Shoe

Click image to be whipped soundly.

There was an old woman
     who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children
     she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth
     without any bread, 

She whipped them all soundly
     and put them to bed. 

Excellent parenting advice. It makes me think of the strength and purity of coffee, it does.

At first, I wasn’t sure if this card was die-cut or if it was cut by hand by a former owner who intended to use it for other purposes, likely decoupage. The latter was often the fate of these trade cards. In one way this preserved them forever under a nice layer of varnish, but, in another, it distances the item from its original form.

Either way, here we have an old lady who lived in her shoe. Living in a shoe, it seems, hasn’t kept her from procreating. Clearly, this card was once one of a collectible series produced by Lion Coffee. This was No. 8.

Now, you see, this is where the whole thing gets foggy. On the reverse, printed above the verse describing this elderly woman’s living conditions, we have a line drawing of the scene to the left of the image from the next scene in the series.  Or is it? And, then, at the very bottom are the mysterious words, “Bend Back Standards.”

What does that mean?

Was this part of a larger sheet which was designed to be cut and displayed in a child’s room? Were the publishers anticipating that these would be collected in order?

I couldn’t leave it alone. So, a little research tells me that this was, in fact, a die-cut card, one of a nursery rhyme series which also corresponds with a paper-doll series produced by Lion Coffee in the late Nineteenth Century.

But, there’s something missing. First of all, the lower portion of this card is now gone. This would have been bent and taped so that the “shoe” would stand up as a background. You’ll notice that the “old woman” is conspicuously absent from the shoe. That’s because she came later as a paper doll—also a standee. She was shown holding a large stick in one hand and a naughty child in the other and was drawn in mid-spank. Charming.  The second piece of this scene was a standee of the other, already-beaten, children in bed.

All-in-all, it’s a nifty advertising gimmick. Collectors of such things are quite keen to amass the complete sets which, it seems, are very difficult to come by. So, apparently, even a century later, the gimmick is still working. Well done, Lion Coffee.

No comments: