Monday, October 20, 2014

Publisher - Ernest Nister/E. P. Dutton

 My Sweetheart - A little boy may have a heart as big as any man. His love is more than tongue can tell or little arm can span.

3 3/4" x 3 1/2"
circa 1910s
marked: Ernest Nister, London
E P Dutton and Co, New York
Printed in Bavaria
No 3151

Ernest Nister was a late 19th century/early 20th century German printer  and publisher with offices in Germany, England* and in the USA. He began as a printer in Nuremberg in 1877 and had expanded to London by 1888. By 1889, his move to New York was underway. Nister produced a variety of printed items for sale to all three of those locales resulting in items in German meant for sale in Germany and items in English for either the British or American markets. A deal was struck with E P Dutton to be their exclusive agent for items exported to the USA.** This is why all of the items created for selling in the States bear the Dutton name along with Nister's. In addition to their valentines and other cards, collectors look for their games and especially their charming mechanical books. The company can be credited for several innovations in engineering moving books for which they held patents. Among their many ventures, Nister even produced posters for the London Transport.

My Valentine You're all the world to me ~ Tho' over all the earth you roam And wander far away, The path of love will lead you home, Wherever you may stray; So take it, dear, and you will see How soon 'twill bring you back to me!

3 1/4" x 3 1/4"
circa 1890s
marked: Ernest Nister, London
E P Dutton and Co, New York
Printed in Bavaria
No 895

Several well-known artists and authors (among these were Constance Wilde aka Mrs. Oscar Wilde, a writer and quite a personality herself who wore daring outfits challenging the acceptable fashions for women of her day) worked for Nister. There are just a few signed examples, however the vast majority do not bear the artist's name despite the stature of some of those artists. However, most if not all of the cards bear his publisher's mark. 

My Little Sweetheart My heart is whole; my fancy free; Are you inclined to mate with me?

8 3/4" x 5"
circa 1910s, 1920s
 Standing Flat
 by Ernest Nister/EP Dutton

marked:No. 1241
printed in Bavaria

The cards are high quality in design, printing, and in the papers utilized. Clever paper engineering can be seen in several of the cards, as might be expected from the innovator of such imaginative moving books. Items can be found dating from the late 1870s into the 1910s, although any items dating to the 1870s would be from the late part of that decade and any text would almost certainly be in German. The company was a going concern until sometime in 1917, lasting several years beyond the death of it's founder.

My Valentine - A Sweet Pair.

4 3/4" x 4 3/8"
circa 1880s, 1890s
Fold Open
marked: Ernest Nister, London
Printed in Bavaria
No 245

The pear, not the children's faces in the interior, appears on postcard No. 940. Nister often reused images or parts of images in different cards or in books.

Cupid's Minuet ~ I'll always love you, Valentine, If you will promise to be mine.

5 1/4" x 5 1/4"
Standing Fold Out
for Ernest Nister/E P Dutton

I think this is Brundage (but it could be by Harriet M. Bennett - the two artists' work is very similar - who also did quite a bit of illustrating for Nister)

This card, Cupid's Minuet, is mentioned as "one of the best of the offerings" in an article on the new season of valentines that focuses on Nister in Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer, Vol 20 pp 55-59 from January 15, 1904. Unfortunately the article doesn't mention the artist's name. 

To My Sweet  Valentine - Cherry Lips, Cherry Lips, will you be mine? I love you and want you for my valentine.

4 1/4" x 4 7/8"
circa 1900s, 1910s
Standing Card with 3-d detailing
Ernest Nister/E P Dutton

marked: No. 3072
I suspect this may be the work of Brundage. The same child with cherry earrings appears on other cards. 

*The offices in 1906 were at 24, 26 and 28 St Bride St, London as announced in British Market Vol 30 Issue 3, July 1906, p27
**The American Stationer, Volume 25, 1889, p1230.

Artists known to have been employed by Nister (this list is a work in progress and should not be considered complete):


  • The Romance of Greeting Cards, Ernest Dudley Chase; Rust Craft Pub, revised 1956 edition
  • A History of Valentines, Ruth Webb Lee; The Studio Pub,1952 
  • Valentine Treasury, Robert Brenner; Schiffer, 1997
  • Valentines A Collector's Guide, Barbara Johnson, Ph. D.; Collector Books, 2011
  • Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, Oxford University Press, 2006
  • The Publishers Circular and General Record of British and Foreign Literature, Vol LI, June 1, 1888, p645
  • The Publishers Circular and Booksellers Record of British and Foreign Literature, Vol 12, Issue 65, July to December 1896, p3

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