Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bonzo the Dog - George Studdy

It's the same old time will you be my Valentine?

6 1/2" x 7 1/8"
circa 1920s, 1930s

marked: Printed in Germany
Mechanical Flat

I've got you for My Valentine

3 1/8" x 5 1/4"
circa 1920s

made in Germany
Cat holding a small dog that looks like George E. Studdy's Bonzo character
Flat with easel stand on the back

Bonzo the dog was created by George Studdy in 1922. The character was very popular and was featured in a wide variety of merchandise from candy tins and chocolate molds, to stuffed toys, pins, perfume bottles and paper goods. He was one of the earliest cartoon characters, sometimes appearing with a cat named Ooloo. A headphone-wearing version of him known as the Crosley Pup became the face of an affordable AM radio created by Powell Crosley Jr in 1925.

There are an enormous amount of postcards to collect, with an unknown amount of die-cut valentines too. For the truly obsessed there is even a possible soundtrack for your Bonzo-hunting in 1960's The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

Stecher of Rochester, New York

Oh, that this song of mine may reach your heart dear Valentine.

7" x 3 1/2"
circa 1920s 
  Mechanical Flat
   marked with Stecher logo and  '14' 

Stecher Lithographic Company is most famous for its beautiful fruit crate labels and "nurserymen's plates." The latter were exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.  

They began as Charles F. Muntz and Co in 1871, then became Mensing, Rahn and Stetcher around 1874/1875. They changed again to become Mensing and Stecher around 1878 and finally incorporated as Stecher Lithographic Company in January 1887.  

Originally from Germany, Frank A. Stecher became a rounding success in the chromolithographic printing business. He worked with a number of well respected artists and found more designers through contests. One such was advertised in Arts and Decoration, Vol 4 of November 1913. Prizes ranging from $25.00 to $100.00 were offered for "the best original designs suitable for postcards for either Christmas, New Year or Easter designs." 

The company still exists as Stecher-Traung-Schmidt. Its ties to Rochester were ended in 1980 when the plant there was closed. They now have offices in California.

Artists known to have worked for Stecher:


Arts and Decoration, Vol 4, Nov. 1913, p 130
The National Nurseyman Vol 1 No 1, Feb. 1893, p 49
The American Stationer, Vol 79, Jan. 29, 1916, p16
The Industries of the City of Rochester, Elstner Publishing Co., 1888. p 148
Coffee and Tea Industries and the Flavor Field, Vol 38, Jan., 1915

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Puzzle Purse 1840s-1850s

Puzzle Purse 1:

Friendship's Wish

No rubies on the Indian shore,
Outshine thy noble mind;
Its radiance far excels them all,
And blesses humankind.

A heart of heavenly purity,
Is laid within thy breast;
And ever, for the weary soul,
It breathes some tone of rest.

5" x 5" opened
More text within card
circa 1840s-1850s
no publisher's parks
Heart Shaped Puzzle Purse

3 internal layers

Puzzle purse style valentine cards were often handmade and square shaped in the 18th century. This heart shaped 19th century version is professionally printed with hand painted detailing on the front and back cover pieces. Our scans are only possible because this card has endured some minor damage. The thread at the bottom point of the heart that can be seen in the images of the hand-tinted covers would normally prevent the interior pages from laying flat. While this damage is unfortunate and does affect the card's value, it at least lets us take a more careful look at the interior printing. This card's rarity and advanced age mean that even with its faults it is quite a valuable find. 

Puzzle Purse 2:

The earlier 18th century versions are even more rarely to be found offered for sale. These cards generally reside in the collections of museums or in the famous collections held by the Hallmark company, Norcross, etc. Many of these well known collections in the USA got their start when what remained of the enormous holdings of famed collector and card creator Jonathan King were split up and sold in the late 1950s. Despite King's location in England, a great many - perhaps even the majority - of his cards made their way to the States as Valentine's Day has enjoyed much greater sustained popularity here than in his home country. The Hallmark Historical Collection contains the largest portion of what was sold, having been purchased by the writer Carroll Alton Means and then either gifted or sold to the company.

The hearts that form the front and back of this puzzle purse can also be found as flats, folders and even wall hanging type cards. All are very old and quite hard to come by. The printing and hand painted detailing style is very similar to some small printed cards that can be found bearing the name "Howland." I have examples of these posted in the Esther Howland entry although it is possible they may be more properly credited to S. A. Howland, the printer, stationer, and father of Esther Howland, who was active in his craft before his daughter's famous valentine ventures.

Hope should pleasure at its birth
Fade like the hues of even,
Turn thou away from earth, -
There's rest for thee in heaven.

2 5/8" x 2 1/2" closed
5" x 5" opened
More text within card
circa 1840s-1850s
no publisher's parks
Heart Shaped Puzzle Purse


Barbra Johnson, Ph.D. - Valentines A Collector's Guide, Collector Books, 2011
Frank Staff - The Valentine and Its Origins, Frederick A. Praeger, 1969

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sealed with a Kiss - Kissing and Smooches on Valentine Cards

I'd like to SEA you about being your Valentine

 6 1/4" x 4 7/8"
circa 1930s, 1940s
Mechanical Flat
Marked: prtd in U.S.A.
No other publisher's marks

Will you be My Valentine?

5 1/2" x 3 1/2"
circa 1920s
marked: Series 1260
made in USA
made in USA

Valentine Greetings St. Valentine, You are a Dear, May you live for Many a Year.

3 7/8" x 4 1/4"
circa 1910s, 1920s
Easel Stand on back