The Bizarre Valentine Postcards of R.F. Outcault

By:  Kevin Grace

Postcard showing little boy crying and dogs looking onThe children are either drawn as freckle-faced street urchins or as the clean-smocked offspring of the hoity-toity.  The animals – a parrot, typically dogs – look on quizzically or crack wise.  And the occasion being Valentine’s Day, the messages are about the lovelorn and the hopeful.  These are the early 20th century postcards drawn by Richard Felton Outcault, a pioneer of the modern newspaper comic strip who gave America such literary figures as Buster Brown and The Yellow Kid.   And advertising being Richard Felton Outcaultwhat it was (and is), Buster and the Kid gave us books, shoes, coin banks, calendars, clocks, pencils, puzzles, and all manner of geegaws, selling the country on the all-American pastime of buying stuff.

But the postcards deviated from the overall merchandising a bit, although Outcault’s newspaper employers and their agents certainly generated a lot of them.  The holiday cards were something a little different, a reflection of the artist’s own attitudes to his comic Postcard showing girl kissing boy with the words, "O! Will I be your Valentine?creations.  R.F. Outcault was born in 1863, hailing from Lancaster, Ohio.  He came to Cincinnati in 1878 to attend the McMicken School of Design – which is now the Cincinnati Art Academy, though the University of Cincinnati certainly traces part of its heritage as well to the McMicken school, so in effect Outcault is a UC alumnus.  He graduated in 1881 and began his employment as a painter of bucolic scenes in the massive safes constructed by the Hall Safe and Lock Company.  Growing in local reputation, Outcault managed to land a job with the 1888 centennial industrial exposition in Cincinnati, one of the many local product fairs held in the 19th century, and which were begun as an outlet of the Ohio Mechanics Institute, founded in Child asking for a Valentine with parrot looking on1828 and now part of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.  At the exposition he painted scenes for Thomas Edison’s electric light displays, parlaying that into a career on the east coast with trade magazines.  Incidentally, while Edison was a telegraph operator in 1860s Cincinnati, he frequented the OMI library for his reading pleasure.

By 1894, Outcault was drawing cartoons for newspapers and magazines, particularly the New Postcard with the words "This is February 14" showing a girl and a dogYork World, the New York Journal, Judge, and the New York Herald.  It was during this time that he created his first famous character of his “Hogan’s Alley” cartoon, the Yellow Kid.  By 1902, R.F. introduced his famous Buster Brown and his faithful terrier, Tige.  And, his personal style of using panels and dialogue balloons became a standard in cartooning.

A boy in uniform giving a girl a Valentine's cardBut those strange Valentine cards?  They are unlike the sweet and lovey-dovey kids’ valentines of the late 20th century.  Instead, there is an edge to Outcault’s art, a bit of an insult here and there, and more rejection than true love.  In a way, they are an outgrowth of the so-called “Vinegar Valentines” of Victorian America.  Vinegar valentines Postcard with a girl and boy and the words "I adore you"were sarcastic and insulting, greetings designed to reject the offers of true love.  Competing with true romantic valentines, these little missives of misanthropy usually were sent anonymously to those one disliked, be they flirtatious bachelors or suffragists.   Outcault’s cards resemble them in a natural progression, one supposes, from invective to just strange little takes on the whole idea of Valentine’s Day.

Postcard with the words, "I'm thinking, thinking all the time. Of my heart's best love, my valentine." Showing young man and dogFor R.F. Outcault, his valentine postcards were done in his typical style and represent another aspect of what was a long and productive cartooning career.  Retiring from the hubbub of daily newspaper work, he spent the last decade of his life quietly painting and died in 1928.

 

A Jacobite Jukebox: Historical Narratives Preserved in Song

By: McKenna Corey, ARB Intern

It was hard for me to really conceptualize the true narrative power of song until I was reorganizing the Virginius C. Hall Jacobite Collection this week. As I was arranging a stack of books, I saw one that caught my eye. The spine read: The Scottish Jacobites and Their Songs and Music. Written in 1899 by Thomas Newbigging, the book recounts in detail not only the history of the Jacobite movements, but also their rich musical history.

Cover of Scottish Jacobites by Thomas NewbiggingThough I’ve never really had any musical talent (except some early experiences with the recorder), I thought it might be interesting to pursue some further research on the topic. Sure enough, there were further resources on the musical stylings of the Jacobites, and I decided to dig in! Though in this post I’ll only be referencing Newbigging’s book,  I’ll include a reading list of some other books I found here at the ARB that focus on the Jacobites’ music and song.

As I read further into Newbigging’s analysis of the songs, I realized how truly important music was to the Jacobites as they pursued their quest to return King James II and VII to the throne, and restore the power of the monarchy to the House of Stuart. The Jacobites were steadfast in their goals; they believed that James’ removal from power was an illegal move, and that he was their rightful ruler. Though the Jacobites were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts to restore the House of Stuart, their music lives on and preserves their history.

This music served a variety of purposes. Some songs were poetic battle cries that motivated the Jacobites to pursue their goals, some were sad ruminations upon those that were lost, and some took a darkly humorous outlook on a seemingly hopeless situation. Regardless of their intended purposes, these Jacobite songs are poignant reflections on this period in history, including not only the Jacobites’ story, but their spirit. These songs are performed even today. I wanted to pick out a few of my favorites from Newbigging’s book, and include some audio so you can listen to them too! I didn’t think I’d be spending my week listening to bagpipes, but I can’t say I’m upset about it; rather, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Continue reading A Jacobite Jukebox: Historical Narratives Preserved in Song

Shakespeare’s Source for Romeo and Juliet

By:  Kevin Grace

“For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Romeo and Juliet illustrationThose are the final lines in Romeo and Juliet. The young lovers are dead, victims of their own passion and the enmity between the Capulets and the Montagues.  Though their story is set in Renaissance Verona, it could be a tale told in any culture around the world in any era of humankind.  For all the literary genius of William Shakespeare, scholars have long known that many of his plays were re-workings of stories he heard and historical accounts he read during his lifetime.  Whether it was for Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, Othello, or others, Shakespeare adapted these accounts for his stage in the late 16th and early 17th centuries that now have been performed countless times for more than 400 years, and over those centuries his own words have been adapted time and again.   To see King Lear presented in England or Ireland is not the same as seeing it performed in South Africa or India or China.  And of course, to see it once in England or America is not the same as seeing it once again on what might be the same stage in the same year.  William Shakespeare’s plays are paragons of beautiful language, infinite interpretation, and above all, compelling stories.

Shakespeare Extra Illustrated

Continue reading Shakespeare’s Source for Romeo and Juliet

Bernstein, Shakespeare, Preservation Photographs and Dedicated Staff are All Featured in the Latest Issue of Source

source headerRead Source, the online newsletter, to learn more about the news, events, people and happenings in UC Libraries.

In this edition of Source we celebrate Leonard Bernstein at 100 with news of an exhibit on display in the Walter C. Langsam Library. Dean Xuemao Wang writes about how the occasion of the university’s upcoming Bicentennial has led him to reflect on the contributions of four staff members retiring this fall. We announce two grants received by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine that will promote good data and good health.

University archivist and head of the Archives and Rare Books Library Kevin Grace teaches readers and students in his honors class about Extra-Illustrated Editions. Jessica Ebert, lead photographic technician in the Preservation Lab writes about her work creating visual representations of the conservation treatments performed, and housing created, in the Lab. Mike Braunlin of the John Miller Burnam Classics Library offers his experience and insights gained working in the library for 42 years. The UC Foundation writes about a unique collection gifted to the Libraries from two former professors. Lastly, the annual Books by the Banks: Cincinnati USA Books Festival, of which UC Libraries is an organizing partner, is announced in this issue.

Read these articles, as well as past issues, on the web at http://libapps.libraries.uc.edu/source/ and via e-mail. To receive Source via e-mail, contact melissa.norris@uc.edu to be added to the mailing list.

Edward Locker’s 19th Century Views of Spain

By:  Savannah Gulick, Archives & Rare Books Library Student Assistant

Title Page, Edward LockerOne of the collecting areas of the Rare Books Collection in the Archives & Rare Books Library is early travel and exploration.  Though this area of the holdings ranges from the 16th century to the 20th, many of the travel accounts are illustrated volumes from the 19th century.  During the Peninsular War (1808-1813) that was fought between Napoleon and Spain against Great Britain and Portugal for the control of the Iberian Peninsula, the English watercolorist and civil secretary of 1st Viscount Exmouth Edward Pellew, Edward Hawke Locker, recorded his tour of Spain through watercolors and etchings. Following his appointment as civil commissioner of Greenwich Hospital, Locker proceeded to publish his account in Views of Spain (1824).

Locker, the youngest son of Captain William Locker, was born on October 9, 1777 in Kent. He entered the military following an education at Eton in 1795 at the naval pay office. From that point forward, he would secure a series of promotions until his retirement as civil commissioner Palenciain 1844 when he suffered a mental breakdown. Remembered as a man of varied talents, Locker was a skilled artist and a smooth conversationalist, and, was a fellow of the Royal Society. His pictorial tour of Spain is just one of his many illustrated works documenting his travels abroad. The British Empire and travel literature in the 19th century often go hand in hand as many of Britain’s skilled officers were sent on foreign tours and often documented their exotic travels (see account of India: http://libapps.libraries.uc.edu/liblog/2018/05/art-and-empire-in-nineteenth-century-india/). Continue reading Edward Locker’s 19th Century Views of Spain

Ohio Digital Newspapers & Chronicling America Presentation in ARB on Thursday July 26

Come hear about Ohio’s digital newspaper project and learn how to freely access historic newspapers from around the country.

When:  Thursday July 26 from 11:00am-12:30pm

Where:  Archives and Rare Books Library, Seminar Room 814

Westliche Blatter mastheadDid you know that 90 Ohio newspapers including foreign language papers have been digitized and are now part of the Library of Congress’ free newspaper database Chronicling America?  Learn how to access the over 13 million pages of historic newspapers from 47 states and territories covering 1789-1963 on Chronicling America.  Jenni Salamon, Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program, and Bronwyn Benson, Quality Control Technician, from the Ohio History Connection will demonstrate basic and advanced search strategies and how to work with your results to find information about local, state, national and international events, people, places and culture. They will also provide a brief overview newspaper digitization process and an update on the digitization of Ohio’s foreign language newspapers.

The Colored Citizen mastheadTreasures from the Archives and Rare Books Library collections including items from the German Americana collection that complement the digitized newspapers will be available for viewing before and after the presentation.

 

Art and Empire in Nineteenth-Century India

By:  Alia Levar Wegner

Travel literature in 19th-century India was closely linked to the British empire. Behind every picture was an army. This is especially true of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ramus Forrest’s illustrated book, A Picturesque Tour Along the Rivers Ganges and Jumna, In India, (SpecCol RB Oversize DS408 .F65) published in 1824.

Picturesque Tour Title Page
Title page of A picturesque tour along the rivers Ganges and Jumna, in India. (Spec Coll RB Oversize DS408 .F65)

Continue reading Art and Empire in Nineteenth-Century India

Exploring Tagalog Grammar

By:  Alia Levar Wegner, ARB Intern

The University of Cincinnati’s Archives & Rare Books Library holds a rare first edition of Sebastián de Totanes’s Tagalog grammar, Arte de la lengua tagala y manual tagalog para la administración de los Santos Sacramentos.  Printed entirely on rice paper and bound in vellum, this book served as a Tagalog language primer for Spanish missionaries.

Tagalog Grammar Cover and Title Page

Left:  Vellum cover of Arte de la lengua tagala (PL6053 .T7 1745),  Right: Title page

Continue reading Exploring Tagalog Grammar

In Times Like These

By:  Kevin Grace

Puppets from Ridley Walker PlayOne of the most in-the-news phrases of this past year has been “fake news.”  Every political point of view has employed it to the point where the first reactions among readers and listeners to current events has a question in mind, “Is this real information?”  And in times of political or social stress, there is a mounting trepidation over who controls information, or, who preserves it.  Librarians are often in the forefront of acquiring information, protecting it from those who would alter or destroy it, and preserving it for now and for the future.  The sources of information, of knowledge, continue to grow exponentially and in our rapidly changing technological world, much of it disappears.  As websites continue to grow – and to disappear through political exigencies – the expertise of librarians and archivists are called upon, a recent example of which is illustrated in a science article on web discovery and preservation: https://apps.sciencefriday.com/data/librarians.html. Continue reading In Times Like These

Rare Book Occasional – Scroll of Esther

By: Alia Levar Wegner, ARB Intern, 2017-2018

The inaugural post of the new Rare Book Occasional looks at the Archives and Rare Books Library’s two manuscript copies of the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther). Produced sometime in the 18th- and 19th centuries, these parchment scrolls illustrate the ritual importance of scroll reading in Judaism.

The Book of Esther holds a prominent position in the Jewish faith, as it is one of the Five Megillot, or five scrolls that mark particular festival or fast days in the Jewish calendar. This important Biblical book recounts Esther’s role in securing the salvation of the Persian Jews, and its recitation marks a day of joyous celebration for Jewish people. Esther scrolls are traditionally read twice during the festival of Purim, once in the morning and again in the evening.

Scroll of EstherScroll of Esther opened

Top:  Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), before treatment,  Bottom: Scroll open to the names of Haman’s sons (Esther 9:7,9). Photos: Jessica Ebert

The materiality of the Scroll of Esther forms an important part of its religious significance. Early rabbinical writers composed rules regulating its production and public recitation. According to rabbinic tradition, the ceremonial Scroll of Esther can only be handwritten on parchment with ink using the square Hebrew script. Esther scrolls are also distinguished by their arrangement on a single dowel. These rabbinical prescriptions continued to influence the scroll’s material construction in more contemporary times, as illustrated by the Archives and Rare Books Library’s 18th– and late 19th-century Esther scrolls. In accordance with tradition, these scrolls are handwritten on vellum in the traditional script.

Featured here are images of one of the Library’s Esther scrolls that recently underwent conservation to repair small tears and damage to the parchment (Ms. no. 22). The scroll was rehoused on two dowels to enable the manuscript to be safely viewed.

Additional information about the conservation process can be found here.

Scroll of Esther

Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), after treatment. Photo: Jessica Ebert

For more information on this and other items at the Archives and Rare Books Library, visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library, call us at 513.556.1959, email us at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, view our website at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati.