Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit

Folk Art Hooked Rugs Painted in Enamel A Handmade Salesman Sample Book

A beautiful salesman sample book with twenty hooked rug designs, each hand-painted in miniature by a Massachusetts woman by the name of J. A. Harlow.  Not only are the samples beautiful and creative, they are rendered here in remarkable detail.  Note prices!   One of my favorite book titles is Anonymous was a Woman which detailed the extraordinary "women's work" created by artists who never signed their needlepoint, quilts, rugs and such.  In this case, there is a name.  The paintings are so beautiful, each could stand alone as a piece of wall art.  The salesman sample book also has numerous descriptions, instructions to order, and not surprisingly a note to return the book in good condition!  "Please be careful of it" reads one.  I will.

J. A. Harlow's  Homemade Salesman Sample of Hooked Rugs Collection Jim Linderman

Antique Folk Art Drawing Man with a Whip 19th Century collection Jim Linderman

Antique Folk Art Drawing Man with a  Whip 19th Century collection Jim Linderman
Drawn by a student circa 1874, it depicts one of her teachers.

Sepia Pin Up Calendar Storefront original photograph collection Jim Linderman

Sepia Pin Up Calendar Storefront.  This snapshot likely shows a photo studio associated with Sepia Magazine, which ran over 35 years but never achieved the reputation of the competitor Ebony or the mini-digest Jet.  Still, it was a popular media source for the Black country within the country.  Starting in 1947, Sepia was published in Texas by Good Publishing Company.  Good was also responsible for the few African-American scandal magazines of the mid 20th Century.  Hep, Jive and Bronze Thrills also came from Good.  Interestingly, The owner was a white man named George Levitan, but the staff was largely African-American, and Mr. Levitan was a civil rights supporter.

This could be a satellite office.  The magazine had nation-wide distribution, so it is possible a studio looking for glamour shots of African-American women would be in NYC or Chicago.  It is also possible this was simply a storefront set up by an anonymous photographer using the Sepia name.  What better way to attract talent?  There is a similar snapshot for sale on a website which identifies the date around 1930, but that is unlikely.

There is so little documentation of early African-American pinups.  My book Secret Life of the Black Pin-up is out of print., but many of the images have been shared and posted by others.  The phrase "Black is Beautiful" was intended to wake up all races…African-American residents were so abused, even they had doubts.  Yes, Black women are beautiful and they had their own subculture of pin-up beauty, but the history is buried and the issues scarce.

One reason so few of the original Good Publications magazines are seen today is due to the "pass-along rate."  Unlike, for example, issues of National Geographic, which are stockpiled in many garages in nearly mint but moldy condition, most of the race magazines were shared over and over until they wore out.  They cost from 25 to 35 cents…and before the 1960s, there was little disposable income for the minority.  They were seldom collected by libraries.  A few examples of Good Magazines are shown here.

See also HERE and HERE
Original snapshot Sepia Pin-Up Calendar Storefront.  No date, circa 1955?  Collection Jim Linderman.  Jim Linderman's book The Birth of Rock and Roll published by Dust to Digital is available for purchase HERE and HERE.


Comic Novelty Foreground Photographs

Comic Novelty Foreground Photographs from the 1940s.  Collection Jim Linderman

Old Handpainted Sign Bull for Sale

Michigan Origin. Circa 1950.  Collection Jim Linderman

The Art of Art Instruction Inc. Draw Me! Free Talent Test! Vintage Matchbook Cover Art

Do you like to draw?  Do you like to draw "do you like to draw" ads?  I presume millions saw these masterpieces of matchbook art.  I have no idea how many took the time to squeeze their name onto the address section inside, but "Art Instruction Inc." is still in business after 100 years.  With the demise of the matchbook (their former audience is literally dying off...you don't need a match for a vapor cigarette) they must advertise somewhere else. There is a pull-down menu on their website to indicate "How you heard about Art Instruction Schools" but matchbook isn't among the options.  If you did apply because you saw one of these mid-century beatnik-like ads, you would have to choose the "other" selection on the form.

One does not "attend" as the "school" is a correspondence program.  Fake colleges have made a comeback…real college is increasingly out of reach for those who need it most.  Who enrolls?  Well, they generally do not accept students UNDER 14.  What?  Until you are 14 years of age, I guess they want you to practice and apply when you've reached puberty. Another portion of the website says their students start as young as 13 and well into their 80s.


Back in the old days, if one filled out a matchbook, they would likely be surprised by a jalopy-driving salesman at their door to close the deal.  They still have salesman dropping in, circling their allocated territory like Google mapping cars.  The program still employs  representatives who make scheduled appointments to obtain a signature in person. 

Their honor student was Charles Schultz.  He figures on the webpage today as a grateful student and actually taught there for a while…but he hardly grew beyond drawing circles.  I have seen Stephen Colbert draw a reasonable Snoopy, and I don't believe he attended. Other alumni include an editorial cartoonist, a Lucas film illustrator, a fashion illustrator, a wildlife artist or two (winner of the Federal Duck Stamp contest) and a set designer for Cecil B. Demille.  Pretty impressive…until one considers that is their 100 year track record.  Peanuts.

From what I can tell, the program costs $4285.00 (27 monthly payments of $150.00) plus the cost of postage to mail your work back and forth to headquarters.  They seem to have mail drops in every state.  I wondered about their policy on dropping out, and sure enough the program provides it on the website, state by state.  Here is the policy I would have:

State: Michigan
Cancelation Policy:
When Notice of Withdrawal is given: After five calendar days but before beginning training - a registration fee of 20% of the total tuition, not to exceed $200.00. After beginning of training - $200.00 registration fee plus 10% of the balance of the total tuition until 10% of the assignments are completed. After completing 10% of the assignments but prior to completing 25% of the assignments - $200.00 registration fee plus 25% of the balance of the total tuition. After completing 25% of the assignments but prior to completing 50% of the assignments - $200.00 registration fee plus 50% of the balance of the total tuition. After completing 50% of the assignments the full course price will be due.
Days no Responsibility: 5 days
Type: Percent - Cancel up to 50%
Registration Fee: $200.00

Can you draw?  Maybe the question should be Can you READ.  I can't figure it out.  It appears some 95% or so complete the program.

I have been interested in "self-taught" artists for decades.  There is no telling how many artists the school nurtured (or ruined) over the years, but I might have seen some of their work in antique malls.  There used to be category of artist known as "Sunday Artists" but the Art Instruction Inc. is open every day of the week. 


Details of matchbook advertising circa 1950 - 1960.  Original matchbooks collection Jim Linderman 

Patriotic Poontang Pinup Tear off a Piece! War Bond Sign from World War Two makes it HOT

Patriotic Poontang Pinup Tear off a Piece!  War Bond Sign from World War Two makes it HOT!

Well, it is nice to see a World War Two Pinup who isn't Betty Grable...but my guess is that this risque folk art painting disturbed some of the folks on the home front.  It is working though...more than halfway to the goal!  The small text reads "Buy Bonds and make it HOT for the Japanazis.  

I had no idea the phrase "tear off a piece" went back that far.  It goes back to the 19th Century.  "A phrase denoting seduction or sexual achievement from the male point of view" but raising money was at the time was more important than good taste, I guess.

This isn't the first "piece" of risque WW2 ephemera I've seen.  Here is a set of sexy patriotic pins I presume were worn by USO women helping serve the boys.  PIN ME DOWN SAILOR! 
Snapshot circa 1943 Pinup Bond campaign and Patriotic Pins Collection Jim Linderman courtesy Curley's Den of Antiquities  

Real Photo Post Cards of Wegner's Rocks in Sparta WI

A stone birthday cake topped with wedding photographs welcomes you to the creations of Mr. Wegner.  An American flag made from shards of colored glass.  A replica of the ocean liner which brought Paul and Matilda Wegner to America.  All circa 1925 - 1935 creations built in the yard to attract visitors.  Automobiles were becoming common, but what the hell was there to drive to?  Wegner's Garden.  The couple did not allow photographs, choosing rather to sell real photo postcards to visitors.  There are 24 different images known, here are four of them.  It is good to remember real photos were more commerce than art.  A photographer or "publisher" would print as many as he though would sell.

Real Photo Postcards of the Wegner Grotto..  circa 1930 - 1935 Collection Jim Linderman

A Folk Art Stone Head in Georgia or South Carolina

Two heads in between Columbus GA and Fairfax SC.  Original snapshot circa 1935?  
Colection Jim Linderman

Original Hand Drawn Rebus Parlor Cards Game 19th Century HARD

Original hand drawn REBUS cards dated 1895.  From a large set.  VERY hard to solve, but I will give you the first one...Bonaparte.  Collection Jim Linderman