Bogue’s Soap

 

Pam’s Pictorama: This kitty cut-out is about six inches high. She (pink ribbon makes me think she and there’s a certain girl cat quality) sports a rather enormous bell – gosh, birds were certainly safe around this cat unless they were stone deaf. Kim is not a fan of this particular acquisition in the cat advertising category. I admit that is later than the Victorian cards I have been purchasing and it seems to have had another purpose. As you can see below, the back of the card is both advertising for the soap and instruction for the use. Soap Kitty had a Doggie partner as well and you could obtain on of these Cats or Dog. Purchase 3 cakes of BOGUE’S SOAP for 25 cents. I have supplied the dog as a grab off of Google and he is missing his “stand-up strip” which obscures the interesting if racist diatribe on the back of the cat card, also shown at the bottom of the post.

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Dog image, not in my collection.

With a quick search I was interested to find out a bit about Charles B. Bogue from the Historic Albion, Michigan website. Despite the NYC Hudson Street address on the card, Mr. Bogue hailed originally from Michigan and then made his soap fortune in Chicago.

In his personal life, Charles B. Bogue was married to Martha Gleason Harris in 1876, and the couple had three children, all of whom are buried in Riverside Cemetery. After their divorce in 1899, Martha married Charles’ brother George Bogue. Charles in the meantime married Eva Knight of Chicago and moved there where he continued in the mercantile trade under the firm name Bogue Soap Company. He had one daughter by his second marriage. Charles was still living in Chicago in the late 1920s.

The claims made by the soap, complete with instructions – for use in all seasons, no boiling…saves labor, shortens the wash day, and makes home happy. My favorite is no more blue Mondays. Not to mention the $100 offer for any bar of Bogue’s Soap that will not do all that is claimed for it.

A Bogue’s soap company (artisanal and utterly devoid of cats, dogs, or racist advertising) exists today in Ojai, California. Their soap can be purchased at Whole Foods and other venues. There’s no reference to the soap’s history and perhaps is not even the same company. Artisanal or not, I would personally like them much better if they were still offering cat and dog cut-outs with every 75 cent purchase. However, buy it, try it, you’ll like it!

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Back of cat cut-out with cardboard strip to stand-up

By a Thread

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Pam’s Pictorama Post: That thread sure can hold! Man, I would sew my coat buttons on with that stuff. I’m nuts for the teasing kitties – especially the one hiding behind his friend, but egging him on. The cool character leaning on a giant spool isn’t taking any chances. He will cheer and jeer, but make a quick getaway if needed – we all know bums like that.

Our friends at J&P Coats thread are still in business and have been for more than 250 years, according to an anniversary website of their history. I learned that the company was founded by James Coats who opened his first factory near his home in Paisley, Scotland, in 1826, known as Ferguslie Mill. His was the second mill in the area, the first belonging to someone named Clark. By the time Coats opens his mill there were at least 15 in the area.

Two other facts stood out about J&P Coats thread. First, they evidently founded the practice of making decorative wooden cases for their threads which were used to display and hold them in shops. They made these cases from the wood leftover from the making of thread spools which was a thrifty business move and great advertising. These are cunning and collectible and I would certainly grab one up given the opportunity. The other story is that Thomas Edison evident used carbonized Coats thread in his early experiments for electricity – No. 9 ordinary Coats Co. cord No. 29 to be specific. Not surprisingly, they were also deep in the Victorian trade and advertising card fad and produced calendars that are reproduced and said to be sought after as well.

As for cats teasing dogs, it is an old, old story. Given the opportunity, what cat worth its salt wouldn’t temp a tied up or similarly disadvantaged pooch? My sister had a cat, named Milkbone, who used to tease their massive pitbull mastiff mix, but was smart enough to know where in the house she would lead the dog so she could leap up or run under something and the dog Ron couldn’t get her. I always told my sister, if you’re going to be a cat named Milkbone and live with a dog, you had better be a smart kitty.

 

Krazy Kat Inn

Pam’s Pictorama: This sort of pulls the idea of cat advertising in another direction. While this card, with its cat characters more Terry Tunes and Aesop’s Fables than Krazy, first call…

Source: Krazy Kat Inn

Krazy Kat Inn

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Pam’s Pictorama: This sort of pulls the idea of cat advertising in another direction. While this card, with its cat characters more Terry Tunes and Aesop’s Fables than Krazy, first called out to me for the location here on West 48th Street and Broadway, the patter on the back sold me. It should be noted that the artist who drew this thought enough of his swipe to sign his name –  or at least Rusty signed with gusto and underlined below Miss Kitty. It is a later entry, decades after the glory days of Victorian cards, but as we well know, cats continued to sell.

In 1930, Krazy Kat the comic strip was roaring along in the midst of its run. Two of the five studios that were to have Krazy Kat entries had just about shot their bolt and in 1930 Columbia was launching their entry. The earliest cartoons, made in 1916 and ’17, were International releases. These are hard to find, but real gems in my opinion. Krazy maintains a look more or less true to the comics in these and some even have a sense of Harriman’s own hand. She/he gets more stylized as we move through the Bray and Winkler years. The toys seem to be based on this design for the most part. Finally, as we get to Columbia Krazy looks much less like the newspaper self. I was a bit stunned by this at first and dismissed them. However, Jerry Beck was kind to send us a disk of these several years ago and just judged on their own, I love these cartoons regardless of how little they resemble the comic strip. I am a tad sorry that no toys appear to have been made with this model – I would love to be wrong however, let me know. Meanwhile, I offer links to a sample of these cartoons here: Krazy and Ignatz at the Circus (1916)A Happy Family (1935). We are so lucky to be able to snatch a look at these on Youtube these days!

Diving down the internet rabbit hole of Buddy Walker and Harry Delson I found some references to Buddy Walker and Harry Delson at the Krazy Kat Inn in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1930 which helps date this card…the Krazy Kat Inn, where somebody ought to do something about Harry Delson. According to Variety he was heading a list of principals at the Alamo on 125th Street…a real vaudeville act when handled by these competent performers back in the teens. And further back, in 1912, he was the main feature who kept the audience spinning with laughter all night. I also found a radio listing for a broadcast from the above listing for the Krazy Kat Inn, so I guess it had at least a touch of prestige. Without find a real description Delson’s act was described as Hebrew humor and evidently Walker was known for a notable comedy performance in black face in the 1920’s. An obit for Harry Delson, vaudeville performer, who died at age 62 in New York City, appears in 1950.

Stretching this a bit further into the territory of interesting speculation and trivia. My husband Kim is related on his father’s side to the actress Gloria Delson. Gloria is a former Goldwyn Girl, actress and vocalist, once married to famed lyricist Sammy Cahn. Although I was unable to tie them out as related, we more or less assume that Harry was related to her and therefore to Kim as well.

 

Fat Cat

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: It is hard to read, but at the bottom of this photo is written Alec – 5 yrs old. 31 lbs. In case you do not know, I am here to tell you that 31 lbs is an enormous kitty! Not surprisingly, it is a man in a chef’s hat that has treat trained this pudgy fellow. Kitty is clearly used to standing on his hind legs for food treats, although his ears are back here. This card was never mailed and there is nothing else written on it – no indication where it is from although it was purchased from someone in the United States.

It isn’t a good photo. A lousy composition with cat and man way too small, it was obviously snapped in a hurry – perhaps kitty was harder to get agree to pose than I state above. However, it is sort of great anyway and I wanted it for my collection. The chef’s hat on the man really adds something and even though we cannot see kitty well, his personality is obvious. Despite his declared girth there is something of the working cat about him. I do not think he achieved 31 lbs on rodents alone, but I can’t help but suspect that numerous ones fell under his claw paws over time and supplemented his diet. He must have been beloved in some way for this inky card to have made it through time before coming to reside in the Butler archive.

Quite a ways back I posted another photo, Sporty, of a cat performing on his hind legs – that time for a toy and not food. As all of us who share a home with cats know, engaging them in feeding time rituals is necessary, but you have to be careful. Cookie and Blackie seem to attempt to move their feeding times (morning and evening) ever earlier each day. Everyday we do our best to remain firm, lest we end up feeding them on command hourly! Kim tells me tales of cats he knew who drove their owners out of bed in the middle of the night for snacks or would begin destroying the apartment. We had our own unfortunate brush with a cat treat obsessed kitty – treats have been banned from the house as a result and these kits do not even know of their existence. (I trust you all to keep the secret.)  Still, Blackie seems to know when smoked salmon for a sandwich is making an appearance in the kitchen, and Cookie will speak in full cat sentences if her dish of dry food reaches below a certain point. We are just glad they are unable to pop the top of a can or open the refrigerator on their own.

Nice Kitty

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This snapshot came out of a album by the look of the back of it, and with the highlighted title Nice Kitty preserved as well. There is no date and it seems timeless other than to say my guess about the printing is the 1940’s or later. This is a pretty fine cat costume and I would have enjoyed owning it myself. I do hope there is a tail somewhere even though it isn’t in view of the camera. And of course, I would have preferred it in black, or black and white. Nonetheless, this little girl is enjoying her role and is nicely crouched for the camera in a kitty pose.

Although the idea of a childhood Pam dressing up as a cat would seem self-evident, I do not believe I ever had the honor. These days you can purchase such nice cat ear hair bands and tails that one can put together a very fine outfit indeed. I do own a pair of cat ears, black fur with orange sequins lining the insides. I bought them more than a decade ago when my cat Otto was still around. I remember the first time I put them on and showed her. Clearly, although cats may not see things in detail they understand outlines, and mine had just turned into a giant cat. Her eyes widened briefly and then she gave me an utterly disgusted look and backed away, almost shaking her head in dismay. Her expression was exactly the same as someone who had just heard a racist joke and was deeply offended.

Pet Family Photo

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I fell hard for these photos as soon as I saw them. This young woman in her turn-of-the-century outfit holding her cat – who is making a piss-cat face, as we call it in this house, disdain at having been detained for the photo taking activity. The woman has one dog on her lap and her hand placed gently on the other, her affection for her pets is clear. Whoever printed this photo lightened the area around her a bit with some darkroom magic, as there is a subtle halo around her and the animals as a result. And then, not to be left out, the third dog was taken on the same bench (he required a bit of lightening up too I think) and framed together and the two make a whole family portrait. I guess they couldn’t round him up for the other photo? Whoever did it has him posed pitch perfect to create this double portrait.

The practice of matting photos this way is long gone and I am not even sure how one had it done. The one that has slipped cannot be moved back – it is not loose in the mat, although it looks that way. It pleases me that these photos will likely always be together this way. This photo has some other developing, chemical issues that have emerged over time, the silver shine at the bottom of the single dog is some sort of chemical wonk that has emerged.

Despite the need for some printing intervention, the light in these photos is wonderful – drifting down from above. Dreamy, late afternoon sun falling on the leaves and trees. This photo duo came from Great Britain and there is something distinctly British about the garden and the light. The young woman is looking up at the camera, almost shyly, still clearly the queen with her animal subjects and of all around her.