Pam’s Pictorama Post: Not surprisingly, this cat choral card attracted me for the kits, not the ad. These anthropomorphic kitties appear to be the cats of a Louis Wain influenced pen and their pop-eyed expressions may pay tribute to him. However, there is much that is their own to applaud, such as the conductor using his tail as a baton and the little fellow without music who has his claws into that pole – although we will assume he is lifting his voice in lilting cat song while he puts his back in to a good scratch, tail pointing up. J.M. Ives must have been pleased enough with the that he has planted his copyright at the bottom – a surprisingly early 1881, making this card earlier than most. Perhaps that explains its single color printing.
While these Victorian cards rarely turn up anything much about the what or where that is being advertised a quick search on D. McCarthy & Co. revealed that this family owned business was headquartered in Syracuse, New York. In 1893 they constructed the building, shown below, for the department store. The building still exists in Syracuse today and evidently one can visit a small exhibit about the history of the company there.
I admit surprise when I realized that JM Ives is the Ives in Currier and Ives – or at least it most likely is as the name and the dates are right. I cannot explain why he would have published this only under his own name. I also didn’t realize that neither Currier nor Ives were artists, just publishers, Currier was a lithographer and Ives was an accountant in the company who Currier took in as a partner over time. So Mr. Cat Artist is lost to time on this one. But whoever he was, I like his style and I’d buy shoes from his cats.