Matching

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I had to ferret around the apartment this morning as I had no post in mind having lost a number of auctions lately. (And later today I will be scribbling advance posts to keep you all in Pictorama while I travel to Denver on business next Saturday!) However, I reached deep into the Pictorama archive and pulled out this rather wonderful little gem. It was a gift years ago from Richard Greene, match collector extraordinaire, who had us as guests for a weekend at his home when Kim agreed to do a con in Philly at his request. Richard and his wife live in a house chock-a-block full of interesting bits and pieces he shared with us and they were the very most generous hosts.

Fellow cartoonist (the sadly now late) Jay Lynch was also there for the weekend and it was the only time I ever spent more than an evening with him. I forget the exact year, but it was summer and terribly hot like it is now. The con was in an old, wooden, un-air conditioned building and I remember spending the day stationed thoughtfully in front of a fan.

Richard gave Kim a hat he still wears (if I remember he did advertising lay out for a living) when not in the old Stetson I gave him, and Richard gave me this splendid matchbook from his glorious collection.

Front. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Kernel Lew Mercur’s (Original) Nut Club is pretty darn interesting (and colorful!) in its own right. The back promises dinners, dancing, and laffs. Located in Miami Beach (Alton Road at Dade Blvd.) it was open all night. Cuisine by Delmonico is noted along the top fold. Mr. Mercur’s image, or what we offered as such, is on the front in top hat with a carnation and musical notes.

Verso. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Not surprisingly, there are few tracks on Mr. (Kernal) Mercur or the Nut Club, although I did find a reference to it in a book about the bygone hey day of eating establishments of Miami (Lost Restaurants of Miami by Seth Bramson) and it would seem that the Nut Club was among a proliferation of Jewish cafeteria style restaurants and delis that became popular in Miami at the time. Bramson notes that Mercur did indeed preside over the restaurant in a top hat.

Other restaurants of the time (1940’s?) and place included The Five O’Clock Club (acquired by Martha Reye and which made it into the 1970’s) and Bill Jordan’s Bar of Music, an eponymous piano bar. Interesting that these establishments liked to label themselves as bars and clubs rather than restaurants or cafeterias. (And Cuisine by Delmonico doesn’t much scream Jewish deli to me either.)

Full inside view. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

For me of course it is all about the inside of this matchbook which reveals (voila!) the matches, lined up like a picket fence, emblazoned with a black Tom cat atop a fence with a favorite wheeze, Ya gotta make calls…if you want results, as the other black cat and kittens march below. Devoted and early Pictorama readers will remember a post I did devoted to a celluloid match safe with the same saying. (That post can be found here.) I used to have a postcard with the same image pinned up in my office at the Met.

Celluloid match safe. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Not a spot on this matchbook goes undecorated and the inside cover goes on to assure the visitor, be entertained at the funniest and screwiest place outside an asylum, yes it’s Kernel Lew Mercur’s Nut Club. Never a cover charge! It gives the exact address (1827 Alton Boulevard) and a phone number (5-9952) for reservations tucked behind the matches. At the bottom it says, We’re Never Too Busy to Say Hello! Who wouldn’t want to go and nosh a knish? But most of all, who wouldn’t pocket these matches? So glad somebody did!

Drink and Enjoy Kenny’s!

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Those of us on the East coast are enjoying a massive snow storm, perhaps even blizzard, this last Saturday in January. If you read last week’s post about the January-ness of this particular year (it can be found here if you missed it) you know that my attitude toward this month in general is to usher it out the door as expeditiously as possible. Still, it is January in New York and it is a time to expect some snow and here it is. Meanwhile, there is almost always snow on the ground for my birthday in February, and so the year opens.

I thought we could all use an especially jolly post today to help kick January out the door and this bit of kitty advertising did not disappoint in this regard when it wandered into Deitch Studio earlier this week. It is simply identified on the back with Drink and Enjoy KENNY’S Coffee and Teas.

I was surprised by how quickly I was able to locate a bit of history on Kenny’s coffee empire. Kenny liked a good premium and a handful of mostly ceramic ones are still extant. I cannot say I find the aesthetic of most of these nearly as entertaining as this wacky carload of kitties however. This card is as if Louis Wain did a stint wandering into an otherwise rather staid establishment. Kenny seemed partial to generally less colorful, more sedate and somewhat pedestrian premium. Some of the more jolly however, snatched off current sales on eBay below.

For a quick history on Kenny I got the scoop primarily from an article in the Baltimore Sun published back in 1999. Kenny was C.D. (Cornelius David) Kenny who arrived in Baltimore from Rochester in 1872. He quickly established his first coffee and tea emporium and rapidly expanded his business across several nearby states. The retail stores were shuttered in the early thirties as a result of the Depression remaining solely as a wholesale operation until it was eventually swallowed into anonymousness by one of the enormous food conglomerates.

January 2009 © Frank H. Jump

Onto the kitties. My previous posts about Victorian advertising cards (one can be found here) proved out that generally they were produced en masse with the intention of personalizing the card for a given vendor, not designed for them. So in theory this card could exist with advertising for another vendor printed on the back. For the record though, I have never seen this card before and my nascent searches for information did not turn up other examples.

Our driver kit is on the right side of this sort of Stanley Steamer-type auto, as photos confirm they actually did. He looks a bit nervous about being in charge, but I especially like the white fellow with his paw arms folded across his chest! Indeed! The two boys in the middle section appear to be have a grand time of it and look full of beans – especially the one in the yellow jacket. Faster, faster he cries!

Card as it sits flat. Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

In the back of the car a cat couple canoodles while their chaperon looks nervously on. Ha! She has no bandwidth for the thrills of the ride and instead is burdened with her responsibility for fluffy white girl kitty in pink who is holding paws with her dapper boyfriend.

I think you will agree that’s a whole lot of card fun to devote to a bit of advertising which isn’t even a display featuring the company on the front. The card is ingenious in design and how it folds out into three dimensions, creating a great effect; solidly constructing which is why it remains in good shape 100 years later. Even the grill of the card is affixed in such a way as to create another layer. Just splendid!

Back of card. Sturdy despite the age and a few dinks.

While I am tempted to try to find a way of keeping this one on display it resists remaining in the unfolded position and although in very good shape is certainly a bit fragile so perhaps it needs to live tucked into the Pictorama archive.

Meanwhile, the snow continues to pour down and sweep wildly by the window of our 16th floor apartment, piling up on the sill, so I may follow the example set by Cookie and Blackie and, figuratively at least, tuck my nose under my paws and have a snooze filled day.

10:00 am view outside our window. A bit calmer than what I see now!