Cranky Valentine


Pam’s Pictorama: For all of you who still have the sickly smarminess of Valentine’s Day stuck in your craw and eating your teeth, today’s post is a logical antidote to show you that you are not alone. There is evidently a long history of the vinegar Valentine.

I am not sure why, but decided I had to have this card. I generally don’t like to go negative on cards, I really hate pawing through contemporary cards that often just seem mean. This card charmed me nonetheless. The poem does entertain:

Your crabbed actions are enough to vex
The most ardent admirer of your sex,
And you care for nothing that we can see
Except your cat and your cup of tea.

How much more does a girl really need in life? The black Halloween style cat is fun and she is mannishly well drawn. It is a common card, and I have seen others on eBay subsequently. This one wasn’t sent and I do wonder who exactly one would send it to – and also that they were kept all these years by the recipients!

A recent article in the New York Times discussed the history of the so-called vinegar Valentine and its popularity in the late 19th century. On February 14, 1871 the Times wrote the following:

Of all the valentines published those designated ‘comic’ are the most popular. They are the hideous caricatures which are to be seen at this season in almost every stationer’s window, and are made to burlesque every trade and profession. They consist of a few black lines and a daub of color, to which are attached a few doggerel rhymes. They pervert the idea of the valentine; for, instead of being love missives, or tending to afford gratification, they are too often sent out of spite, to carry anger or annoyance to the receiver. Of these there have been sold nearly 12,000,000, and strange to say, they are mostly purchased by women. Why women find more use for them than men would be a difficult question to answer, but such is the case, and the circulars issued by the publishers will bear out the assertion.

I believe our card in question is of a higher quality than implied here, but it is also clearly a later model. The poison pen Valentine clearly continued to thrive into the early part of the 20th century. Oddly, it is the one area I don’t find so many negative cards today – birthdays for example, almost hard to find an acceptable one. But the needling Valentine seems to have seen its day, although I know some folks who would be glad to bring it back.

Kayser Black Cat Wine


Pam’s Pictorama Post: Frankly this was another case of not reading the listing carefully. I had envisioned this to be less than a quarter of it’s almost 30 inches! I had a clear image of a Mossbacher tin cup I own, and had somehow put these things together. Interesting how the collecting mind works.

Having said that – what cat collector could resist this great black cat advertising image? It is a wine company and they, obviously, sell Black Cat Wine. I assume that a (very large) bottle of wine was tucked in this glorious tin as a gift offering. The lucky cat collector indeed who invited that person over for dinner.

In my search for information about why a black cat was used by the company, I only turned up a bit of advertising from New York Magazine, dated December 20, 1971. It tells this story: Mrs. Kayser has burned the breakfast toast black and Mr. Kayser roars, “The toast is black!” Meanwhile, son Julius the wine maker, nose buried in the Traben Trarbach Gazette, absently passes his father a glass of black-cat-in-the-cellar or Schwarze Katz and we are to assume the black cat logo was born. Or Madison Avenue execs of the 1970’s wanted us to believe. Hmmm, anyway, that’s as close as I could come.

I am not sure what use I will put this item to, although this apartment can always use a place to stash this or that and a black cat tin will always be welcome.

Post Script: I rarely get an opportunity for such an interesting update so quickly, but a FB friend, Ryek Hvek, gave me the key to more interesting information. According to him, the wine was named when a black cat jumped onto one of three barrels of wine and assumed the pose while a customer was choosing among the barrels. He also directed me to the images below – a statue of the cat in question in Zell, erected about 80 years ago, and one of the black plastic cat figures that came on the bottle of wine. (My brother in-law says that his mom, Marie, a well-known cat lover, used to be partial to it.) Lastly, also a cat stamp from the town in keeping with the theme. Let’s all book a trip to Germany to worship at the altar of the cat statue and drink wine – I’m up for it!