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.
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!
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!
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.