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Author Topic:   Palmer Cox Brownies
Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 09-22-2000 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the early 1880s, Canadian author Palmer Cox created a group of children's characters called "The Brownies," who were based on Scottish folklore. Originally published in the Century Magazine, Brownie stories eventually came out in book form, and became such popular characters that they created the first "merchandising craze," a precursor to more modern examples such as Disney characters and the ubiquitous Simpsons. Brownie objects, beginning in the late 1880s, appeared in virtually every form, from simple cut-and-sew cloth dolls to andirons.

In addition, there was flatware (there is a reason I posted this in a silver forum; I thought some people may be interested in the history behind the characters). The most common Brownie flatware is silverplated and it usually shows about three different Brownies on the handle in different poses. However, certain sterling manufacturers including Gorham and Frank Whiting made spoons (I haven't seen any other forms yet) with enameled Brownies. The spoon is in fact quite small, at only 3", even smaller than the typical demitasse spoon, so I'm not sure if this is some sort of child-size spoon. Does anybody know exactly how many different Brownie spoons Gorham made?

Paul

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 04-28-2001).]

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 09-22-2000 09:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great piece; I will keep an eye out for others.

Gorham seems to have exploited the children's market a lot more than Tiffany, and to have used enamels a lot more often. I recently saw a gorgeous Gorham child's fork with a great enamelled Little Bo-Peep. If the enamelling wasn't so damaged I would have bought it!

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 04-23-2009 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a terrific writer and artist. Palmer Cox's children's school curriculum's look like they would be ideal even for today. They promote education and citizenship and are entertaining all at the same time.

What a great display an early Brownie book and spoon would make too.

I'll have to see about finding both. The spoons for me and the books for my five year old grandson who loves video games and at the same time cannot stop reading. He'll still be reading at 10:30 at night if his parents do not take the book from him, and he reads anything that crosses his path. The Brownie books would be perfect for him.

[This message has been edited by bascall (edited 04-23-2009).]

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dragonflywink

Posts: 975
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 04-23-2009 05:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a weakness for the Brownies and other Palmer Cox books, one of my favorites is the 1888 Queer People with Wings and Stings and Their Kweer Kapers, stories featuring birds and bugs (wonderful illustrations). And there was an elaborate mid-1890s three-act play about the Brownies rescuing the Fairy Queen Titania, betrothed of the Brownie Prince Florimel, kidnapped before her May Day wedding by a scary villain named Dragonfel, it's filled with characters from fairy tales and Roman mythology.

Have always wanted a Brownie souvenir spoon for my collection and recently acquired a small 3-3/4" Gorham demitasse featuring the Dude (J. Chappie Goodforme) - have not been able to find any information concerning the design, but feel safe in dating it to the 1890s, a Brownie collector tells me that it was also produced with the Policeman and Chinaman. I've seen several other Brownie spoons, including a number of rather lightweight pieces with twist stems, both enameled and plain, marked only "STERLING". There were two patented designs, one from 1893 for the Columbian Exposition featuring Brownies ("grotesque Lilliputian human figures") on a Ferris Wheel, designed by Ulysses Racine and assigned to Watson, Newell; the other, from 1894, which I've always called the Pile-O-Brownies, was designed by Henry J. Robinson and assigned to Rieman & Dawson, both of Washington, D.C. Rainwater notes that this spoon was manufactured by Gorham exclusive to Wm. Kendrick's Sons in Louisville, but an 1894 ad shows a slightly simpler design (but still matching the patent description), and have seen both of the variations.

As Paul mentioned, there were many silverplate versions, many of these also seem to have been unmarked, suspect that they were often used as premiums. Have also seen several other silverplate pieces, charms, cups, napkin rings (both figural and stamped), etc. Cox was very clever in licensing and marketing his characters, but there was huge production of items of varying quality that were not designed or approved by him, not to mention the use in ads and packaging.

bascall - have a small print of the Brownies at a Maypole, intending to use it in a small shadowbox with the spoon (great minds).

~Cheryl



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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 04-23-2009 06:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cheryl, thanks for posting those images!

I have had several of the twisted-handle, Brownie-finial spoons you mention. Very lightweight and poor quality, and the Brownies seemed pretty clumsily rendered. One I had was even silverplate--as far as spoons go, that must have been the cheapest of the cheap.

Will try to post photographs of some of the silver Brownie items I've had in the past later tonight, if I can find the disc with the photos.

Unger Bros. made a stunning wax seal, it was a 3-dimensional sterling Brownie head with red cabochon eyes. Have only seen this piece once, on eBay several years ago, and unfortunately I didn't save a picture for future reference.

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doc

Posts: 712
Registered: Jul 2003

iconnumber posted 04-23-2009 06:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Both the author and the spoons are new to me, but I will be on the hunt now! What fun!

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Paul S

Posts: 32
Registered: Dec 2000

iconnumber posted 04-28-2009 11:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul S     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know much about it but this is a Browinie spoon I had a while back. I have no idea who the maker is, it is only marked sterling and monogrammed "ALFRED 1894" He a little enamel left on his belt, I don't know if there would have been more.

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 04-28-2009 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's the spoon I want. Wow!

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Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 04-30-2009 01:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is an old thread with a couple of Brownies. Unusual youth silver

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 04-30-2009 01:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Richard! I have to go back to Paul S' little spoon. All that expression on that one little fellows face is just amazing.

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Richard Kurtzman
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Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 08-21-2010 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's another little, 3 3/4 inches, enamel Brownie spoon. He's holding his cap in his right hand.
He looks a lot like the Brownie in the upper left corner of the above WM. KENDRICK'S SONS ad.

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Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 08-24-2010 11:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another Brownie spoon.

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Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 01-17-2012 11:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another Brownie piece:
An uncommon sterling and MOP whistle and rattle.

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-18-2012 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That definitely belongs in the Great Faces thread.

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Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 01-18-2012 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yet another Brownie. This time from a Daniel Low catalog. Anyone have others?

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Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 01-18-2012 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Brownies are breeding.
Here's a seal.

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