The Chocolate Girl; or, The maid who became a princess

June 22, 2009

 The Chocolate Girl (known also as La Belle Chocolatière, or Das Schokoladenmädchen) is one of the most famous works by the Swiss artist, Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-1789), and depicts a pretty maid serving a tray of hot chocolate.

An 1840s engraving of Liotard's Chocolate Girl by A. H. Payne

The Chocolate Girl: an engraving by A. H. Payne, c. 1840

The charming story behind the commission of the painting reads like a romantic fairy-tale. It is thought that the girl in the picture, Anna Baltauf, lived in Vienna and worked as a server in one of the chocolate shops which had become hugely popular throughout Europe during the 18th century.  As the daughter of an impoverished Viennese knight, she had little chance of good marriage, however in the summer of 1745, a young Austrian nobleman named Prince Dietrichstein visited the shop. He fell in love with Anna and asked her to marry him, despite his family’s objections, and so the chocolate girl became a princess. As a wedding present to his bride, the prince commissioned the portrait from Liotard, an artist of the Viennese court. Anna is shown in the maid’s costume she was wearing when her future husband first saw her.

The Chocolate Girl by Jean-Etienne Liotard

Das Schokoladenmädchen: the original portrait by Jean-Etienne Liotard

It is impossible to say just how much truth there is to this tale, however it is certain that in 1881 Henry L. Pierce, then president of the Walter Baker chocolate company, visited the painting in the Dresden Art Gallery and was captivated by it and by Anna’s story.  He immediately registered La Belle Chocolatière as one of the first US trademarks and the image has graced the company’s boxes and packaging ever since. The original portrait of Princess Dietrichstein, the Chocolate Girl, still hangs in the Dresden gallery, where it remains one of the museum’s most popular attractions. – Ken Gibb

Images:
The chocolate girl. John Johnson Shelfmark: Cocoa, Chocolate and Confectionery 5 (54)
(ProQuest durable URL)

Copyright  © 2009 Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Reproduced with the permission of ProQuest. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Comments are welcome for sharing with other users, but regrettably the editors of Curators’ Choice are not necessarily able to respond to enquiries.

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Momotarō: ‘Peach-Boy’.

June 8, 2009

At first glance, these matchbox labels may transport the inexperienced phillumenist instantly to childhood memories of Roald Dahl’s ‘James and the giant peach’. On further inspection, however, the characters illustrated in these Japanese wood blocks reveal a more obscure origin.

Old man & womanThe story of Momotarō, although largely unfamiliar in the West, is a well known and loved Japanese folk-tale. Momotarō (often directly translated as ‘Peach Boy’) was the miracle child of an elderly couple who had not been favoured with the good fortune of having their own children.

Whilst washing clothes in the river one day, the old woman heard muffled cries coming from inside a giant peach which she had found floating downstream. She had pulled the peach out  of the water with the idea of sharing it with her husband for lunch. On breaking open the peach, she found Momotarō in the middle and claimed him as her own son. The old couple was very happy finally to have a child of their own and lavished upon the boy love, attention, and a good education.Momotaro

When Momotarō reached the age of about 15, filled with a love of his country, and desirous of an adventure, he set off on a quest to rid Japan of the ogres which had been plaguing the Japanese people for a number of years. On his travels he befriended a monkey, a dog, and a pheasant, all of which joined him on his quest. When the party reached the Island of Ogres, between them, Momotarō and his friends managed to outwit and destroy each and every ogre. They returned home triumphant, carrying many riches and precious jewels. By ridding the land of ogres, Momotarō and his animal companions not only released the Japanese people from the terror of ogres, but also became very rich and famous. Momotarō and his parents lived happily ever after.

Matchbox labels are eminently collectible today, and there are numerous websites and exhibitions which display fabulous collections ranging in subject from World War II propaganda to portraits of famous actors and actresses. The Japanese matchbox industry started somewhat slowly, as the local market was hindered by suspicions that matches were Christian magic. Once established, however, Japan soon became one of the leading manufacturers of matches, and arguably amongst the most interesting in terms of design and production of the labels.  Those illustrated here were produced in Japan from 1876 to about 1890, using traditional woodblock printing techniques.Triumphant – Elizabeth Mathew

Reference: Japanese prints: Japanese matchbox labels: Ramat-Gan, The Yechiel Nahari Museum of Far Eastern Art, 2005.

Images:

Carrying the peach. John Johnson Shelfmark: Labels 12 (83a) Proquest durable URL

Emerging from the peach. John Johnson Shelfmark: Labels 12 (83c) Proquest durable URL

Lifting the peach. John Johnson Shelfmark: Labels 12 (83b) Proquest durable URL

Copyright © 2009 Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Reproduced with the permission of ProQuest. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Comments are welcome for sharing with other users, but regrettably the editors of Curators’ Choice are not necessarily able to respond to enquiries.


Evenden’s Digestive Ginger Candy for indigestion, spasms, flatulence, &c.

May 22, 2009

The majority of items that the conservators are repairing for the project are paper based. This particular item is a little more unusual in that the print on paper, with a decorative paper border, is adhered to a wooden board. It may possibly have been the lid to a box.

Before conservation

Before conservation

As can be seen in the first image, the board was found to be broken into two parts. To make it easier to handle during the scanning process and to preserve it for the future, the item was repaired.

First, the paper along the split edges was lifted 1cm away from the board using spatulas and a scalpel.

 Meanwhile, over a gentle heat, 2gsms of leaf gelatine was dissolved in 50 mls of reverse osmosis water.

 The gelatine was applied with a fine brush along the broken edges and the two parts brought together. It was then clamped and left to dry.

During conservation

During conservation

To make the joint stronger, small splints of parchment were placed along the joint on both sides of the object. The edges of the splints were pared so that they were unobtrusive and they were adhered to the wooden surface with gelatine. Parchment was selected because as the splints dried they tightened.

After the splints had dried, the lifted paper was pasted back down over the parchment splints using wheat starch paste as the adhesive.

After conservation

After conservation

This work was undertaken by a trained conservator. – Julia Bearman

Evenden’s Digestive Ginger Candy for indigestion, spasms, flatulence, &c.  John Johnson Shelfmark: Patent Medicines 3 (7)

Copyright  © 2009 Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Reproduced with the permission of ProQuest. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Comments are welcome for sharing with other users, but regrettably the editors of Curators’ Choice are not necessarily able to respond to enquiries.


Exporting to the Empire: labels of the British cotton trade

April 30, 2009
A bolt label destined for the Indian market

A cotton label destined for the Indian market

The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera holds many thousands of rare advertising labels representing every imaginable product. Among the most visually striking are these chromolithographed labels produced by British companies for the export of cotton cloth.

Cotton as a commodity was of great importance to the British Empire of the 19th and early 20th centuries; the cotton industry had experienced massive expansion during the Industrial Revolution and by the mid-1830s cotton textiles accounted for more than the half the total value of all British foreign exports.

"East meets West" was a popular theme among sellers

"East meets West" was a popular theme for exporters

Raw cotton was brought to mills in Scotland and the North West where it was processed into bolts and bales of cloth. Before leaving the mills each bolt was stamped with the mark of the exporter and a colourfully-decorated paper label was often added. These labels, also referred to as tickets, were attached to the ends of the bolts and acted as trade marks, identifying a particular mill or producer’s product in the marketplace. They were designed to be visually appealling to the cloth buyer and individual labels were often created to target a specific market. Bright, colourful designs were instrumental in selling British cotton to far-off markets in India, Africa, China and Japan.

As bale and bolt labels were supposed to catch the eye of the shopper, they often employed local scenes or symbols which would be familiar to intended buyers. The example below is one of many produced for the Indian market which show scenes of the state visit by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, in 1875-6. Edward returned from India with four Asian elephants for London Zoo.

A delightful label of 1901-1910

"For the King": a delightful label from the early 1900s

One of the earliest references to the labelling of cloth is mentioned in Wadsworth and De Lacy Mann’s The cotton trade and industrial Lancashire 1600-1780. Describing the textile trade with Africa in the late 17th century, the authors talk of fabric “packed in a stiff paper cover with a gaudy picture of an elephant , the device of the Royal Africa Company on the outside.” The gaudy elephant is probably an early version of the bale label, not too different from the one shown here. – Ken Gibb

Images:
Indian prince. John Johnson Shelfmark: Labels 17 (8) (ProQuest durable URL)

Rug merchant. John Johnson Shelfmark: Labels 17 (28) (ProQuest durable URL)

Elephant. John Johnson Shelfmark: Labels 17 (10) (ProQuest durable URL)

Copyright  © 2009 Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Reproduced with the permission of ProQuest. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Comments are welcome for sharing with other users, but regrettably the editors of Curators’ Choice are not necessarily able to respond to enquiries.


Fruit crate labels

January 21, 2009
The fruit crate label is one of the most vibrant and iconic examples of American advertising art and is closely linked to the development of lithographic printing in the United States. 
A 1920s peaches label

A 1920s peaches label

Crate labels originated in California in the late 19th century, when completion of the transcontinental railroads had made coast-to-coast shipping of fruit and vegetables possible for the first time.

Jazz Brand fruit label

Jazz Brand fruit label

As the produce was transported in wooden crates, labels were necessary to identify the contents and place of origin, as well as to attract the eye of potential buyers. In East Coast fruit markets and auctions halls these labels quickly became the growers’ most important advertising device and the more vivid and attractive the illustration, the more effective it could be.

Between the 1880s and the 1950s, millions of crate labels were produced for fruit and vegetable growers. Countless designs were printed by immigrant German lithographers who brought their skills to the United States.  As the fruit trade grew, so the fledgling lithographic industry grew with it.

Crate art reflects American social and political history through the years. Early images of luscious fruit and local orchards were replaced with illustrations encompassing nearly every theme imaginable, from the Old West, Gold Rush and dramatic landscapes to politics, music, children and beautiful women.

Crate label for Polkodot Brand citrus fruit

Crate label for Polkodot Brand citrus fruit

Paper labelling ended abruptly in the mid 1950s, when advances in packaging technology produced the more economical preprinted cardboard box. Large quantities of labels remained unused in packing sheds and printing houses, and these have formed the basis of a thriving collectors’ market. – Ken Gibb

Georgia peaches. John Johnson Shelfmark: Labels 11 (5) (ProQuest durable URL)
Jazz brand. John Johnson Shelfmark: Labels 11 (35) (ProQuest durable URL)
Polkodot brand. John Johnson Shelfmark: Labels 11 (22) (ProQuest durable URL)

Copyright  © 2009 Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Reproduced with the permission of ProQuest. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Comments are welcome for sharing with other users, but regrettably the editors of Curators’ Choice are not necessarily able to respond to enquiries.