Saturday, 3 July 2021

Katoomba Copies

In some previous posts I've shown how McGill's cards produced for the publishers E.S. were copied by another publishing company - E.L.P. Co - in the early 1900s.

I have come across another instance of this happening much later and on a different continent. Green's Souvenirs of Katoomba, New South Wales in Australia have copied several of McGill's cards - having them redrawn with some slight variations by an unknown artist. 

Inter-Art and Constance originals have been used but in what seems a random selection. I have no idea how many they produced but these are the five examples I've found so far. I'm guessing they date from the 1950s as none of them are postmarked.

Greens G39
Constance 689

Greens G41
Inter-Art 7858

Greens G43
Inter-Art 7651

Greens G44

Constance 428

Greens G48

Constance 1038

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

My word - if you're not off

This card must have been alarmingly risque when it was first published!

I think the first version is the one published by E.S. London probably in 1907. It is signed by McGill and has the caption written in lower case on the bottom left side of the card.

E.S. 3110

The next version was probably published the following year, 1908, by Hutson Bros. It is exactly the same image (except the lady's shoe is missing), again signed (but in a slightly different position) but the caption is now all in block capitals and written across the bottom of the card (without the exclamation  marks but with apostrophes instead!!)
H.B.Series No. 638

The final version is of unknown date and publisher. It is a copy of the H.B. version with a few very minor variations in the image. However the main differences are that it is not signed and there is additional writing  - "All the fun of the Fair" has been added although the "My word..." text is the same but in a different font and printed in a slightly different position.

Unknown publisher

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Not necessarily McGill

Sometimes you have to take a guess about a card as to whether it was drawn by McGill or not because many of his designs were unsigned.

Once you 'get your eye in' to McGill's style it can be relatively straightforward to spot one of his cards but his style did vary, especially in his early works, and these can be more difficult to recognise.

One short cut to identifying his work is to go by the publisher of the card but even that can be confusing. Although McGill worked for many different publishers in his career he is mostly identified with three - Joseph Asher & Co., Inter-Art Co. and D.Constance Ltd. (You could also add the Woolstone Bros. 'Milton' cards but these were reprints of Inter-Art Co. designs.) 

Some people who do not know McGill very well often presume that if the card is by one of these publishers and is unsigned then it must be a McGill. That is definitely not the case. It is very common to see cards misidentified in this way, take a look at some of the cards offered on eBay for a start.

Yes, the majority of the cards by these three companies were by McGill but they also issued cards by other designers and if they are unsigned too it can make identification difficult. Joseph Asher & Co., for example, published cards by E.Chandler (quite a lot by him), Syd, Will Adams, Reg Carter and Jacobus some of which were unsigned.

Three examples of non-McGill cards from Joseph Asher & Co.
E.Chandler  -  Syd  -  Unknown Artist

The Inter-Art Co., produced thousands of cards by many different artists. However most of McGill's were part of the 'Comique' series except for most of his 1914-18 War cards which were issued under assorted series headings and a few under the 'Artistique' heading. To make things really difficult a huge number of the 'Comique' series of cards were published without an artist's signature. Identifying these can be just a 'gut' reaction to the style!

One other artist who drew for Inter-Art Co. was Dudley Buxton whose cards are regularly misidentified as being by McGill. This is understandable in many cases because their styles were very similar although Buxton tended to draw his characters faces in a much more exaggerated and 'cartoon-y' way than McGill. I have bought some cards which at first I thought were McGill but as time has gone on I am not so sure or in some cases I am now certain they are actually by Buxton. 

Three examples of Dudley Buxton cards

Fred Spurgin (a very prolific artist) and Phil Martin also drew for Inter-Art Co. and their designs can sometimes be similar in style to McGill.

D.Constance Ltd. was pretty much set up to publish McGill's cards which they did from the mid-1930s through to the 1960s. But even this company had other artists working for them. There are definitely cards under the Constance 'New Donald McGill Comics' imprint by Stocker Shaw and another unidentified artist. I'd be interested to know if there are any others during this time frame.

Three examples of Stocker Shaw cards published by D.Constance Ltd.

So, there is no sure fire way of identifying McGill cards if they are not signed. In some cases you can only take an informed guess. I'm sure there are cards out there that haven't been spotted as being by McGill because they are in a slightly different style to his 'usual' output.

Monday, 28 December 2020

Look what two days have done

As well as XL producing alternate captions on cards there are also a number of cards published by D Constance Ltd., that do this too. Here's one of them (quite an early one) ...

D.Constance Ltd., No. 43
Postmarked 1936

D.Constance Ltd., No. R 43
Postmarked 1937

Seeing things

 Another XL Series example of different captions ...

XL 2070

XL 2070 A
Postmarked 1946

I like work - but not much

Some of McGill's cards were also published in the US under the 'Bamforth' name as part of the deal between the UK Bamforth company and McGill's publisher, Inter-Art Co. Sometimes with alternate captions as this example shows. This raises the question as to who made the decision to change the wording?

Inter-Art Comique No. 5641
Postmarked 1929

Bamforth Vacation Comics No. 1585

I like work but not this week

As I mentioned in a much earlier post the XL Series of cards published by Wilson Bros. have a high proportion of cards that have more than one caption. Here is another one ...

XL 2051
Postmarked 1933

XL A 2051
postmarked 1933