COLLECTING: magazines

Alice Austen in LIFE Magazine, 1951

Just a few months before she died, Alice Austen made her second appearance in LIFE Magazine.

Alice Austen Day Life Magazine
Alice Austen Day. Life Magazine, October 29, 1951

"Alice Austen, America's first great woman photographer, had been rescued from the poorhouse and oblivion by the sale of her superb collections of pictures (LIFE, Sept. 24). But until this month the 85-year-old artist had never had a public showing of her work. On Oct. 7, however, the Staten Island Historical Society, custodian of her photographs, celebrated "Alice Austen Day". More than 300 of Miss Austen's old and new friends crowded into the museum to look at her pictures and say hello to her once more. Miss Austen herself was an hour late. Worn out by a television appearance two days earlier, she at first refused to come. But her friends convinced her that she would enjoy herself, and enjoy herself she did. There were speeches and orchids and gifts and refreshments, but above all, there were friends. Some, like Mrs. Charles Barton had posed for her in the old days on Staten Island. Others, like Coapes Brinley of the Staten Island Historical Society, helped win recognition for her work. Miss Gertrude Tate, her closest friend, had lived with her for 27 years at the Austen home until the two ladies lost their money and the home was sold.

The old lady in the wheelchair knew how to get the most out of every moment, although she mostly wept when Mrs. Barton bent over to kiss her hand. As the newspaper and magazine cameras recorded the afternoon, Photographer Alice Austen said proudly, "I'd be taking those pictures myself if I were 100 years younger." When the pictures and the refreshments were over, she went back to the private nursing home where she now lives, a little tired by the festivities but glad that she had lived to see Alice Austen Day."

Alice Austen and trude in LIFE MAG 1951
Alice and Trude, now Mrs. Charles Barton, donned corset covers and petticoats and posed for this wicked picture taken 60 years ago on Staten Island. Alice Austen, LIFE Magazine 1951


Alice Austen, Deeply Moved Mrs. Barton, LIFE Magazine 1951
Deeply Moved, Alice Austen bites her lips as old friend Mrs. Barton impulsively kisses her hand. Mrs. Barton now lives in New Jersey but visits Alice often.


Alice Austen and Gertrude Tate, 1951, LIFE Magazine
HIGHLY PLEASED, Alice Austen beams up at Gertrude Tate, who lived in Austen home, took trips to Europe with her, nursed her during arthritis attacks.

For more on Alice Austen see HERE  and also visit the Alice Austen House Museum Website

Heinz ads from 1925, fun reproductions now available.

Did you know that Heinz used to make peanut butter? I didn't until I ran across this series of ads in The Saturday Evening Post from 1925. I bought a stack of the old magazines years ago and made copies of the ads. I've reproduced them, full size, and had Silver Maple Editions in Burlington  fine-art laminate them on high density wood. You can buy them at my online store.

Heinz peanut butter  saturday evening post 1925, Heinz Peanut butter. 1925. Ready to hang.

heinz peanut butter ad 1925 saturday evening post detailHeinz Peanut Butter, ad, Saturday Evening Post, detail

Heinz baked beans ad 1925 Saturday Evening Post Heinz Baked Beans, 1925 ad. Saturday Evening Post

heinz oven baked beans ad 1925 Saturday Evening Post detaildetail, heinz baked beans

Heinz pure cider vinegar saturday evening post 1925 small equals     Heinz Cider Vinegar, 1925 Saturday Evening Post. 

Heinz cider vinegar ad 1925 Saturday evening post, detail  detail, Heinz Cider Vinegar.

These are all available in very limited quantities  at the Small Equals online store. HERE

Four Color Process: the inner world of dots and comic books


Comic Book, detail. Four Color Process. From a blog by Half Man Half Static

My regular readers know I've been a bit obsessed with making and or blogging about large scale reproductions of fragments from printed ephemera, particularly chromolithography, stone lithography and other early to mid 20th Century color-print processes.


Needle girl face detail. Cowan ephemera collections

Mid 20th Century Needle book. Detail. Liza Cowan ephemera collections.

I recently discovered the blog 4CP (four color process) by John Hilgart, the blogger known as   HM/HS Half Man Half-Static, A Curator of lost items. (Great name, by the way.) HM/HS writes in an early early essay In Defense Of Dots: The lost Art Of Comic Books: 

"Who is responsible for this art? At the level of a square inch of printed comic book, no one was the creative lead. 4CP highlights the work of arbitrary collectives that merged art and commerce, intent and accident, human and machine. A proper credit for each image would include the scriptwriter, the penciller, the inker, the color designer, the paper buyer, the print production supervisor, and the serial number of the press. Credit is due to all of them, to differing and unknowable degrees, for every square inch of every old comic. The hand of fate created this art, and it guides our hand as we search for 4CP images: We move a tiny Ouija board pointer across mid-Century comic books, looking for beautiful ghosts."

4cp.posterous from
Comic Book, detail. Four Color process. From

Jello, door handle, chromolithograph, recipe, dots, enlargement, liza cowan ephemera collections,

Jell-O booklet. Chromolithography. Detail. Liza Cowan ephemera collections. 

"However, in the decisive, paradoxical twist, four-color process created a form of depth even as it fought against illustrative realism. Whereas contemporary reproductions of mid-century comic art are truly closed and flat, old comic books are visually leaky and deep. Four-color dots perforate the flat surface of the universe, opening onto nowhere – some uncharted cosmos."


Comic Book, detail, enlarged 4 color process, dots,
Detail of Comic, 4 Color Process, from


snapdragon seed pack, stone ligthograph, detail, pink, flower, abstract flower, detail,, liza cowan ephemera collectiosn
Early 20th Century seed packet, stone lithograph. Liza Cowan ephemera collections


windows, comic book, 4 color process, dots,
Comic book detail, four color process, from

Read the whole essay HERE and make sure to spend some time in the 4cp archive for amazing images and really well thought out and well written articles. 

Paint by number: anonymous work from mid-20th century America

Paint By Number, the craze of the 1950's, swept the nation in the era of Eisenhower, Levittown, post war prosperity and a post war concept of leisure time.


 Paint by number, paris in the rain
Paint By Number, Paris In The Rain

Most of the Paint By Number sets of the fifties and early sixties depicted nostalgic scenes, historic and pastoral landscapes, adorable or noble animals, sentimental glimpses of "exotic" cultures as well as copies from the canon of romanticized European figurative art. Critics at the time were disgusted with the mechanized mass produced nostalgia.

 Paint by number mona lisa
Paint By Number, Mona Lisa

But now, with our vantage point from the 21st Century, these vernacular, anonymous painting have acquired the patina of age and distance. Have they have acquired the aura that Walter Benjamin wrote about in his famous  1935 essay  "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Or are we just  nostalgic for the more innocent nostalgia of the 50's. Are we caught up in second or third order nostalgia. Probably both.

 Paint by number craftint color set original box
Paint By Number, original box, Craftint color set. Photo Liza Cowan


In August 2007, Pine Street Art Works held an exhibition of over 100 Paint By Number paintings. It took months to acquire them, mostly on eBay. In addition to enjoying the paintings, I was fascinated by the subversive allure - the tension created between the pleasure of viewing the work, and the original and ongoing horrified responses by the gatekeepers of High Culture.

 Paint by number, exhibition postcard, norman rockwell clown, design by liza cowan
Paint By Number, Exhibition at Pine Street Art Works. Postcard design Liza Cowan. Paint by Number set based on a painting  by Norman Rockwell.

Although Paint By Number has been the subject of a show at the Smithsonian (as well as here at PSAW) and show up regularly in design magazines and blogs, there is still the vacillating response: are we allowed the pleasure we get from looking at, or making, these paintings?

 Paint by number mad magazine sept 1958
Mad Magazine, September 1958, spoofed the craze with a PBN of Alfred E. Newman. PSAW ephemera collections.


 Paint by number farm by river
Paint By Number, Farm By The River.


 Paint by number, bull fight, torreador, red cape
Paint By Number, Bullfighter


 Paint by number exhibit pine street art works
Paint By Number exhibition at Pine Street Art Works. August 2007

All the paintings in this post were in the 2007 exhibit. All are sold.

Paint by number as seen on seesaw



Photoplay movie stars from the 1950'S

I recently came into a rather large stash of Photoplay Magazines from the 1950's.  I have them for sale at Pine Street Art Works for five bucks apiece but since most of my readers don't live nearby, here's some eye candy for you.

  Doris Day, Photoplay Magazine Oct 1955
Doris Day, Photoplay Magazine Oct. 1955

 Jane Powell, April 1952, Photoplay Magazine
Jane Powell, April 1952, Photoplay Magazine

 Ann Blyth, Jan 1956 Photoplay Magazine
Ann Blyth, January 1956, Photoplay Magazine

 Esther Williams, August1952, photoplay magazine
Esther Williams, August 1952 Photoplay Magazine

 Jane Powell, july 1955, Photoplay Magazine
Jane Powell, July 1955, Photoplay Magazine

 Betty Grable, July 1952, Photoplay Magazine
Betty Grable, July 1952, Photoplay Magazine.

 Grace Kelly, April 1956, Photoplay Magazine
Grace Kelly, April 1956, Photoplay Magazine

 Grace kelly, a prince catches a star 1956 photoplay magazine
Grace Kelly, A Prince Catches A Star, Photoplay Magazine 1956

Your comments are always welcome.


I was showing a customer the two  Rea Irvin magazine covers that I have in the shop and it dawned on me that you might be interested in seeing them too. Irvin was an American artist and art director, best know as the first art director of The New Yorker. He also worked as an illustrator at the original Life magazine (not the later version).

Small rhea irvin small

Rea Irvin, Life, August 10, 1922. The Japanese American Number


Rhea irvin new yorker metrosexual cowan ephemera collections small

Rea Irvin, The New Yorker, Oct 15, 1938.

The cover is too big for my scanner so a bit got cut off. Hope you enjoyed these.

Update: Thanks to  Pollux for sending a link to Emily Gordon's article about Rea Irvin.   Emdashes,- The New Yorker Between The Lines is Emily's blog where Pollux is a writer  and cartoonist. The blog is a great read and a must for all things New Yorker.