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PALMER COX (1840-1924) "But we, who laugh at locks or law / Designed to keep mankind in awe . . ."
Illustration for the story "The Brownies at Lawn-Tennis" as published in The Brownies: Their Book (New York: The Century, 1887), page 26. Pen and ink on stiff paper mounted to card. 233x190 mm; 9 1/4x7 1/2 inches, image, on 13x10-inch mount. Signed "Palmer Cox" in lower left, captioned with the story title and "In the park" with notes to printer on mounting card recto, verso with The Century Co. stamp.
A charming illustration from the first volume of Cox's popular "Brownies" series, showing the Brownies determined to raid the pagoda shed which houses the desired tennis equipment. The full caption printed in the book reads: "But we, who laugh at locks or law / Designed to keep mankind in awe, May praise the keeper's cautious mind, But all the same an entrance find."
Palmer Cox's Brownies were the Smurfs of their day. Not only were they the source for a long line of best-selling children's books but their Canadian-born creator widely licensed them for all kinds of merchandise. Even Kodak's Brownie Camera was named for them. The stories and pictures were serialized in St. Nicholas and Ladies' Home Journal and adapted as Sunday comic strip. At least two plays were based on the popular characters. Arguably Cox drew his best pictures for this work, the original The Brownies, Their Book. Cox had not yet developed the vast cast of ethnic Brownies, but the Irishman and The Dude can be spotted among the predominately Scottish band of fairies in these early drawings.