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PALMER COX (1840-1924) "They sung both high and low, the same / As fancy led or courage came . . ."
Illustration for the story "The Brownies' Singing School" as published in The Brownies: Their Book (New York: The Century, 1887), page 124. Pen and ink on stiff paper mounted to card. 210x190 mm; 8 1/4x7 1/2 inches, image, on 12 1/4x9-inch mount. Signed "Palmer Cox" in lower left, captioned with the story title and "Pitching their voices" 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. The full caption printed in the book continues: "Some droned the tune through teeth of nose, Some piped like quail, or cawed like crows / That, hungry, wait the noonday horn / To call the farmer from his corn."
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.