“Prepared to Give this Farmer Aid / With Basket, Barrel, Hook, and Spade”
New York: 1887. Pen and ink on stiff paper, image measuring 9.5 x 7.5 inches, mounted to original card measuring 12.75 x 9.5 inches. Signed in lower right image, abbreviated caption “Continue to aid the Farmer” and notes to printer penciled in lower margin of mount, verso with The Century Co. stamp. Mount toned, outer margins with old cellotape marks and small marginal chips. Laid into contemporary protective paper folder.
Original illustration for the story “The Brownies’ Good Work” as published in Palmer Cox’s 1887 collection The Brownies: Their Book. This dynamic image shows the eager Brownies jumping in to help an injured farmer tend to his fields. The full published caption reads: “To-morrow eve, at that dark hour / When birds grow still in leafy bower / And bats forsake the ruined pile / To exercise their wings awhile, / In yonder shady grove we’ll meet, / With all our active force complete, / Prepared to give this farmer aid / With basket, barrel, hook, and spade.” Cox’s beloved Brownies inspired a long series of bestselling children’s books; their adventures were serialized in St. Nicholas and Ladies’ Home Journal, and adapted for a Sunday comic strip. In addition, Cox licensed the Brownies to promote all kinds of merchandise, including Kodak’s wildly popular Brownie camera, the first mass-produced portable camera, which popularized home photography. The drawings for The Brownies: Their Book are considered among Cox’s best, and predate the stereotypical ethnic Brownies which would appear in his later titles. A detailed and highly amusing illustration, created at the height of Cox’s talent.