Dec 5, 2012

Let's Play With Brownies...

Hello...Well, all of the "Funnies" here in FunTown are so busy bustling about...Christmas shopping, decorating, hiding presents and baking tasty holiday treats...etc. So I decided to share with you my love of "Palmer Cox's Brownies."

Yesterday...I had a pleasant surprise, when the postman delivered a parcel from my dear friend, Paul Gordon...Yes, he is "that Paul Gordon", the famous folk artist. He mailed me this charming old Brownie matchbox. Imagine my delight, as I am quite the Brownie Enthusiast...and a grateful friend.

So, last evening Paul and I had long telephone conversation and for the most part we were talking about the history of "The Brownies" let's go to "Smarty-Arty's Library" in FunTown and I will share some of the details with all of you...and many snapshots also. Follow me...

I first became aware of these charming little fellows when my Mother brought them to my attention when I was young.

The writer/illustrator Palmer Cox was born in Quebec in 1840. While growing up his family shared the very old Celtic folk tales of Brownies...little pixie-like creatures who did good deeds and only came out at night for their adventures.

Mr. Cox emigrated to the U.S. as a young man...he took art classes and ended up in New York City getting published in newspapers and magazines. In 1885 he began his Brownie adventures...he applied the legends from his childhood and interpreted them in a contemporary setting.

His illustrations soon became famous with the children...Mr. Cox became the grandfather of the comic characters. Up until then there were no pictures to entertain the young readers.

New York was a melting pot at the end of the 19th his fellows are a reflection of the times that he lived. There is an American Indian, a Dutchman, a Chinese man, a Russian, a Scottish Highlander and on and on...also there is a bellhop, a sailor, a constable,  a jockey a "Dude" and an Uncle Sam. Plus a cast of thousands. When I say "fellows"...there are no girl Brownies...also a reflection of the times.

His Brownies, like the legendary ones come out only at night to do good deeds...but they were modern. They rode bicycles, went swimming, sledding, boating, fishing...etc. All while wearing fashionable hats.

Yes, that's right...The famous Brownie camera is named after Palmer Cox's Brownies. they had become so popular over the years that when Kodak designed a camera that was simple to operate. So easy that even a child could use it. So they capitalized on the fame of the Brownies to market it to children.

Yet another interesting tid-bit...Many businesses at that time wanted to capitalize on their popularity. Palmer Cox was the first artist to protect his property so he licensed his images...only with his permission and he received royalties. These figures above are wired together and the first of his licensed products.

This fellow resides here in FunTown...and he whispered in my ear that he was thrilled to be highlighted in this post. I hope that it doesn't go to his head.

There are nodders...they cost a pretty penny...

Porcelain...look at the intense.

Children's Hankies...

Pre-printed fabric so that you could sew together and make a doll at your own home...

He wrote many other books also...

I have made them myself...They are great little dancers.

I do believe we should call it a day as I don't want to bore all of you. Mr. Cox passed away in 1924. What a legacy he left for generations to enjoy...I for very grateful for all of his happy little friends that he shared with us.

Have silly "I think Brownies are fun" fun,   Jody, an ardent admirer



  1. Great post about a great artist and one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Thak you..for sharing! And the Smarty-Arty's Libary...would be great fun to see what kind of books they have there..!

    Have a wonderfull day!


  3. What a lovely blog!
    We are away from home right now but will be sure to visit you again on our return.
    Thanks for visiting and following


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