Do you know Dwig ?
I like to show off the stuff I collect,
…… I guess that’s natural.
And when I have visitors, some of my vintage postcards attract more interest than others…
For instance, my ‘French’ postcards always get a lot of attention, and sometimes surprise as well.
I guess most people today just don’t figure that the previous generations were just as randy as we are …
But since we’re here,
they must have been.
And remember, with no TV, no video games, no internet –
—– folks just had to have something to do, ya know.
They also had quite a good sense of humor –
– perhaps much better than our own society’s,
………. with it’s rather touchy sensibilities.
Besides the risqué French ones,
another genre that is extremely popular with visitors is a line of cards all drawn by the same illustrator —
A guy named Clare Victor Dwiggins -
………………… or, as he signed most of his cards,
A Southern Ohio (Wilmington) native, born in 1873,
Dwig was a well known cartoonist of the era….
He worked as an illustrator and cartoonist for a number of publications and syndicates,
including the Philadelphia Inquirer, New York World, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
As a young man, he liked to refer to himself as “Professor of Free-hand Drawing”,
…despite having been originally trained as an architect.
He produced a number of popular cartoon panels, such as:
‘Ophelia and Her Slate’,
‘J. Filliken Wilberfloss’,
‘Them was the Happy Days’,
‘Zeke Carsie Says’,
and ‘Leap Year Lizzie’.
He drew several early pieces on the ‘Leap Year’ theme–
….. if you don’t know what I’m talking about,
you can check out my post on “A Ladies Privilege”, here on WP.
He also drew a comic strip that ran for over 20 years in many major newspapers across the United States —-
from 1912 to 1932 — called ” School Days “,
……..the strip was Dwig’s take on Mark Twain’s Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer school-boy protagonists, but drawn in a early 1900′s setting.
“Listening In“, left, is an example–
and illustrates both his skill and his empathy for his characters – trademarks of his later work.
Another comic, called “Nipper” (1931-1937), is often seen in cartoon compilations from the period.
One of his early works, published by John C. Winston Company,
—- was the “Skull Toast Book“, from around 1904.
It was die-cut in the shape of a skull,
and contained about 85 pages of toasts for every occasion –
“Here’s to earth’s noblest thing, a woman perfected.”
“Here’s to love, the only fire against which there is no insurance.”
This little tome speaks volumes about the times in which it was printed,
…. as well as the popularity of die-cut books of that era in general.
Other pieces, printed around the same time,
published by Henry Coates and Company,
….which was a playfully illustrated series of quirky aphorisms …..
featured fractured philosophy about life, love, and the battle of the sexes–
………. from a distinctly turn-of-the-century point of view.
Copies of those works remain quite popular with collectors of printed media.
A penchant for art seems to have run in his family –
His cousin, also from Ohio, was William Addison Dwiggins, a type designer and commercial artist of some note.
Dwig himself is most remembered, however,
for his prolific and fascinating line of sentimental and humorous postcards.
The unique layout and the Art Nouveau look of the cards,
and more especially, his inimitable drawing style,
make them easy enough to spot,
……. but they are also almost always signed “DWIG”.
There’s a fascinating assortment of these cards –
The majority of his work was published between 1900 and 1940, by several companies,
…… including M. Walter Dunne, Raphael Tuck and Sons, Charles Rose, Tuck, etc.
Dwig had a distinctive sense of humor, and loved puns especially.
Another appealing aspect of these cards was Dwig’s affinity for drawing pretty girls –
—- almost always modeled on his wife.
These colorful cards came in a variety of topics and for a myriad of uses –
One well known set is called “Fortune Teller“,
……. which featured the images of very stylish, lovely Edwardian-era ladies –
(again, modeled after his beautiful wife Beth)
holding up placards, or mirrors with romantic messages in reversed script like:
“Love me and the world is mine“,
“Won’t you be my sweetheart“,
“My heart is yours“,
“I think of nothing but you“.
The messages were intended to be unreadable until held up to the mirror.
I have seen current cards that still use these original Dwig designs –
— and they are definitely back in vogue.
The verve and innocent humor of his cards really seem to have rung a chord with modern audiences-
It’s always fun for me to watch someone’s face when they first encounter Dwig’s work,
….. and when I tell them the cards are at least 75 years old.
I hope you enjoy them as much I do.
And now –
a link to the very funny and completely non random archive post of the day :
“I Demand Answers“.