The Postcard Art of Cobb Shinn

kindofdogshinnSome vintage postcards look like
they could have been produced
a hundred years ago,

— or they could have been
done just last year —

I don’t mean judging by the clothing
or the subject of a card, of course,

—- but by the artist’s
sensibility and style.

A Frances Brundage card,
for example,
(like this next Thanksgiving card)
is easy to relate to,
even for modern audiences,brundage

— although she happens to have done
most of her best work way back in the 1890’s.

And then,

there are other card designers
that force you into a whole
different artistic orientationanger
in order to understand
what’s being said.

Cobb Shinn
(also known as ‘Tom Yad’)
produced thousands of cards —
many, very highly prized by collectors —

But often the first thought
when someone
encounters his work is:

“What Did He Mean?” .

And it’s funny–

I don’t think that cheepshinn
half the people
who were originally
buying his cards
knew exactly what
Cobb Shinn really
was saying about
his subject.

Take his “Ford” series,cobbshinn1e
for instance.

A very experienced collector
friend of mine claims that
these cards were produced
under the aegis of the fledgling
Ford Motor Company to drum
up business for the Model T.fordshinn1

On the other hand,
writer Sylvia Henricks
that, no:
“His drawings of
the Model T Fords

portrayed the frustration
of their 
owners and ford
the merriment of observers. “


I can see it both ways —

Henry Ford didn’t mind publicity…

I just don’t think
this was the kindvotesshinn
of publicity that
he really appreciated.

But there are Shinn cards
that are kinder to Ford —
— so, perhaps.

Take another example…

It seems to me
that Shinn
was in favor
of women’s suffrage —
— at a time
when it was
very controversial.

But he often uses a
peculiar spelling
for the word ‘women’ –

— ‘wimmen’.

was he mocking
the whole movement,
or trying to lighten the
discourse surrounding it?backshinn

It’s very hard to tell,
if you only have his cards
and his art to go on.

Perhaps, he was just
‘playing the market’–

The postcard business could be a
tough way to make a living, after all.

Still, he seems to have
managed pretty well —

Shinn was born in Indiana in 1887:1912

A graduate of the
John Herron School of Art,

He studied under the great
Impressionist artist William Forsyth,

as well as the popular pulp
cartoonist William Merle Allison,

and was creating cards
as early as 1907.wrongname

He served in France,
in the United States Army
during World War I,

and came home to
Indianapolis around 1919.

Shinn is remembered for charliechaplinshinn
several genres of novelty cards —

He did a series of
humorous comic cards —

featuring Charlie Chaplin,
for instance.

Baseball was a
favorite subject of his….. bugs

Others were romantic cards
with poetry —

a series called “Riley Roses”
featured Indiana born poet
James Whitcomb Riley,
and with stanzas from his work.

Others featured Longfellow,
and Whitman.

There were also many
series with children,

including the
“Sepia Wooden Shoe Dutch” cards.bow

As I stated previously,

Shinn had served in France
during World War I,
returning to Indianapolis in 1919.

The retail demand for postcards
had a seasonal and
yearly ebb and flow,

and during the lean times in the era,

he produced all kinds
of commercial art ,

including comic strips,little
and even clip art.

Somewhat notoriously,
he also illustrated several
childrens books, that were —

well, let’s say —
not culturally sensitive,
or inclusive.conradshinn

Perhaps that is why Shinn
is not remembered as fondly
as some other postcard illustrators —

Or maybe the cryptic nature
of some of his cards
themselves had a role
in this.

Who knows.devilshinn

Who cares?

One learns about
the nature of our
own culture by
studying the relics
of the past.

So expect to see more
of this guy’s work
right here on the
Muscleheaded Blog.





A serious post script
about art censorship for a mo:spider

Art is art —

and it exists to elicit a reaction, right?

You never know–

even when art offends,

it might have it’s own positive
hand in changing attitudes about things.

In the end,

nothing can be learned unless
every perspective can be seen,
experienced, and understood.satsifyshinn

And in the whole world,

there are very few people that
appreciates censorship in any form
LESS than I do.

So, please–

keep any silly P.C. notions
about what I should not post to yourself.

And take a class,
man, take a class.




13 thoughts on “The Postcard Art of Cobb Shinn

  1. J.D. Riso says:

    Thank you for posting these…regardless. Censorship does not help anyone.

  2. His work is unique and fun! I love the “better call them ‘sweetheart'” card! 🙂
    Keep postin’ whatever you want, C! I, for one, appreciate your style and sense of humor and etc! 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  3. mislucja says:

    This wimmen loves Cobb 🙂

    The Longfellow card is gorgeous

  4. Mrs Fever says:

    It’s always hard to guess at others’ motivations, especially when their personal stances are unclear or unknown. I think the ‘wimmen’ is kind of cute, personally. Lots of little girls were looking at what their mothers were fighting for, and the childlike creative spelling – along with the small/young visual representations on some of those cards – make me think of how young ladies were being influenced.

    There’s a lot about women’s suffrage that the general public does not know/understand. It is a subject seldom touched upon in U.S. history courses at the compulsory level, but the facts are fascinating. I found myself giving hubby a short lecture (educational, not haranguing) on the topic a couple days ago after watching Mary Poppins (Jane and Michael’s mother is a suffragette). 🙂

  5. julespaige says:

    A delightful display 🙂

  6. […] via The Postcard Art of Cobb Shinn — The Müscleheaded Blog […]

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