Vintage Pin Up: Jules Erbit

juleserbit

Advertisements

What The Butler Saw

You’ve probably noticed
the occasional “Mutoscope”
cards that have been posted
here from time to time
on the Muscleheaded Blog….

And you might have
wondered just what
the heck a “Mutoscope”
was, anyhow.

Mutoscope was actually
a trade name name of
a large company in Chicago-butler
the American Mutoscope
Company-

….who originally made an
early motion picture device,
similar to the Edison Company’s Kinetoscope, using flip cards on
a ‘Rolodex’ sorta wheel, to
simulate motion.

The wheel would hold
about 800 cards, but
would only display
for a few seconds,

…..so to see the whole
‘movie’, you’d have to
continue to put in coins.

I’m pretty sure that
you’ve seen the kind of
thing in museums
and some older arcades —

You put a coin in the device,
you turn the handle, a light
turns on inside, and you look
down into a viewfinder.

The most popular title back
in Great-Granddaddy’s day
was called:
What the Butler Saw ” —

—  a series of scenes
featuring a Victorian
Age lady undressing in1
her bedroom as if
seen through a
keyhole —

( at right, you can see
one of the more ‘explicit’ scenes from this vintage set )

which, when viewed by
contemporary standards
would be considered
very mild, even trite,
as far as pornography goes,

……………. but at the time
was extremely racy, indeed.

In fact, the short Mutoscope’s
suggestive title became a
catch-phrase to describe
the whole genre.

I love these things–
I’m absolutely fascinated
by them.

Not that I didn’t know
that those stuffy Victorians
got naked, exactly,
but that
they actually got turned on
by the thought of a pretty
lady doing it.

Anyhoo…..

These things got so
popular, they were soon
found almost everywhere —

….. and were being made by a number of different companies
in a number of different formats.

Not all of them showed m3
risqué material, either —
far from it .

Most were completely mundane —
like cartoons, news films,
travelogues, etc……

But there were a number
of devices that, while not
containing actual salacious
material,

( and sometimes not
even a ‘moving’
image, but a
picture card
or a diorama )

….. would have a ‘come-on’ sign
advertising something very
confidential and prurient–
(using the old PT Barnum rule)

IF one would only put
in a coin to see for themselves.

Like this one-
The sign advertises
” Very Naughty ”
” Strip Poker ” –
put your coin in,
and ‘ voila ‘ –

111

The joke would then
be revealed —
——— usually an innocent view,
some kind of pun or
a play on words.

Disappointment
for a penny….

Not a bad price to enjoy
a laugh on oneself, I guess.

I remember one from
my childhood that was
in the corner of this
old candy store —

escoIt said:
” CLOSE UP-
LIVE NUDIST COLONY ”
on the machine,

….. and when you
slipped in a nickel,

( hey, even I’m not old enough
for the penny version )

…………….. you got a magnified
view of a living ant farm.

By the 1920’s, the whole genre of
coin operated gizmos were being
called “Peep Show” machines —midgetmovie
and they were usually found
in penny arcades.

The flip card format
was especially
good for displaying
still images slowly –

So, more and more machines
were set up to show 12
images for a coin —
– timed at 3 second intervals.

This was used for all kinds
of materials, views of a city
for instance, or humorous cartoons….

…..  and came to be called
“Exhibit Cards”.

But the most profitable
ones displayed Pin-Ups.

Sure, there were cards for sports,
comics, fortune telling, movie stars, flowers, and patriotic themes, (just about anything!),
but the ‘girlie’ ones , especially
those featuring Pin Up Art,
were top draws.

The cards for these machines
were done by artists who are
now considered to be past
masters of the Pin Up genre —

…….. including Gil Elvgren, Zoe Mozert,
Rolf Armstrong, Earl Moran, etc.

a2The pin-up exhibit cards were soon also finding a marketplace outside arcades, at news-stands, in magazines …..

And especially, in vending machines, selling them individually, or in series.

Their popularity hugely increased once World War II broke out….

Every serviceman had at least one set of these, it seemed.

Two major companies were marketing the majority of the cards, Mutoscope, and Exhibit Supply Company,

….. although today, most people
just generically call them
“Mutoscope Exhibit Cards”.exhibit

The cards had a very distinctive look then, and now,

……and most are easily identified,

because of their ethereal colors and simple, airy design  —

— printed, as they were, to display just as well under the lights and magnification of a Mutascope machine,

………… as to hold in your hand and view them up close.

Usually, they had some kind of legend, pun, or title that was vaguely relevant to whatever position or activity the pin-up girl was engaged in —

………..  well known titles of individual Pin-Up Exhibit Cards included:

Disturbing Elements ” ( Gil Elvgren ) disturbingelements

Hit the Deck
( Zoe Mozert )

I’ll Say So
(Rolf Armstrong)

Visibility Perfect
( Earl Moran )

Jutht My Thize
( Howard Connolly )

Anchors Aweigh
( K.O. Munson )

Up to Par ” ( Edward D’Ancona )

Red, White and You
( Billy DeVorss )

Would You?
( Earl Christy )

Air Minded
(Mable Rollins Harris )

Total Eclipse
( Haskell Coffin )

Shoulder Arms
(G.C. Orde )

Sailor’s Sweetheart
(Hy Hintermeister)

Keep ‘Em Flying
(Vaughan Alden Bass )

All told, there were at least
10 sets of these Pin Up
Exhibit Cards printed in
the early 1940’s —

……… or, about 500
cards in all, although some
were repeated
over several sets.

Unfortunately, many of these
wonderful vintage cards
have no signature,

………….. and we can only guess
who created the artworks contained on them.

The cards fell out of favor
after the War, as many servicemen returned and
settled down to domestic life —

Sexy returned to
being something
out of the social mainstream…
taboo and undesirable
for the ‘new prosperity’.

And even the greatest
pin-up artists
of the time were pressured to
‘tone down’ their more risqué
work for peacetime printing
applications — calendars, advertising, etc.

During the Eisenhower years,
pin-up girls were often pictured
wearing knee length garments,
with prim and proper posing,
and the cards with girls in
wispy lingerie again became
hard to get novelties.

Boy,
it seems society’s
blue-noses always find
a way to piss on one’s
parade, it seems.

Not that a little ‘coyness’
once in a while can’t be
sexy, too, I guess.

Either way —
we still have these
vintage cards to
enjoy, right ?

!!! HOY !!!!

.

allamericangirls1941mutos

The Essence of a Pin Up

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren

Hey,
following the Muscleheaded Blog
can be quite a chore,
I understand that.

There’s some really weird stuff
on here, man.

So I try to mitigate the pain,
whenever possible,

…. with beautiful vintage pin up art.

Like creative writing,

suzannemaunier

Suzanne Meunier

a great piece of art can be said
to exist in three places…

in the heart of the artist,
in the mind of the viewer,
and upon the canvas/medium itself.

But interestingly enough,
none of these images are identical.

The artist always sees
his creation
from the perspective
of his inspiration —

— how well his creative expression
lived up to the original vision.

The viewer sees
and judges the work
from his own very distinctive
and individual set of preferences,vespa
prejudices,
taste, and experience.

Much like a good work of poetry,

it is not all that relevant to its creator,

how the art is understood
by the individual viewer,

—– or to the viewer,
what the piece specifically
meant to the artist.

It is not necessary that there is a
meeting of minds between artist and art lover.a

The image itself –

— on the canvas,
or on the film,
or on the drawing pad,
or even on the skin —

is simply a mass of colors,
contrasts, textures,
and shapes —

—which bridges the perspectives
of the artist with those of the viewer,
and creates a subjective experience in each.

Harry Ekman

Harry Ekman

No wonder there are so many
opinions on what is,
….. and what is not,
good art.

“Pin Ups” are an art form
that I am particularly fond of.

It is, of course,
a genre that isn’t
and cannot be strictly defined —

— although many see it
as a very narrow class related to
scantily clad, large breasted women
in provocative poses.

almoore1

Al Moore

(Not that I have anything against
scantily clad, large breasted women
in provocative poses….. )

Actually,

I’m the last guy to knock
the whole idea of scantily clad women
of any breast size,

—- but that’s not all there is to it.

And I suppose that most pin-up fans
in the U.S. would define pin-ups,
as a purely American art form —

as characterized by the
work of artists like:

Gil Elvgren,
George Petty,

Coles Phillips

Coles Phillips

Rolf Armstrong,
Joyce Ballantyne,

Harry Ekman,
Zoe Mozert,
Earl Moran, etc–

……. and,
originating with pioneering artists

like:

Charles Dana Gibson,
Coles Phillips,
and J.C. Leyendecker.

The pin up form-
-in terms of tattooing-

a1

Sailor Jerry Collins

…. is actually considered part
of a genre called “American Traditional”-

typified by the works of artists like:

Sailor Jerry Collins,
Bob Shaw,
or Bert Grimm.

Pin-ups really get around, ya know.

In actual fact,
the first use of the term ‘pin up’
was in the British press, during the early 1940’s,

fernandebarrey

Fernande Barrey

…… and the practice of
hanging pictures and illustrations
of pretty girls in skimpy costumes
(or no costume at all)
started with English Tommies
during WW I.

This lovely French lady,
Miss Fernande Barrey,
graced the wall of many
a foxhole during the Great War,

…. and she can be rightfully
called the most popular pin up girl of the 20th century.

Yes,
even more popular than Bettie Page.

Her nudes,
in particular,
are today often categorized

Jean-Gabriel Domergue

Jean-Gabriel Domergue

not under pin-ups, however,
but as “French Postcards”.

Still,
they were first and foremost
‘pin-ups’ in the most basic of ways.

So, personally,

I think the term ‘pin-up’
should be open for interpretation.

And, putting the whole ranges of
photographic, tattoo and
ultra-realist pin up art aside,

— that still leaves a wide variety
of styles in relation to painted
and illustrated forms.

henryclive

Henry Clive

One cannot simply reject works of artists
like Raphael Kirchner and
Jean-Gabriel Domergue out of hand,

… because they didn’t fit a strict set
of parameters mostly related
to exaggerated perspective,

or because they weren’t American artists.

Other important European pioneers include:

British artists Aubrey Beardsley,
and David Wright,

Czech artist Alphonse Mucha,

Italian artist Achille Mauzan,

leofontan

Leo Fontan

and French artists Leo Fontan,
and Xavier Sager.

As the 1930’s progressed,
pin-up styles advanced
and diversified overseas by artists like:

Takabatake Kasho,
Suzanne Meunier,
Victor Tchetchet
and Chéri Hérouard,

…… and in the United States by:

Haddon Sundblom,

Henry Clive,
Zoe Mozert
and Earl Moran.

World War II pushed the

George Petty

George Petty

envelope even further,

but slowly,
the art of George Petty and Gil Elvgren
became the ‘gold standard’
that other artists aspired to.

When the fifties broke,
even more commercial markets
for the “American” type of pin-up opened up–

Calendars,
pulp magazines,
advertising all were booming,

…… and the larger publishing houses
like Brown and Bigelow controlled both content and style.

This tended to restrict, to some extent,

Alberto Vargas

Alberto Vargas

the creativity and innovativeness
of up and coming artists in the 1960’s .

If one looks at a 1960’s era Alberto Vargas,
for instance,

…. it’s not very different from the
pin-ups popular in the early 1930’s.

But, today, there has been a renaissance —

one might even say a revolution–

…….in the world of pin-up art.

Due to the ready availability
and open nature of the internet—

Artists are now free from the
traditional constraints of the

Maly Siri

Maly Siri

old-order art marketplace.

Gone are the large publishing companies

enforcing their idea of art upon those
who wish to make a living creating
beautiful, sensual art.

Thus, gorgeous fresh and innovative works
of the pin up genre are being created
in all kinds of different styles
and mediums all around the world,

… by artists as diverse as:

Maly Siri,
Brett Parson,
Olivia de Berardinis,
Hajime Sorayama,
Tommy Tijeda,

rolfarmstrong

Rolf Armstrong

Shane Glines,

et al.

Because the essential aspect of pin up
isn’t so much a matter of technique or perspective,

….. as it is the ultimate projection
of feminine beauty and sensuality onto a medium —

Any medium.

Long live Pin-Up Art–
and the artists that create it !

.

Who’s your favorite Pin Up Artist ?

Let me know with a comment,
or a submission !

.

HOY !

.
vargas Alberto Vargas