Friday, December 28, 2018

Timber Cruisers

Timber Cruisers

The original painting, entitled "Blazing the Trail", was painted by Phil Goodwin in June of 1905. He sold the image to Outing Magazine, who had a halftone created to be used as the lead for an article on timber cruisers. In 1911, Brown & Bigelow, a major source for advertising art to be used for calendars and cards, purchased the image for use on a calendar.

A photograph of the original oil painting.

The halftone image produced for the article on timber cruisers in Outing Magazine for 1906.

This was not an easy translation. Some of the details were altered in the halftone, and I struggled to make sense of the foreground in the original because of how dark the original had become. I am more than satisfied with the result, although I will wait to hear from my patron.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Quaker Bear

From an image painted by Phil Goodwin in 1907 for the Cream of Wheat Company, for which he was paid the princely sum of $175.

If I'd have been gifted a piece of Cream of Wheat letterhead, I'd have used the original box, but since I was given a piece of Quaker Oats paper, the bear gets to root for the bowl of porridge.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Goin' Dutch on a Motocycle

Having done my fair share of Indian Motocycle paper, this time around I chose a European poster for this piece. 

I took some liberties, but so did the artist that did this.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Diamond R on Helena Hill

The Original Document

I am going to begin with a description of the original document, and an explanation of its nature. It is called a Bill of Lading, and this type of document is still in use today. It serves the purpose of assigning responsibility for cargo being moved from one place to another. This is the third of three Bills for a Bull Train from Fort Benton, M. T., to Fort Shaw, M. T., on May 17th, 1883. The first two Bills would have documented the itemized contents of nine wagons, three wagons being pulled by sixteen to eighteen bull oxen each. They were designated or named as the Lead, the Swing and the Trail wagons.

This third of the three Bills that made up this manifest is self-explanatory, and the handwriting is easily read.
An easy one to decipher is the #5 Lead, Swing and Trail wagon team, which together accounted for twelve thousand fifteen pounds of goods. In pencil, on the right side near the middle of the document is the amount paid for the eighteen wagons, in three wagon teams. #5 Team would have been paid one hundred twenty-three dollars and fifteen cents for its share.

T. C. Power & Brothers contracted the movement of freight to support the government troops at Fort Shaw, and the Indian Trader, J. H. McKnight at the Fort. This document came originally from the collection of Lewis Brackman of Helena, MT. The story of how he came to acquire it is for another day. Sometime after he acquired it, he sold it to Stuart MacKenzie of Chinook, MT. He graciously sold me this paper from his collection because I've been intrigued with early territorial business paper, and he knew what I intended to do with it.

After spending almost five hours removing Scotch tape from the back (all seams and intersections of seams) both horizontal and vertical were so thin I could see through them. Some paper repair was in order and archival paper repair tape (about two feet) kept it together and allowed me to remove ink, both part of the document (lines and columns) and manuscript where it would interfere with the image.

Who was the Wagon Boss?  

The next part of the story involves the title of the painting, and who this gentleman was, or at least could have been. There are some hints in the picture, including the Diamond R on the canvas sheets of the first two wagons, and the Diamond R on the pouch hanging over the saddle horn. Also, hanging over the back of the saddle there appears to be a military jacket with bright buttons.

The possible names that I have and the sources for those names are as follows: The Gilcrease Museum where the original painting resides cites a passage from the book Half Interest in a Silver Dollar: The Saga of Charles E. Conrad. On page 22 "The man in the painting is sitting on his horse as he watches the progress of the wagons up the grade. Art critics believe the man pictured is Ed Trainer, wagon boss for the I. G. Baker Company."

From the CMR Museum Archives: Col #2011.8.3 Box No. Card 6, Frederic G. and Ginger K. Renner Special Collection, Wagon Boss Card No. 2 3429B The Wagon Boss in the painting is"Doc" Freeles of Fort Benton, uncle of Coburn F. Maddox. Originally sold by Nancy Russell to Fletcher Maddox.

The most intriguing name that I found I can attribute to Ken Robison, historian at the Overholser Historical Research Center in Fort Benton. In a two part story for the River Press in 2012, Mr. Robison described a fellow by the name of James W. Brown who was a Civil War veteran, and in part one of the story, his military experiences, including the fact he was wounded three times is outlined. The second part of the story, and the one that I found tells of the most likely subject of the painting, although Charlie could very well have substituted the face of anyone for that of James Brown. The character that was portrayed may have been a combination of gear for the Diamond R, and a subject of Charlie's choice.

James W. Brown came west as a bull whacker in the Summer of 1866, driving a team of oxen and wagon from Nebraska to Salt Lake City. He loaded the wagon with freight for Helena in August, and arrived in Helena in September. Originally working for another business as wagon boss, he engaged with the original Diamond R, owned by John J Roe & Company under the business name Overland Express Company. I'm including an image of a way bill for the Diamond R below.

In 1868, Charles A. Broadwater, E. G. Maclay, Mathew Carroll and George Steele purchased the Overland Express Company, and James W. "Diamond R" Brown became their Wagon Boss. Sometime in 1870, he ceased working for the Overland Express Company and begin a business venture on shares with a fellow by the name of Kipp. He retired in his later years to ranch near Browning, married a Piegan woman and raised a family with her. He died peacefully in 1927.

I have linked to the rather lengthy article written by Mr. Robison, but I will once again link to it so that the full story can be read. James W. "Diamond R" Brown.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Gladiolus - Fini Bulb Grower Letterhead

This past March at the Western Heritage Artists Footprints on the Trail, I took a number of pieces of paper on a commission basis. I've done an American Beauty Rose on a piece of Peter Henderson paper, but it was eight years ago when I first started this old paper thing. The commission was accepted from the granddaughter of Mr. Van Lierop. She indicated to me that I was "supposed to do my magic". His favorite was the Gladiolus. I wanted it to look like advertising art from the '20s, and I used a lettering style that was also appropriate for the period.  Note the phone number. 204F2 in the upper right, and 333 bottom center, which is I assume for local calling. Note the lack of a Zip Code. This was a lot of fun. I'd do flowers again in a heartbeat.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Kenworth Badge, 1978

A freight bill for "Freight all kinds" from the Curwood Company in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to Tyson Foods Inc., Spring Dale, Arkansas. This is THE newest piece of old paper I've worked on, and a relative of the owners of Epp Trucking commissioned me to put some appropriate art on it.

Keep on Truckin'.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Fireboat Benton

Bill of Lading
for Jas. E. Booge & Co.,
From the collection of Lewis Brackman

The Fireboat Benton,

from C. M. Russell's

From the Sioux City Courier: In 1858, James Booge arrives in Sioux City. After buying a steamboat's water-logged load of wheat, he feeds the grain to a herd of hogs, butchers the animals and sells the meat to local butcher shops and the U. S. Army.

He went on to put into operation one of the largest meat packing plants in the United States at the time. In late April of 1881, Booge ships 20 sacked hams and 5 sides of bacon to J. H. McKnight, the Indian Trader at Fort Shaw, Montana Territory. It was carried by the Benton to Fort Benton, and arrived at Fort Benton on the 30th of May, or the 24th of June. One way or the the other, the pork was delivered.

Russell painted this little gem (16" X 25") in 1918, following more than one trip to New York where he was exposed to the color palettes of several well-known Eastern artists including Maxfield Parrish and Philip Goodwyn. Both of these artists were skilled in using vibrant colors and their compositions were constructed for maximum impact. Russell's fireboat would have done just fine for my version, but since the Indians had seen steamboats on the Missouri at least 30 years before the arrival of the Benton in 1881, I chose to put the Benton on this piece of steamboat history.  

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Buffalo Robes No. 3, THE END

A poem and illustration by
C. M. Russell


By 1881 when this billhead was completed, the Buffalo had all but disappeared with few exceptions. Charlie Russell arrived in Montana Territory in 1880, and perhaps did see a few small herds on the plains between the Yellowstone River and the Missouri.

When Buffalo Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are matted and framed, I will publish the completed piece. This is for a patron who brought this project to me at the Western Heritage Artists Footprints on the Trail Show at the Holiday Inn this past March.

Buffalo Robes No. 2, October 6th, 1868

Killing of Cows and Spikes
Image is from a photograph by L. A. Huffman
taken the Winter of 1881 in Central Montana.


The patron who commissioned these pieces also chose the titles - up front, based on the date of the paper. Huffman took a series of seven photographs of a buffalo hunt in the Winter of 1881, somewhere between the Yellowstone and the Missouri Rivers North of Miles City. The two hunters were staying in a hut they constructed of long posts and buffalo hides that bridged a small coulee. Huffman produced stereoviews from several of the photographs, and this was one of them. Later, he also used this as a sepia tone postcard, and had retouched it.

Huffman also included text on the reverse of the postcard which indicated there were nine animals at this particular site. There were only eight that I could see, but perhaps one was out of this particular view. Huffman used a new camera he had acquired, and although this one appears to be taken from a tripod, several of the photos were taken from the saddle. Tripod or saddle, they are spectacular photographs in more ways than the obvious.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Owney the USPO Mascot

Owney, Railway Mail Service mascot

In 2011, the USPS offered a Forever stamp honoring a dog who followed a mail clerk to work in 1888 and became a mascot because it liked the smell of mail bags. He traveled the country in railroad mail cars, always returning to Albany, New York, where he originally hopped aboard.

Along with the release of this stamp, USPS also offered a number of high-tech tidbits to try to get youngsters interested in stamps. They also opened a contest to First Day Cover artists to create covers to be included in an exhibit at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., along with Owney - who is now stuffed and on exhibit. 

I forgot about the contest until Monday morning when I was at the post office to mail a package. The postal employee who aided and abetted some of my early adventures with stamps excitedly approached me with some news - Our Postmaster had been to the postal museum in Washington, and she took a photograph of my cover - in the museum exhibit. I thought that was pretty special.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Buffalo Robes No. 1, June 23rd, 1859


From C. M. Russell's Running Buffalo

This is the first of three piece I have been commissioned to do, all of them referring to Buffalo Robes. I have seen advertisements for what were called Sleigh Robes, and I would imagine they were sought after for that reason. These that are being sold by this businessman in Boston would have come to them via an Indian trader on the frontier. They would have come from Indians who traded the robes for trade goods, and in 1859, Indians were the source for the robes. This is a story of not only the paper, but the huge herds of buffalo that were almost gone by the time Charlie arrived in the West.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Baby Ruth and Paul Tibbits

Back in August of 2010, I put up a post of a billhead which referred to a sale of Baby Ruth Candy Bars which I obtained from a Michael Popek of Forgotten Bookmarks via SusanE at This Old Paper. It was great fun to put together that post (and the image), primarily because I was to learn a great deal about the way that the candy was merchandised across the country.

The Baby Ruth candy bar was THE Gravy Train for a fellow by the name of Otto Y. Schnering, who not only knew how to make a good candy bar, he also knew how to promote it.

In 1926, Otto hired a barnstorming air racer by the name of Doug Davis to spread Baby Ruth candy bars far and wide - from the air. Davis had three Waco airplanes and two former military pilots with which he was barnstorming the Southern states and he called it the Davis Flying Circus. It was quickly turned into the Baby Ruth Flying Circus. Check the link above for more information about what became a sensation from the skies when Davis started dropping Baby Ruth candy bars tied to rice paper parachutes - in over forty states across the United States.

Even more interesting than the Baby Ruth Flying Circus is the story of Paul Tibbits, who garnered a ride in Davis' Waco to serve as the bombadier for one of the Candy Drops in Florida in 1927.

Paul Tibbets was born in 1915 to Enola Gay and Paul Warfield Tibbets in Quincy, Illinois. In 1924, the Tibbets family moved to Florida. Paul was nine. On a warm summer day in 1927, barnstorming pilot Doug Davis, let twelve-year old Paul ride in his Waco 9 airplane and toss Baby Ruth candy bars to the crowds at Hialeah racetrack and Miami Beach. Tibbets always traced his interest in aviation to that day.

Do you recognize the name of Paul's mother?  On August 6th, 1945, Paul Tibbits flew the B-29 he named the Enola Gay over Hiroshima, Japan, and will be forever remembered in history books, as will his mother.

I've done the Curtiss Baby Ruth airplane twice before, and with this one I'll put the plane in the hanger. My art probably doesn't make you want to go buy a Baby Ruth, but you'll perhaps think of my art the next time you pay 75 cents for a nickel candy bar!

Messenger for the Palace

The third time will not be the charm for this bottle. While working on this one, I had a vision of a Russell label to match the cigar box pictured below. Might be a nice combination.

There's also a square top box label that is pretty close to the same design as pictured below. My thinking is I should make a Bateman & Switzer Whiskey label of my own.

To me, either one of them is not really a very good likeness of Charlie. I can do better.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

J. H. Owings, The Great Rocky Mountain Remedy

A year ago, I was chasing a bottle. The bottle I was chasing is a sought-after and very collectible bottle that Dr. J. D. Eastman had produced for an herbal remedy formula called Oregon Grape Root Bitters. When Owings purchased the business from Eastman, he also obtained all of the business paper. Included in the business was a very well done letterhead which included a paper label for his product, which went unused once he had the embossed bottles produced.

While attempting to locate a collector willing to give me a photograph of this bottle, I was told of the existence of an Eastman letterhead with the label.

The bottle this label was applied to may or may not have been embossed, but once I saw this letterhead, I knew exactly what I needed to do to add a labeled bottle to the Owings letterhead. The embossed bottle was placed on a bill of lading, and I posted it here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Horse of the Hunter, Buffalo Brewing Company

This is a piece of billhead for the Buffalo Brewing Company of Sacramento, California. I follow several glass groups on Facebook, including Western Bottle Collectors and patent medicines. I love putting glass on old paper, and I also like putting C.M. Russell's fabulous art on paper appropriate for it. Thanks to a good friend, Daniel Lopez for putting this piece in my hands.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Savage 99

Over the past six years, I have on occasion acquired a piece of paper and lost track of when or where I came to find it. In this case, I had access to more than one example of this rifle, and in the end I had to rely on friends that I've made who provided me with reference photos. The coin is a bit bigger than a Buffalo nickel. This one is headed to the Western Heritage Artists Footprints on the Trail show in Great Falls, Montana, during Western Art Week.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

L. C. Smith Hammerless Shotgun

Dated February 1st, 1893, J. F. Gibson apparently did a bang-up business as a gun and locksmith, and he chose a stock engraving for his billhead that included a fine grade carved and engraved L. C. Smith shotgun. Just another example of a piece of paper I've enhanced and I'm taking to the Western Heritage Artists' Footprints on the Trail show and sale in March.