The Brownie World of Palmer Cox
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections of McGill University Libraries hosts a reception to mark the re-opening of the department. A special exhibition, "The Brownie World of Palmer Cox," is the main feature of the celebration.
An exhibition by the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections of the McGill University Libraries
Mrs. Sheila Bourke, Guest Curator
October 23 to December 23, 1997
Main Floor, Redpath Library Building
Thursday, October 23 at 3:30 p.m., media representatives are cordially invited to a special visit of "The Brownie World of Palmer Cox" exhibition with Mrs Sheila Bourke, noted Montreal collector of childrens book and an expert on the Granby-born Palmer Cox who became one of the most popular illustrator-authors of the late 19th and early 20th Century. A member of the Presidents Committee of the Friends of the Library, Mrs Bourke is the first Friend of the Library to curate an exhibition of the McGill Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. The exhibition is based on a recent donation by Mrs. Phyllis Buchanan of Montreal. The donation consists of original drawings, books, artefacts and manuscripts by Palmer Cox, Mrs. Buchanans great-uncle. Lenders from the community include the Granby and Knowlton Historical Societies and private collectors.
Mrs Irena Murray, Head of the McGill Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, will then invite reporters to have a look at the treasures carefully kept on the 4th floor of the McLennan Library. They will have the opportunity to admire one of the very first incunabula, the Scrutinium scripturarum by Paulus de Sancta Maria printed in Strasbourg before 1470. They could also peruse through a full set of early issues of the Montreal tabloid Allo Police or the Philip Jaffe Collection of Communist Pamphlets, to name but a few of the McGill University special collections. A reception will follow at 5:00 p.m. to celebrate the re-opening of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections on the 4th floor of McGill Universitys McLennan Library, 3459 McTavish Street.
RSVP Anne-Marie Bourdouxhe. Telephone: 398-6754. Fax: 398-7364.
Brownie, like your first camera
In the fall of 1883, when Palmer Cox first introduced the Brownies to the readership of the New York-based childrens magazine St. Nicholas he specified that he was drawing upon his own roots. As a child in Granby, Quebec, he had heard, from both his mother and his stepmother, Scottish folktales featuring The Brownies, who were members of the fairy world whose principal attribute was helping with house and farm chores while the household slept. As Mrs. Bourke explains in the exhibitions cataloque: "The publication of The Brownies Ride was followed by thirteen books and Cox developed a cast of over 40 distinct and recognizable characters -- The Policeman , The Dutchman, The Chairman, The Scot, Uncle Sam, The Dude -- in fact almost every recognizable nationality in the world."
"Cox allowed the use of the little people for more than forty commercial products; he wrote and illustrated for many advertisement. Brownies appeared on postcards; toys; games; printed muslin to be cut out, sewn together and stuffed as dolls; card games, puzzles and blocks. There were carpets, wallpapers, tin trays, pencil boxes and rulers; complete dinner sets; a calendar; even a needlecase at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Numerous other articles were decorated with Brownies, including food-stuff. Cox wrote and illustrated booklets and magazines for many products: Ivory Soap and Cashmere Bouquest are examples, as was Ponds Extract. Perhaps the best known use of the Brownies in advertising was in the naming of the new camera that Eastman-Kodak invented. The Brownie camera, employing Brownies as advertising copies, was developed to appeal to children for its ease of use. In the use of the Brownies in advertising and in so many commercial products, Cox predated by many years the Disney Companys employment of their films to market so many spin offs."