Arbuckle Coffee Trade Cards Banner

(incl. BIRDS)

Size: 3" x 5" or 5" x 3"
Date: Undated
Lithographer: Unidentified

This is a series of 50 cards, numbered from 51 through 100 on the back of each card in the lower left corner.

The front of each card in this group is a multi-colored illustration, in either a vertical (mostly) or horizontal format, depicting one of a wide assortment of subjects. The first 19 cards (numbers 51 through 69) feature birds. On the remaining cards (numbers 70 through 100), similar subjects are generally found on two or more consecutively numbered cards. These include portraits of children holding flowers, women doing chores, children playing in snow, street urchins, girls with pets and toys, stagecoaches, sailors, etc.

The back of each card consists of one of two styles, printed in black. Some show a detailed engraving of the Arbuckle factory buildings and docks, in a horizontal format, while others contain only the standard "Four Points" sales pitch, in a vertical format, explaining the virtues of Arbuckles' Ariosa Coffee. (See examples.) As far as I know, any given card number may be found with one or the other of these styles, but not both.

This group of cards appears to be a hodgepodge of stock illustrations which Arbuckles' adapted for their own use. While a few of them include what appears to be an artist's name or a simple humorous title, none of them bear copyright dates or the name of the lithographer. Several of these illustrations may also be found on trade cards for other products or companies, with the birds often being found as one component of a more elaborate design. Many of them were also used on greeting cards produced by Raphael Tuck & Sons. At least some of the designs likely originated with Tuck, but I don't know if all of them did, or if they simply had a common source.

I believe that all of the bird illustrations were originally drawn by a French artist named Hector Giacomelli. It appears that at least some of them were published by Raphael Tuck in an 1885 folio entitled "Le monde des OISEAUX (INDIGENES ET EXOTIQUES)". I've seen images of a few pages taken from that folio which include several drawings which match illustrations on the Arbuckle cards. A similar group of four folios, "Studies of Bird Groupings", appears to have been published by Raphael Tuck in about 1888 or 1889. (See TuckDB Emphemera for more information.) Again, I've seen several pages from those folios which include additional illustrations matching some of the Arbuckle cards. Unfortunately, I don't as yet have any of those folio images available to include here.

I have, however, been able to include the image of a later 1890 Giacomelli painting entitled "ETUDES D'OISEAUX (Studies of Birds)" on 7 of the individual pages for birds which are depicted in that painting (#54, #59, #62, #64, #67, #68, and #69).

Three of the bird drawings (#51, #58, and #63) also appear in a painting by Fidelia Bridges (date unknown). This painting is nearly identical to one of the groupings found in the third of the Giacomelli 1888 folios.

Disclaimer: Although Arbuckles' didn't name the birds shown on these cards, with some assistance I've been able to identify most of them, at least in general terms. In some cases, where specific names are available on other companies' cards, or in the Tuck folio descriptions, I've used those. However, naming conventions on some species seem to have changed over the course of more than a century, so the names shown may or may not reflect current usage.