POISON IN THE CUP!
Never let it be said that the Arbuckle Brothers Coffee Company took a laid-back approach to competition in the coffee industry. It appears that blatant disparagement was the order of the day. It wasn't sufficient to just just extol the virtues of their own pure and virtuous products. No, sir! On the backs of a number of the Arbuckles' "Counter" cards is a warning to all consumers of the evil and poisonous coffees being sold by others in the business, coffees which put the health of whole communities at risk!! This warning is accompanied by a notarized affidavit "signed" by Charles and John Arbuckle, attesting to the absence of those poisonous substances found in other coffees.
I believe that several interesting pieces of information can be gleaned from this message, which can help identify and date some of the Arbuckle insert cards. The first item is the "second day of August, 1888" date given by the notary. That should place all cards with this message in the 1888 or later time frame. The second is the statement indicating that there were two "pictures" in each Ariosa package, that one was "Artistic" and the other "Comic", and that there were 200 designs in the series. Combining that statement with the 1888 date, and with the original publication dates that I've identified for the Puck cartoons, I believe that the "Comic" cards referenced are the 100 cards in the two Satire series, which also must've been issued sometime after August, 1888. More by process of elimination, then, I tend to believe that the 100 "Artistic" cards referenced must be the ones I have listed as Miscellany - Unnumbered, which apparently were issued concurrently with the Satire cards. Since Arbuckles' started issuing the State Maps and Cooking series at some point in 1889 (with only one card to a package, by then), it would seem to date the Satire and Miscellany cards (and these Counter cards, too) as late in 1888 or early in 1889.
"POISON IN THE CUP!" appears in several slightly different styles and layouts, and may be printed in either black or red. The text itself, however, always seems to be the same. That common text is shown below, and beneath that I've presented images of the various styles currently represented by the cards on this site. The "Type" designations I've assigned are merely my own way of making it easier to associate specific cards with particular styles.
NOTE: Images shown below are generally smaller than actual card size.
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