SATIRE - PART 1
Size: 3" x 5" or 5" x 3"
This is a series of 50 cards, numbered from 1 to 50 on the back of each card in the bottom left corner. A second, very similar, series of cards with satirical themes picks up the numbering from 51 to 100. (See Satire - Part 2.) It's likely that both series were issued and distributed at the same time. I also believe that these two series comprise the set referred to on the back of some of the Arbuckles' "Counter" cards as the Comic series.
The front of each card in this series is a multi-colored illustration, in either a horizontal (14 cards) or vertical (36 cards) format, presenting satirical social commentary in a cartoonish, but sophisticated, style. All cards display some humorous text at the bottom or side, most often consisting of dialogue between the characters in the illustration. These were not original works done for Arbuckles' Coffee Co., but rather reprints from three of the popular humor magazines of the times: Puck, Judge, and Texas Siftings. The original source is always attributed at the end of the joke by a line such as "From Puck, by permission".
The back of each card consists of one of two styles, printed in black. One type shows a detailed engraving of the Arbuckle factory buildings and docks, in a horizontal format, while the other contains only the standard "Four Points" sales pitch, in a vertical format, explaining the virtues of Arbuckles' Ariosa Coffee. (See examples.) To the best of my knowledge, every card number in the series may be found in both styles, but I haven't actually seen them all yet.
These cards are very eye-catching, using a bright rainbow of colors appropriate to the cartoons they are. However, the level of the humor would certainly indicate that they were cartoons targeted at adults, rather than children. They're almost all very wry social satire (rarely political) that I presume must've been quite funny at the time they were issued. I must confess, though, that while some of the humor has aged well, many of these "jokes" leave me completely mystified today.
I've found that these two Satire series are the most difficult of the numbered series to complete. I don't know if that's attributable to a smaller number issued, a smaller number saved by the adult target audience, or a larger number that've disappeared into the albums of the many non-Arbuckle topical collectors that these cards appeal to. The cards with "ethnic" and "dialect" humor, particularly where the blacks and the Irish are targeted, are very popular, especially, I suppose, since such "humor" would cause quite an uproar if it were printed today (and by a company trying to promote its product, no less).
I'm aware of one minor variety in this series that can be found on some of the vertically formatted cards with the "Factory" back. A small number of the cards (10 of the 36, that I know of) exist with the vignette on the back oriented in either direction relative to the front of the card. (That is to say, the top edge, when looking at the vertical front of the card, may be aligned with either the left or right edge, when looking at the horizontal back of the card.) For more detailed information about this variation, see Back View - Examples.
Note: For all of the cards in this series, the original issue of Puck (or Puck's Library), Judge, and Texas Siftings in which the cartoon first appeared has been identified (all between 1/5/1887 and 9/29/1888) and, in most cases, the artist's name as well. That information, along with an image of the original pen-and-ink drawing that appeared in the publication, is included with each full-size card. (Many of the images are scans made from photocopies of microfilm copies made from the original publication, so they may not be as sharp as they could be!) (Thanks to Jerry Anderson for his contributions to the Puck and Judge documentation, and for providing all of the Texas Siftings information.)
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