Although the Arbuckle Brothers Coffee Company claimed for itself a
copyright date of 1890 for this series, the illustrations on which the
cards were based were not originally commissioned by Arbuckles', but
rather had been previously published in one or more natural history
books. Thus far I can date one of them as far back as 1861,
three of them back to 1864, three more back to 1865, and
39 others at least as far back as 1885, although I
suspect that even those may have been published somewhat earlier.
45 of the 46 drawings that I've located so far
can be found in Vol. I of a 3-volume set of books
entitled: Animate Creation; POPULAR EDITION OF "OUR
LIVING WORLD," A NATURAL HISTORY by The Rev. J. G. Wood. Revised and
Adapted to American Zoology, by Joseph B. Holder, M.D.,
published in 1885 by Selmar Hess, New York. This
first volume is devoted to "Mammalia" and the illustrations that
Arbuckles' selected represent only a small portion of the nearly 350
illustrations to be found in this one book.
All but one of those 45 appear
as black and white illustrations, probably wood block engravings. Only
is a full-color lithographed plate. Interestingly, this plate, along
with all the other color plates, was actually printed separately from
the book itself, by L. Prang & Co., and
then pasted to the appropriate page by the publisher. Of the 44 black
and white drawings, ten appear as full page plates and the rest as
smaller illustrations scattered throughout the text.
One drawing not found in Animate
Creation is the Tiger, which I've located in Vol.
1 of a 6-volume German series, the first edition of A.
C. Brehm's Illustrirtes Thierleben, published in 1864
in Hamburg. Two other drawings also found in this earlier volume are
the Puma (in black & white only) and the Buansuah. Vol.
2 of this same series, published in 1865,
includes the Reindeer.
I've also located two of these same
illustrations, the Otocyon and the Whallabee, in earlier editions of a
J. G. Wood book on Mammalia entitled: The
Illustrated Natural History, published in 1865
(and again in 1876) by George Routledge and Sons,
London. This edition was also republished, page for page but reduced to
about 7/8 of the original size, at a later (unknown) date as the First
American Edition by The Federal Book Company of New York. The
reduction in page size for this edition has a somewhat detrimental
effect on the quality of the illustrations (and even the legibility of
the text, I'd have to say).
The Otocyon illustration, in
fact, can be found as early as 1861 in J. G.
Wood's Natural History Picture Book for
Children, published by Routledge, Warne, and
Routledge, London, and again in a later edition just titled Natural
History Picture Book, published in 1869
by George Routledge and Sons, London.
In 1886, yet
another J. G. Wood book, Wood's Illustrated Natural
History, was published by the New York office of
George Routledge and Sons, and contains matching illustrations for the
Gorilla, Zebra, Bison and Mullingong.
Other "pre-Arbuckle" uses
Volumes 1 and 2 of The Natural History of Animals in
Word and Picture by Carl Vogt and Friedrich Specht,
published around 1887 by Blackie & Son, London, which include all
36 of the Specht drawings that Arbuckles' used, and Volume 5
of an 1888 edition of The
Riverside Natural History
by John Sterling Kingsley, published by Kegan Paul, Trench &
Co., London, which includes the Reindeer, Jackal, Puma, and
The Orang-Outang also appears in an 1889
book by none other than P. T. Barnum titled The
King of the Animal Kingdom: Natural History from a New Standpoint,
published by R. S. Peale & Co., of Chicago.
Diane Scherzler (who happens to
be the great-granddaughter of the original engraver for the Friedrich
Specht drawing of the Lion), directed me to a couple of
interesting 1886 magazine-style publications from
McLoughlin Bros. of New York, titled Game Animals
and Wild Animals (both in their
"Bird and Animal Series"), which included full-color versions of the
Polar Bear (in the former) and the Bison, Gnu, and Big-Horn (in the
latter). What makes these illustrations particularly
intriguing is that, although they're done in color and definitely
precede the Arbuckle cards, the peripheral elements and backgrounds in
the McLoughlin versions are sufficiently different from the
orignal engravings so as to preclude them from being considered as
direct predecessors to the Arbuckle card versions.
Subsequent to Arbuckles' 1890
copyright date, I've found the Orang-Outan, Jackal, and Buansuah (as
Indian Wild Dog) in Vol. I of The Royal Natural
History by Richard Lydekker, published in 1894
by Frederick Warne, London,
as well as 24 of the illustrations in The
Animals of the World: Brehm's Life of Animals by
Alfred E. Brehm, published in 1895 by A. N. Marquis
& Company, Chicago. Then there's a book
entitled All About Animals,
published in 1900 by McLoughlin Brothers of New
York. This volume contains 22 of the illustrations. Again, all of them
appear in black and white and reproduce the earlier book illustrations,
not the altered versions that Arbuckles' used on the cards.
Additional research by Jerry
Anderson has turned up a book edited by Richard Lydekker entitled: Library
of Natural History, published in 1901
by The Saalfield Publishing Company of New York. This volume includes
the Buansuah (as Indian Wild Dog) and Orang-Outang. Diane Scherzler
located the Rimau-da-han and Asiatic Elephant in Beasts
and Birds in Pictures and Words, published in
1891/2 by McLoughlin Bros.
For comparison with the Arbuckle
versions of these illustrations, I've added a scan of each one, taken
from Animate Creation (except for the Tiger,
which is taken from Thierleben), to the page for
its corresponding Arbuckle Zoological card. Only Opossum, Zebu,
Leopard, and Indian Rhinoceros are not accounted for in either Animate
Creation or the first edition of Brehm's
Thierleben. It's interesting to note that, in almost all
cases, the Arbuckle cards faithfully reproduced the principal animal in
each drawing, while altering the format, simplifying the background and
general surroundings, and repositioning or sometimes completely
excising secondary members of the species that appeared in the
original. Of course, color was added for the Arbuckle versions and, in
a couple of cases (Chetah vs. Cheetah and Gnoo vs. Gnu), the spelling
of the critter's name was altered. Several also bear a different
Where practical, I've scanned
these drawings in their originally published sizes, although in about a
dozen cases I've had to reduce them slightly for space considerations.
In those cases, the original size is noted above the image. I've also
attempted to identify the artist responsible for each illustration,
when I can decipher a name or signature in those that have them.
Unfortunately, the Animate Creation publisher
chose not to credit any of the artists or engravers and even, in some
cases, seems to have intentionally obliterated signatures which appear
to have previously been present in the drawings. Interestingly,
however, several of those signatures are quite legible in the
illustrations published in the much later All About Animals
It also appears that Arbuckles'
appropriated some of the text from Animate Creation
(or one of its predecessors) as the basis for the descriptions used for
each animal in its "Album
of Illustrated Natural History". These descriptions
are necessarily abridged, and somewhat rearranged and paraphrased, but
it's quite clear that Arbuckles' freely lifted the gist of them, and
without any attribution. Here are a couple of examples:
||"The title "jubata," or crested is given to the
Chetah on account of a short, mane-like crest of stiff long hairs which
passes from the back of the head to the shoulders."
||"It is called jubata (maned or crested) from
the short mane-like crest of hairs passing from the back of the head to
|"The natural disposition of this pretty
creature seems to be gentle and placid, and it is peculiarly
susceptible of domestication."
||"The natural disposition of this pretty
creature is gentle and placid, and it is easily domesticated."
|"The speed of this animal is not very great,
and it has but little endurance..."
||"Its speed is not great, and it has little
||"The tusks of an adult male are most terrible
weapons, projecting eight or nine inches beyond the lips, and with them
it has been known to cut a dog nearly in two with a single stroke, or
to sever the fleshy parts of a man's thigh."
||"The canine teeth are enormously developed, and
serve for rooting up the favorite food, as well as for most terrible
weapons of defense and attack, protruding eight or nine inches beyond
the lips. With these it has been known to cut a dog nearly in two, with
a single stroke, or to sever the fleshy part of a man's thigh."
|"When chased, it presents a most absurd
appearance, for it is naturally anxious to learn how much it has gained
upon its pursuers, and is yet unable to look round, on account of its
short neck and the large excrescence on each side of the face. The
animal is therefore obliged to lift its snout perpendicularly in the
air so as to look over its shoulder; and as it always carries its tail
stiff and upright when running, it has a most ludicrous aspect."
||"When chased it presents a most absurd
appearance, because it is naturally anxious to know how much it has
gained on its pursuer, but is unable to look around on account of its
short neck, and the large excrescences on each side of the face, so it
is obliged to lift its snout perpendicularly in order to look over its
Clearly, even though 90% of the illustrations found on the Arbuckle
cards can be found in Animate Creation, the
1861 Natural History Picture Book for Children, the 1864-65 Brehm's Thierleben and the 1876 The
Illustrated Natural History confirm earlier publication
dates for at least seven of the drawings. Also, as noted above,
not only does Animate Creation not attempt to
credit the illustrators or engravers, there actually appears to be some
attempt to discredit a few. Either that, or some of the engravings that
were used "just happened" to be severely worn precisely in the area of
the artist's signature! In any event, this leads me to believe that
it's likely that all of the illustrations in Animate Creation
Secondly, several of the
scientific names, or "classical appellations", used on the Arbuckle
cards differ from those found in Animate Creation.
Certainly, this could simply mean that Arbuckles' updated these names
to reflect any changes the scientific community had made to the
animals' classifications in the period from 1885 to 1890. It seems
unlikely to me, though, that Arbuckles' would have taken the trouble to
do this and would have, in the interest of expediency, simply kept
whatever names were found in its original source.
Thirdly, the Reverend John
George Wood actually began producing natural history books in England
as early as 1852, and seems to have published numerous new, revised,
and/or reworked editions until his death in 1889. Animate
Creation was apparently an Americanized version of one of
these earlier works. Books with titles such as The
Illustrated Natural History (1852, 1863),
Routledge's Popular Natural History (1867), The
New Illustrated Natural History (1882), etc., were
apparently bestsellers in their time. It seems likely that Wood used
many of the same artists and drawings to illustrate these earlier books
and perhaps one of them actually served as Arbuckles' true source. In
addition, later editions of Brehm's Tierleben,
published in the 1870s and 1880s, were expanded from the original 1860s
edition and, I believe, included the work of a number of additional
artists. Also, of the four artists/illustrators that I've been able to
clearly identify (representing 44 of the drawings), three are German
and one English, confirming a European origin for the drawings.
And finally, since only 45 out
of the 50 illustrations that Arbuckles' used are included in Animate
Creation, with one additional drawing found in Brehm's
Thierleben, 4 more have to be accounted for. It seems to me
that if Arbuckles' was going to base their cards on previously
published drawings, they would more than likely have chosen them all
from a single source, rather than just getting 90% from one source and
then getting the other 10% elsewhere, especially since many more
illustrations were available to choose from in Animate
Creation (including different ones for the missing animals).
As my time and resources permit,
I'm going to attempt to locate copies of the natural history books
referred to above, and perhaps others, to see if I can further pin down
the true source(s) for this Zoological card series. And you can be sure
that, whatever I learn, I'll be happy to share it with my fellow
collectors here on my site! On the other hand, if any of you are
already ahead of me on this and have additional information available
that would shed more light on this subject, by all means, please get in
touch with me!