SATIRE - PART 2
Size: 3" x 5" or 5" x 3"
This is a series of 50 cards, numbered from 51 to 100 on the back of each card, either in the bottom left corner or at the top center, depending on the style of the card back (see examples). Another, very similar, series of cards with satirical themes carried the numbers from 1 to 50. (See Satire - Part 1.) 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. (Unnumbered, larger-format versions of several of the cards were also produced by Arbuckles'. These are virtually identical to #71, #72, #73, #74, and #83. All five are shown in the Satire category of the Short Sets grouping.)
The front of each card in this series is a multi-colored illustration, in either a horizontal (16) or vertical (34) 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 a shade of blue. 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. It would appear that only some of the cards exist with both types of backs. (See examples.)
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).
NOTE: For all of the cards which used Puck and Texas Siftings as a source, and all but one of those that used Judge, the original issue 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 taken 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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