japonisme: volland ◆ redux & farewell

17 September 2007

volland ◆ redux & farewell

In 1914, Rachael Elmer, a successful artist and book illustrator, decided to create post cards for the city she loved and had adopted as her home. Her efforts would result in the first American published, artist-drawn post cards.

Before ... marriage, Rachael had studied for several semesters at the New York Art Students League with eminent professors, the likes of Childe Hassam, Winston Cox, and John Henry Twachtman [and arthur wesley dow!]. Now she was using what she learned from the giants of American Impressionism to create her own views of New York City.

In 1914, after an exhausting search, Mrs. Elmer found the P. F. Volland Company of Chicago as a publisher for her post cards. The twelve-card set named the New York Art Lover's series, was packaged in an oaktag folder with a twist-string tie, and within weeks of publication the cards were selling in many upscale New York City boutiques and souvenir shops for 25 cents.

Mrs. Elmer's second set of post cards was published in Burlington, Vermont, in 1916 as part of the Biennial Celebration of the Association of Women Painters, Artists and Sculptors. The set included six creative woodcut block prints, each with a unique post card back. The views are the Times Building, the Stadium at City College, the Statue of Liberty, Grant's Tomb, the Woolworth Building and a very imaginative image of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Eighteen post cards—the sum total of Rachael Elmer's post card artistry. With that effort she changed the world of American post cards.

Along with others in the Robinson family, Mrs. Elmer is considered an American pioneer in the truest sense. She brought beauty to the black and white world of the American post card. She died on February 12, 1919, a victim of the Spanish Influenza epidemic. 1

E. B. White, "TERSE VERSE," The New Yorker, April 20, 1935, p. 32 April 20, 1935 Issue

ONWARD & UPWARD WITH THE ARTS about the greeting card business. A little old lady who lived in Louisiana, set out from her home in the south and journeyed all the way to Joliet to see Mr. P. F. Volland, of the Volland Co. She presented him with a motto for Washington's Birthday. Mr. Volland, impressed with the length of the journey, accepted it and drew up a contract on royalty basis. The motto flopped. The authoress, back in Louisiana, received no pay and began to suffer from delusions of fraud. After some months she again entered the office of Mr. Volland, and shot him dead. 2

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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