I’m a bit late for a calendar post, but then again I always buy my calendars after January 1st–sometimes well after January 1st. While I’m not likely to engage in consistent sale-shopping or coupon-clipping, for some reason I get great pleasure from buying my annual calendars after they have gone on sale. We usually purchase a “North Shore Folk Art” calendar from J & J Graphics at the Peabody Essex Museum shop for our refrigerator, and sometimes I even wait until they have their big January sale (this year it’s on the weekend of the 20th-22nd, definitely worth a visit if you’re in our area). I’ll post January right here so I know what the date is until I get my own.
Upstairs in my office I generally pick something a bit more girly, whimsical, botanical, historical..whatever catches my eye. Right now I’m liking this ethereal calendar from Irena Sophia, already on sale on Etsy! I like the September and October girls–and Miss foxy February.
Calendars are an important form of ephemera that I haven’t featured on the blog yet, so why not now? At the same time, they are among the timeliest and most artistic of genres. And like all the pieces of paper we’ve examined over the last year–postcards, trade cards, book plates–they emerged as a mass-produced product in the later nineteenth century, coincidentally with the development of chromolithography. I love the calendars from the “Penfield era”, from about 1890 to 1920, when the distinctive designs of illustrator Edward Penfield (1866-1925) graced the covers of magazines and the pages of the new poster calendars much more than those that came later with their Vargas-inspired pin-ups. My “calendar girls” kept their clothes on!
Penfield calendars for 1897 and 1906 from the Library of Congress, above, and the work of some of his predecessors below (so you can see what an impression he made on turn-of-the-century graphic design): an 1876 advertisement calendar for cigars and champagne, and two calendars by Boston-era publishers, also from the Library of Congress.
Calendars from Penfield’s fellow art nouveau illustrators Louis Rhead (for Prang) and A.B. Wenzell for 1897 and 1899 are below, along with another rather less-artistic 1907 Boston calendar, for the beloved Necco wafers, all from the New York Public Library.
January 5th, 2012 at 8:40 am
You collect Calendars? I dunno, sounds a little like collecting phone books to me, except the really old ones are very cool.
January 5th, 2012 at 8:50 am
Oh no, Mark: I don’t collect them, I just admire them…..for a time.
January 5th, 2012 at 11:20 am
I have a fondness for the right calendar in the right location myself. I didn’t realize how much thought I actually put into it until I read this blog today. I too admire them, for their time. Thank you!
January 5th, 2012 at 1:54 pm
Thanks, TCM (I’m just watching the Turner Classic Movies channel now!)
January 5th, 2012 at 12:31 pm
A great blog and an eye opening topic! I too am a admirer of calendars and my taste for the design also changes over time and factors in many eclectic choices along the way to purchase. I look forward to reading future blogs from you.
January 5th, 2012 at 1:53 pm
Thanks for stopping by, Deb!
January 5th, 2012 at 4:00 pm
I love calenders and have such trouble parting with them after a year, in fact in 1976, the year I stayed with john family in Illinois, I stored the calender of that year in his mothers attic in a box with some other stuff. then went home to NZ . I eventually returned to the same house 25 years later and married John three years after that , so i have the calender of the year we met (one year, one page printed on a rattan blind) hanging in my study. I am not a romantic but it is rather poetic.. the calender is of course, not pretty, ah well. That is my little calender story.. ha ha ha. c
January 5th, 2012 at 9:56 pm
Charming story, Celi.
January 6th, 2012 at 7:48 am
I too love calendars and always buy J&J for my kitchen. I was crushed the other day (because I’m per usual late) to find out they had sold out of this year’s North Shore version, so I got on etsy and found this cool designer who is going to make me a Salem version of this one (which I will simply frame and keep on my wall forever).
January 6th, 2012 at 7:59 am
Oh no, Susanna–sold out? Well, obviously I waited too long this year. But thanks for the etsy alternative—I might follow your example.
January 6th, 2012 at 10:02 pm
[…] in others, she covers reveals the way a certain topic is portrayed in years gone by (see her recent Calendar Girls […]