Yesterday's Magazette

1 – Cupid Revisited

Cupid Revisited

By Madonna Dries Christensen

Here at Yesterday’s Magazette we welcome feedback on articles. No story has generated as much interest as Cupid’s Magic, published in 2008.

We’ve had 44 comments, mostly inquiries about the monetary value of the photos. I respond that I’m not qualified to appraise antiques; the only information I have is available on any search engine. As we’re all aware, information on the Internet might be true, half-true, or complete fiction. But from one man’s comments I have additional information about two of the photos. First let’s revisit the earlier article.

Cupid is said to be responsible for enticing folks to fall in love, but for more than a century people have been enamored with the little girl who depicted Cupid in these vintage photographs. M. B. Parkinson photographed Cupid Awake and Cupid Asleep. He worked in the New York City area during the latter part of the 1800s and early 1900s. His beguiling model, Josephine Anderson, was the daughter of a friend, a single mother who worked and sometimes left her child in Parkinson’s care. Josephine died in the 1970s.

Parkinson copyrighted his prints in 1897. They were distributed by Taber-Prang Art Company of Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1908, The Ohio Art Company began selling metal frames in which the Cupid prints were displayed, some of them hand tinted. The Cupids were immensely popular, exhibited in homes across the country. In 1938, Ohio Art Company bought the copyright from Taber-Prang after their bankruptcy. Originally sold for a nickel or dime, the Cupid photos now command high prices. Let the buyer beware; there are as many reproductions on the market as originals.

Other vintage Parkinson prints are in circulation and nearly all of them have a child as the subject, including other Cupid prints. Cupid At Rest and Cupid Interested were copyrighted in 1906 by M. DeWitt. Cupid Waiting and Cupid Watching were copyrighted in 1911 by Hughes and Lyday Company. There’s also a print called Encore in which Cupid is holding a violin, and another called What Will You Have? Not so common are the Black Cupid prints issued by Schlesinger Brothers and by National Art and Frame Company.

Now, the new information. Josephine Anderson was not the only model for the Cupid photos. In a note to the magazine, Bob Salerno explained that his grandmother was the girl in Cupid At Rest and Cupid Interested. Her name was Gertrude Scooler (later Nolan). Bob says that DeWitt illegally marketed the private photos, but because his great-grandparents did not have the money for legal action they could do nothing to stop the sale and distribution. Bob and his mother believe that Gertrude posed for only two photos; they are unaware of any others. Bob has originals of each of the poses, with the best find being one he came across in a Billings, Montana, antique store.

Bob says, “When one considers my grandmother grew up in New York, moved with us to Florida in 1968, and then I locate the photo in Billings, with my mother, Gertrude’s daughter, in tow, well, it’s quite the extraordinary find. Even beyond finding a needle in a haystack.”

Perhaps it was Cupid’s serendipitous magic; little Gertrude pulling the string on the bow and sending an arrow that glanced off Bob and turned him in the direction of the antique store.

Vol. 38 No. 1 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Spring- 2011

7 Comments »

  1. I have the two original cupids (3.5″ tall-sepia) in 2 small dark brown metal frames: (and yes I am living in Ohio, where you say that the metal frames originated)copywrited1897-found- my greataunts closet
    (printed)No.2001Cupid Awake&(printed)No.2002 Cupid Asleep and both have printed “published by Taber Prang Art Co. ; Springfield, Massachusetts. They are totally without a doubt the originals and I would like to know more or less what they are worth. Just an estimate would be great, because in your article you say that you do not know the exact price and tend to not appraise but just and idea would be so kind on your part. Thanking you in advance, I remain Janna Ibarra

    Comment by Janna Ibarra — April 26, 2011 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

  2. I have a print and now sure what it is called and cannot find anything on the internet about i. It has a grandma and a little girl behind her covering her grandmother’s eyes. It is in a beautifure frame. It says Copyrighted in 1890 and has been in my husband’s family for way over 75 years. I would love to know more about this print.
    thanks!

    Comment by Susie Neudecker — September 4, 2011 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  3. I found one of the original “Cupid Asleep’ photo and on the back of it shows this:

    No. 1891 Copyrighted
    Cupid Asleep
    Published by Taber Prang Art Co.
    Springfield, Massachusetts

    Comment by Cecilia Burrell — December 4, 2011 @ 12:27 am | Reply

  4. I have inherited a Cupid Waiting photo by Hughes & LyDay – 1911 with a serial number. I am interested to see what the value is on this portrait.

    Comment by Sondra Hudgens — January 2, 2012 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

    • My brother has the same picture of cupid waiting from 1911 with the serial number 4994 on it. The size of the picture is 16×20. If you have any information please let me know. Thank you.

      Comment by Sherry Pendergrass — March 23, 2014 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

  5. Was wondering if you know of the cupid photo taken in 1906 where the girl is looking up with the bow under her arms and the arrows strapped to her back. She is wearing a bracelet on her right wrist. Do you know any information on it?

    Comment by cyndi wilkening — January 10, 2013 @ 9:59 pm | Reply

  6. Hi: I have a “Cupid Awake,” photo, it’s encased in a brown wooden frame. On the back of the photo is written, No. 1894 copyrighted, published by Taber Prang Art Co. Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s prior to the 1897 copyright date that appears in the photo. I believe this would be an original. How do I determine it’s value? I’d appreciate that information, I’m Canadian and reside very close to Toronto.

    Comment by Mary Ellen Koroscil — September 5, 2013 @ 4:00 pm | Reply


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