This old ink blotter for Ticonderoga pencils1 features an absolutely wonderful illustration by Frances Tipton Hunter. (Confession: It took me some guessing and Googling before I was able to correctly read the blurry artist's signature in the lower-left corner.)
Hunter (1896-1957) had a style that was similar to Norman Rockwell and was one of the top female illustrators of her era, contributing 18 covers to The Saturday Evening Post in the 1930s and 1940s.2
Curtis Publishing website reveals that she was born in Centre County, Pennsylvania, but then moved in with her aunt and uncle in Williamsport, Lycoming County, at the age of 6, following the untimely death of her mother. After graduating from Williamsport Area High School3, she moved to Philadelphia and continued to develop her artistic talent.
In addition to The Saturday Evening Post, her work was published in Woman’s Home Companion, Collier’s, Liberty, Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal. But it was Hunter's artistry with paper dolls, according to the Curtis Publishing biography, that provided her most lasting fame:
"In the early 1920s Hunter created a series of paper dolls that first appeared in Ladies Home Journal. Hunter’s dolls created such a following that six beguiling youngsters would find their way on a regular basis into the publication. So successful was this series, that the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin, published The Frances Tipton Picture Book, which featured 20 color and 12 black and white illustrations of children and their pets, accompanied by verses and stories by Marjorie Barrows. The popularity of this book inspired the publication of a compendium of her doll artwork, Frances Tipton Hunter’s Paper Dolls."4For more on Hunter, here are two additional links:
One last thing. The Dixon Ticonderoga Company has a gallery of company-owned and company-related artwork. It includes the Hunter illustration that appears on the ink blotter ... sort of. Here are two illustrations, side by side. On the left is the ink blotter illustration. On the right is the illustration featured on Dixon Ticonderoga's gallery.
Whoa! Why are there differences? My guess: The illustration on the right is the original. For the ink blotter (and presumably other Ticonderoga promotional use), the blackboard background was created and the seated boy's book lost its cover illustration, so as not to be too distracting. Whatever the case was, it's pretty neat to note the differences.
Just for fun: More ink blotters
- Wampole's Creo-Terpin ink blotter from Ensley, Alabama
- Ink blotter for McCall Chair Co. of Cornelius, North Carolina
1. Did you know that there is a whole platoon of blogs devoted to pencils and writing implements? I had no idea! One of the more notable websites seems to be Pencil Revolution. And Pencil Revolution's home page features a dizzyingly comprehensive blogroll of other pencil blogs. Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that Pencil Revolution had this review of Dixon Ticonderoga Classic in 2005.
2. Norman Rockwell, by comparison, contributed a whopping 317 covers to The Saturday Evening Post over 47 years.
3. Fun piece of trivia: Williamsport Area High School's nickname is the Millionaires.
4. At least two modern reprints collect Hunter's paper dolls: "Little Busybodies Paper Dolls in Full Color: The Classic Series" and "Alden Family Paper Dolls in Full Color."