Figural Cameos | Sheaff : ephemera

Figural Cameos

by José L. Rodriguez

Kern's150

Some of my favorite cameos are those where the design is made to look like the product, profession or industry itadvertises. These “figural” or “shaped” cameo designs are actually quite scarce. I have documented only 250 out of 5,500+ cameo designs known -- thatʼs less than 5% of the total.

In figural cameos, the advertising text is placed within a design that resembles the product it advertises. Examples of

these would be padlocks, kegs, water pitchers, boots, books and many others. The most commonly found are books

(opened or closed) for booksellers, publishers and stationers; padlocks, anvils, axes, saw blades and other tools for

hardware merchants and agricultural implement dealers; mortar & pestles for druggists; water pitchers, soup tureens,

etc. for china and queensware dealers; barrels and kegs for coopers, grain dealers, wine and liquor merchants, and

the like; boots, shoes, shirts and such for clothing and footwear merchants; and cigar boxes, tobacco jars, etc.

for tobacco related products.

The vast majority of cameos are not "figurals", but found in tightly framed cartouches. Most often these frames are

scalloped but also come in shields, octagons and ovals. Sometimes the borders are decorated with garlands and

other decorative elements. Once in a while elaborate rococo style cartouches are found as well as some rare types

such as those with lacework borders. Almost always the frames are symmetrical rather than free flowing. Text and

graphics are encapsulated within these various frames and render a pleasing and colorful advertisement. In many

ways, cameos resemble store shingles and wall plaques found on many storefronts and commercial buildings erected

throughout the United States in the mid-19th century, when most commercial signage displayed text with decorative

touches like curleques, stars, eagles, etc. Rarely were other graphics added. Sometimes the store shingle was a

shaped sign like a boot, a pair of eyeglasses, a pocket watch, a pair of scissors, a mortar and pestle, a saw, or other

product.

There are quite a few figural cameos known only by one or two examples. These “one-offs” are quite interesting and

some are spectacular. Such designs include a stove, a safe, a ball of cheese, a headstone, a mackerel, an

envelope, a bale of cotton, a pocket watch, a pipe fitting, a window curtain and an architectural carving.

Figural cameos not in my collection but known to me include a stovetop hat for a hatter, a whale for an sperm oil

merchant, a medicine bottle for a patent medicine manufacturer and a wall map for a map seller.





The gallery below presents a selection from the José Rodriguez Cameo Collection together with some

selected additions found in public sources such as auction catalogs and city business directories.

We hope to add examples from other collectors and submissions are solicited.


Taylor&Wilson150

CollinsFish-150

DrSwayne's150

BowserArtist150

SuffolkNursery150

HardyBros150

HowellGravestones150

HowellGravestone150

Young&Keiper150

Edwards150


GillettHat150

Bourke150

Bentz&Lutz150

Gardner150

Willard150

Keith150

Ellwanger&Barry150

Smyth150

Stearns&Marvin150

WannerKline150

Young&KeiperRecpt150

Blumenthal'sChina150

Edmands150

Shirley(pitcher)150

Boyd&Stroud150

Kimball150

Tooly150

DemarestFish150

BrownSeaveyFish150

Baker150

SaveryDrug150

Beates&Miller150

BeatesMillerLambert150

Beates&Miller#2-150

Beates&MIller#3-150

Clickener150

Forney&McPherson150

Curley150

GastonDickson150

Morris&Fontayne150

CurleyLH150

Worthington150

Heartt150

Stevens&Betts150

DDWright150

Wright

YaleMacFarlane150

Vance&Landis150

DilworthBransonCvr150

DilwothBransonBH150

DilworthBranson3-150

Norton&Wilson150

Becker&Rader150

Appleton150

Payne&Christian150

HayesZell150

SprengerWesthaeffer150

Ames150

Bolles150


Griggs150

RaymonSelleck150

BakerVoorhis150

Townsend150

Mann&Spear150

TurnerBook150

LippincottGrambo150

RaynorEnv#1-150

RaynorEnvelope150

JamiesonGears150

WinslowGearing150

HutchinsSaddle150

GrimsleySaddle150

MaySaddles150

BurdellUhler150

Kerfoot150

SchaefferSaddle150

CarlinAnvil150

ByronAnvil150

FallCunningham150

ConradRoberts150

Walker150

Cool150

WaringKing150

Drolet150

EasternOil150

CosaloIron#1-150

WilsonBarrel150

CambridgeCoalOil(JR)150

Read(barrel)150

Reid&Davis150

RoumfortBros150

Cooper150

Shepard150

Dodge150

ThornburghEasel150

ForgeConley150

PennFemaleCollege150

Granville150

Hays&Morse150

Hurlbutt&Thomas150

Jenkins150

HalseyOilVitriol150

Borradaile150

GillettKing150Kinsman150

DouglassMoore150

ShafferWallpaper150

Sigler150WhitlockFrames150


Conrad&WaltonSaw150

Lyon&Kellogg150

Conrad&Walton150

Sowers&Smith150

MooreCheese150

MorrisVest150

Roome'sSnuff150

SampleMitchell150

Shannon150

Stevens150

CoaleCover150

CoaleBH150

WagerPratt150

Wood&Hunter150

Brickhouse150

SlyPaint150

KayeBell&Brass150

( in Important Events of the Century Centennial Book, p.238 )


CostarAd150

( see also this advertising return cover )





            All images not otherwise indicated are copyrighted by Richard D. Sheaff and not to be used for any purpose without written permission.