Thursday, May 29, 2014

The illustrated Cory Binder, 1906-25

[1] Chicago, 1915 – Look Out For Motorcycle Mike! original color sketch by Frank King.

by John Adcock

WHO’S WHO?… This utterly fascinating Who’s Who, bursting with original art and autographs of early cartoonists and illustrators, recently turned up in the Midwestern United States. Early this year I was asked: Could I shed any light on who exactly might have collected these sketches and signatures in pen and ink?

RING BINDER. The material has been collected in a ring binder – I now call the Cory Binder – that has a number of puzzling aspects; most baffling is its provenance. The book obviously was compiled by someone named Cory, but was the compilation the work of the famous cartoonist J. Campbell Cory or some other Cory?

[2] The Chicago binder page signed by J. Campbell Cory. The ‘(15)’ in the top right-hand corner suggests the year 1915.
FRIEND CORY. J. Campbell Cory’s own full signature appears only once in the binder, on a page titled ‘CHICAGO’ which appears to have been signed in 1915. Even though the monogram on the binder is not ‘J.C.C.’ but ‘J.W.C.’ this binder might have belonged to the well-known cartoonist J. Campbell Cory, because there are many notations that refer to ‘Cory,’ ‘Mr. Cory,’ ‘friend Cory,’ etc. 

[3] The ‘J.W.C.’ embossed cover initials.
CURLY C. The object is in the form of a leather-bound loose-leaf binder, embossed with the initials ‘J.W.C.,’ in which are 42 unpaged leaves; some pages are blank or near blank, others show signatures and sketches, spot color is used. The curly C was a trademark of J. Campbell Cory’s – but the middle initial doesn’t match. 

69 ON A PAGE. Many (but not all) of the pages are artistically titled with names of US cities. The signatures – one page from New York City holds 69 of them – are of persons affiliated with commercial art, of advertisers, newspapers, magazine publishers and printing companies between 1906 and 1925. The binder measures 20 x 28 cm – or for us metric-deficient types, 8 in. x 10 3/8 in. Pages measure about 15.5 x 25.5 cm (6 x 10 in.)

[4] A 1912 newspaper advertisement with Cory’s curly C signature compared with the binder’s cover initials.
CITIES AND DATES. The pages are not in any particular order. Chicago has the dates 1923 and 1925 on page 7B, New York City is dated 1909 on 16A, and Washington DC is dated 1913 on 27A. There are pages from Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Twin Cities, Grand Rapids, Omaha, Des Moines, St. Louis, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Columbus, Dayton, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Wisconsin, New York and Toronto. Most signatures are of people who can be matched to the cities each page represents. The dates may represent the date of that person’s signature only – other signatures could have been added in different years and times.
[5] Chicago, 1915.
CORY’S BOOKS. At first glance it would seem to be a simple autograph book but then Cory and “his books” are mentioned. There are also many references to Burton Holmes (of the Burton Holmes travelogue fame) and his books. On the ‘DETROIT – NOW’ page (1922) a cartoon by Thomas of the Detroit News shows the cartoonist reading a volume of ‘Cory’s Books’ and exclaiming “OH BOY!! ME FOR THE SOUTH SEA ISLANDS!” This suggests to me that ‘Cory’s books’ refers to Burton Holmes Travelogues rather than J. Campbell Cory’s Art of Cartooning which was reprinted in 1922.

[6] Detroit – Now, 1922.
COUSIN J.W.C. The earliest pages date back to 1906. In 1903 John Campbell Cory had taken up residence at Helena, Montana where he lived with his father (his mother Jessie had died much earlier at Waukegan, in 1888), brother Robert, uncle David, and cousin James Warren Cory. After some time he moved into the Monticello Hotel. This James Warren Cory is the only person we could find in J. Campbell Cory’s circle whose initials matched the J.W.C. embossed on the Cory Binder cover. The Helena, Montana City, Directory for 1902 and 1903 lists James W. Cory as a bookkeeper. The 1904 Directory lists him as a cashier for Gans and Klein. He lived with his parents in Helena, Montana until his death in 1939.

[7] Denver.
GOLF BALL MARKER. John Campbell Cory moved back to New York in 1905. Spring of that year found him working for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper as a cartoonist. He filed a patent for his golf ball marker on March 31, 1906. Our deduction is the following. Possibly J.C.C. invented the marker while he was in Montana, used his invention to emboss the binder for his cousin J.W.C., and when he left town, took his cousin’s binder with him.

[8] Chicago, 1919.
FATHER CORY. I have also considered Benjamin Sayre Cory, the father of J. Campbell, as the compiler. He too was in Helena from 1903 until 1910, a boarder at various hotels and rooming houses. During his lifetime he had been a newspaper editor and a traveling salesman. He died in 1913 at Chicago. If it were his binder he could have passed it on to his son J. Campbell Cory who resided in Chicago that year on W. Madison Street. In the 1880 census enumerated at Waukegan, Illinois, both Benjamin Sayre Cory and his brother David Abner Cory are listed as traveling salesmen. David A. Cory was the father of  James Warren Cory. The two brothers lived together in Helena, Montana, until David’s death in 1913.

[9] Detroit Overflow, 1921.
CARICATURED? The drawing on the lower left-hand corner represents Cory, the binders compiler and apparent travelling salesman, selling the British Isles volume of Burton Holmes’ Travelogues to the unidentified cartoonist in 1921. The drawing is vague but doesn’t seem to bear much resemblance to the real-life J. Campbell Cory. In The History of Colorado a section on John Campbell Cory quotes an unidentified source describing him as a little man with a big sense of humor and an inexhaustable fund of talent.” The above caricature is not a caricature of a small round-faced man.

[10] The original R.F. Heinrich drawing from Annual of Advertising, 1921.
[11] Detroit Then, 1907.
DETROIT. The page for Detroit Then carries the date 1907 (page 2A in the binder), Detroit – Now has 1922 (page 2B), Detroit Overflow (page 3A) has the year 1921.

[12] Dayton, Ohio.
GOLF AFICIONADO. There are two references to Burton Holmes’ Travelogues and one reference to golf. John Campbell Cory was a lifelong aficionado of the sport.

[13] The Twin-Cities Again, 1924.
MINING. The image middle right looks to represent a mining concern – possibly a smelter – though it could be a sawmill. Mining was a major preoccupation of J. Campbell Cory and his father Benjamin Sayre Cory.

[14] Canada.
CANADA. The Canada page is autographed by cartoonist Newton McConnell. The Cory family had deep family ties with Canada. John Campbell Cory’s mother was born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, his father Benjamin Sayre Cory Jr and his grandfather Benjamin Sayre Cory were born at Wellington, Ontario.

[15] Omaha, Des Moines, St. Joe, Cedar Rapids, 1912.
MR. CORY. Once again we have a caricature of “Mr. Cory in action selling his book,” this time in 1912. Again I see little resemblance to the cartoonist J. Campbell Cory with his round face and pug-nose. And he is pictured with a moustache. Mr. Cory – whoever he was? – spent many years selling the Burton Holmes books which may have been used as reference works for artists in commercial art studios. Could the Mr.Cory’ have been Helena, Montana cousin James Warren Cory?

[16] Washington, 1913.
MYSTERIES. So, who was the mysterious Cory who compiled this baffling autographic record from the golden age of newspaper illustration? It would be nice if I could give a definitive answer, unfortunately I can’t do this with certainty – yet. The only reason to suspect that this was J. Campbell Cory’s binder is his signature on page 11A and the curious curly C embossed on its front cover. The caricatures bear no resemblance to the many portraits and caricatures of Cory that do exist. And, any pages for Montana – where Cory spent a great period of his life both in 1903 and from 1918 until his death – are missing.

[17] Business Screen Magazine, 1938.
BLANKS. Cousin James Warren Cory is a bit of a blank, he doesn't seem to have traveled much outside Montana. Father Benjamin Sayres Cory died in 1913 but entries continue into 1924 – so does the connection with Burton Holmes Travelogues. It’s just still possible that the Cory of the binder was not related to the cartoonist at all. First name or last name, this Cory may have simply been a traveling salesman working directly for Burton Holmes company and the binder may have been a record of his various connections. More illustrators than cartoonists are recorded in the binder and any artist would have found the Travelogues the most helpful reference for world costumes and backgrounds for their drawings and paintings.

[18] Embossed front cover of the illustrated Cory Binder.
Look Out For Motorcycle Mike! strips HERE.

A Rambling Life – J. Campbell Cory (1867-1925) HERE.

1 comment:

  1. This is an incredible piece of history. Two things popped into my mind: might it have been gathered by John C. for James W? That is, JC took pages around to be signed by people he knew in the biz, then sent them to his cousin, who assembled them? Depends on the relationship between the two men and doesn't explain the references to Holmes' Travelogues.

    Also given the various ways "Cory" is used in the cartoons I'd say it's likelier to be a last name than a first name...I don't get the impression that most of these guys knew Cory well enough to use his first name, especially given the time period. Good luck on sorting out this mystery.