Category Archives: Collecting

Mysterious Phenomena In Illustrated Sheet Music – Part 2

Mystery?‘ – A foxtrot by Joseph A. Cirina. Published by Herman Darewski (London,1919) and illustrated by Lionel S. Reiss.

The world of sheet music illustration never stops to amaze the assiduous collector. She/he has to face up to mysteries that defy the imagination, pictorial challenges to her or his ingenuity. The collector stumbles in an enigmatic world where things become unexplainable and surpass fantasy. Here is the continuation of our popular series on accidentally —sometimes wilfully— assembling duplicates.

The Apparition of the Seaside Resort

Two almost identical covers published by 'Zalig plekje aan zee' composed by A. Van Oest (LEFT) and 'Mooi Zandvoort' by Vorrattie. Both publishe by B H Smit (Amsterdam)
Zalig plekje aan zee‘ composed by A. Van Oest (LEFT) and ‘Mooi Zandvoort‘ by Vorrattie (RIGHT). Published by B H Smit (Amsterdam, s.d.). Illustrator: D. Coene.

The Case of the Blue Hat

Two striking versions of 'Camouflage' sheet music illustration
Camouflage‘, One-Step by James Bodewalt Lamp. LEFT: the 1917 publication by Jerome Remick (NY, Detroit), not in our collection. RIGHT: the redrawn version by Francis Salabert (Paris). Unknown illustrator.

The Subtle Substitution

Fleur de Cerisier‘ and ‘Fleur de Pommier‘. Composed by Adrian de Lorme, published by Duff & Stewart (London, s.d.) and illustrated by William Spalding.

The Instrument Swap

Whistling Rufus‘, a Two-Step Polka or Cake-Walk by Kerry Mills. LEFT: the original guitar publication by Mills, F. A. (New York, s.d., unknown illustrator). RIGHT: the Swedish banjo version published by Carl Gehrman (Stockholm), s.d., illustrated by Nils Ringström.

The Apprentice Twins

Le Petit Mousse Noir‘, a Romance by P. Cheret & Marc Constantin. LEFT: undated publication by Choudens (Paris, s.d.). RIGHT: publication by Mayence (Anvers & Bruxelles, s.d.). Unknown illustrator.
Previous episodes

How Absurd

'Pepper Pot' sheet music cover illustration,
Pepper Pot‘, a novelty dance by Harold Ivers. Published by Witmark, M. & Sons (New York, 1913) and illustrated by André De TaKacs.

Rather absurd,  I mumbled while surfing the net recently. I was left perplexed by how our blog Images Musicales Stories leaves ludicrous traces on the global network. I want to tell you about it. But first, a pair of absurd music illustrations, as a warm-up.

'Five O'Clock' sheet music by Maurice Ravel
Five O’Clock‘, Maurice Ravel’s fox trot, published by A. Durand & Fils (Paris, 1925) and illustrated by R. Vallet.
Five O’Clock‘, Maurice Ravel’s fox trot, also published by A. Durand & Fils (Paris). Copyright is 1925 but the illustration from Maurice Le Palud is dated 1931.

A few years ago we fabricated a pastiche to illustrate a post on the sheet music covers created by René Magritte. Yes, excessively photoshopped from an original Magritte cover.

A pictorial farce accompanying our previous article (2016) on the illustrative work by René Magritte.

The image was a tongue-in-cheek remark on the surrealistic potentials of Magritte’s cover for Prière à mon Ange. You will understand our surprise that this little joke was copied to an Italian website as if it was the work of René Magritte himself!
How surreal.

Screenshot (April 11th, 2020) of an Italian website discussing and showing Magritte’s publicitary designs.

Next is an even more absurd story. In 2014 we published an article on the life and work of Wolfgang Ortmann. The post was documented with more than a dozen high-resolution scans of our sheet music collection. Alas, at the time we didn’t feel the need to digitally stamp these images. A ‘rascal’ based in New Zealand copied our images, photoshopped the most ‘offensive’ tears and wrinkles, and felt the commercial urge to bundle them in a calendar. A CALENDAR!

We couldn’t resist ordering such a calendar from New Zealand. Only 3 available items left! For $12,99 plus shipping costs it was ours.And now we have our beautiful Ortmann covers —which we patiently collected over many years, documented and cared for, and which travelled electronically to the other side of the world— printed on ordinary A4 paper and bundled in a cheap plastic ring on our desk. Look what they’ve done to my song Ma?

Silver Sleigh Bells

'Silver Sleigh Bells' by E. T. Paull.
Silver Sleigh Bells‘ by E. T. Paull, published by E. T. Paull Music Co (New York, 1906). Lithograph A. Hoen & Co.

All aboard! Here is your fast ride to the Christmas excitement. Prepare for throngs of frenzied shoppers, glühwein, noisy Santas and their tiresome ho ho’s.
This week it is composer-businessman E. T. Paull who sets the start of our story. Edward Paull (1858-1924) was an American publisher who master-minded a perfect mix of image and music. An attractive and dramatic cover is the best way to market your music, he must have thought. On the other hand, he also wanted his compositions to tell stories, and to that purpose he even added explanatory notes inside the sheet music!

Explanatory text to the 'Silver Sleigh Bells'.
Explanatory‘ – instructive text on how the music should be interpreted, and what narrative it expresses (p.2 of the ‘Silver Sleigh Bells’ sheet music).

Sheet music from E. T. Paull has long been considered as the crème de la crème amongst US collectors, not in the least because Paull boasted on using the five colour process of his lithographers A. Hoen & Company. But ink transfer from the stone to the paper is a delicate process. It can go wrong.

A lithographic misprint of 'Silver Sleigh Bells'
Two editions of ‘Silver Sleigh Bells’. The one on the right shows the horses and the sleighs as a big dark blob. A lithographic misprint.

I am not a connoisseur of E. T. Paull’s work. That’s why I refer to interesting sites on the subject at the end of this post.

Unfortunately, the topic of Christmas has inspired many illustrators and publishers to dull and bland covers. However, some designers went out of their way to avoid stereotypes and succeeded in creating striking cover illustrations. For your entertainment and fine taste, we selected some of these ‘original’ sheet music. Consider it your Christmas gift from Images Musicales.
Happy Christmas and have a good time!

Smaal sheet music illustrated by Punch
Noël de Pierrot et de Colombine‘ by Léo Lelièvre. Published by Henri Pascal (Paris, s.d.) and illustrated by Punch.
Illustration of a 1926 sheet music cover attributed to Isaac Grünewald.
Juleljus (Julsång)’ by Gösta Jahn and Zacharias Topelius. Published by Elkan & Schildknecht, Emil Carelius (Stockholm, 1926). Illustration attributed to Isaac Grünewald.
Sheet Music cover 'Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht ; Weihnachten' by Fritz Kirchner
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht ; Weihnachten‘ by Fritz Kirchner. Published by Emil Hunger (Berlin, s.d.). Illustrator unknown.
Sheet music 'Der Weihnachtsengel' illustrated by Linge.
Der Weihnachtsengel‘ by Richard Krentzlin. Published by Birnbach (Berlin, 1920). Illustration by Linge.

Further reading: a few pages on the net are dedicated to the life and work of E. T. Paull, amongst others at the Parlor Songs Academy and on ‘Perfessor’ Bills website.
To see more covers of E. T. Paull, visit the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection.

Not enough Christmas covers? Look here in our sheet music collection.