Category Archives: Collecting

A Picture (or Two) is Worth a Thousand Words (2)

We recently came across a third copy (on the right) of ‘Sérénade Divine‘ which is printed in brown and gold, using an ink pigmented with bronze powder. The moon completely faded away and Pierrot looks like shrubbery.

We continue our search for bizarre double items in our collection of sheet music. In a previous post, we showed the creativity of illustrators and/or music publishers to produce additional print runs. We don’t have the answers on the why and when of graphical omissions, additions and changes. Some were intended and crudely created. Others happened brilliantly by accident or were economically inspired. When stumbling on these trouvailles we are puzzled, disconcerted, amused or perplexed. Perhaps you’ll share these emotions with us when comparing the following pairs…

Emigrant Valsen‘ (1928): migration to America as the topic of a waltz. Harald Gelotte illustrated the dramatic experience differently for Swedish (left) and Norwegian migrants (on the right). Even the three funnels of the ocean liner had to be decorated correspondingly.
Sheet Music illustrated by R. Keuller (Reine Astrid, partition illustrée par Renée Keuller)
Both covers were designed by Renée Keuller for the 1936 commemoration of Astrid of Sweden, queen of Belgium between 1934 and 1935. She died at the age of 32 in a car crash, and was mourned in Belgium (left cover) in a different style than in Sweden (right edition).
'Paris-Berlin, 1915' sheet music, march by A. Hannay (partition illustrée)
Both these covers seem to make reference to an (implausible) automobile race during WWI. The right copy is a bit more joyous.
In the Forties the publisher relaunched Hannay’s march of WWI, with a makeover of the cover.
Newspaper seller, illustration by Candido de Faria
The drawing by Faria of a running newspaper seller has been reused, and enhanced with an additional bed scene, by another publisher for a different song (with almost the same title). Strange.
The left cover for ‘Susie‘ is likely Roger de Valerio’s original design for the American song (‘If You Knew Susie’) that Salabert launched in France in 1925. Later, when the song became a success at the Moulin Rouge revue, it was important to put a photograph of hit-machine Mistinguett on the cover, thus spoiling the elegance, simplicity and delicacy of the first design.

If you’ve never been to the Moulin Rouge to hear Mistinguett sing Susie, here is your chance!

Perhaps you’d prefer to hear and see the American ‘Susie‘? We found this version sung by Eddie Cantor:

We close this post with a wonderful design for the cover of ‘If You Knew Susie’ by Orla Muff (1925). Classy!


Recto Verso De Luxe

'Poèmes chantées', music by Charpentier
Poèmes chantés‘, music by Gustave Charpentier (Tellier, Paris, s.d., illustrated by George Rochegrosse)

Often the back cover of sheet music shows publicity or part of the publisher’s music catalogue. It is seldom blank. But it is much rarer that the back cover (verso) is illustrated to form a whole with the front. Something that today is common on e.g. book wrappers. In our collection of sheet music we found only six of such ‘full covers’. These were probably luxury editions as we can imagine the cost of making such large lithographic plates. We happily share these ‘specials’ with you.

'Chansons frêles'
Chansons frêles‘ composed by André Fijan (Ricordi, Paris, s.d., illustrator unknown)
'Renouveau', composed by Augusta Holmes
Renouveau‘ composed by Augusta Holmes (Ricordi, Paris, 1894, illustrated by Alfredo Montalti)
'l'Elégant - quadrille: Aux dames de France', music by Casquil, dance by E. Louis (publisher unknown, s.d., illustration signed E.D. monogram)
l’Elégant – quadrille: Aux dames de France‘, music by Casquil, dance by E. Louis (publisher unknown, s.d., illustration signed E.D. monogram)
''t Is Feest in het land...', music by P. Standaart (Vlieger, Rotterdam, s.d., illustrated by Hendrik van Kesteren) Click image to enlarge
‘t Is Feest in het land…‘, music by P. Standaart (Vlieger, Rotterdam, s.d., illustrated by Hendrik van Kesteren)
'Klingende Illustrierde', music by various composers (Curtius, Berlin, 1943, illustrated by Kurt Hilscher) Click image to enlarge
Klingende Illustrierte‘, music by various composers (Curtius, Berlin, 1943, illustrated by Kurt Hilscher)

A Picture (or Two) is Worth a Thousand Words

Previously we told the story about double items in our illustrated sheet music collection. In that post we showed how publishers boldly used lithoshopping. What follows are more images that leave us slightly puzzled (and amused) as to the how and why of certain changes. Which image came first? Was the modification in print inspired by a surge of creativity? Who ordered the change? Is the result an improvement or a pictorial disaster?

But can you spot all the differences? Ready, steady, go!

Sphinx?‘, a mysterious woman or statue. The 1906 edition (right) accentuates the hypnotic stare or music by Francis Poppy. Illustration by H. Viollet-Douhin.


Toboggan‘, lithographed by L. Marci (Brussels, 1907). The adult version (on the left) and the children’s version (right) tried to target different audiences.


‘Der letzte Walzer‘, illustrated by W. Ortmann (1920). In the American version on the right the lady has lost her colour and subtlety.


La Valse Chaloupée‘ from the Moulin Rouge revue in 1908. On the right the dancers Max Dearly and Mistinguett are prominently in the picture. On the left it is Paul Dalbret‘s turn to make his partner swoon. Both images by Léon Pousthomis.


Epous’ là‘ (Marry Her), the 1923 Parisian revue. The pointing arrows in the right version to indicate which star interprets the song, was probably too much of a hassle with later reprints. The original idea was abandoned (left) in favour of an inappropriate lacework.


For this polka the dangerous game on the banister (left) was wilfully (?) censored on the right. Better safe than sorry.


The beautiful drawing by Swedish illustrator and caricaturist Nils Melander for the world-wide success ‘The Match Parade‘ has largely been respected in the French version (right) save for some details and texts.


The version of ‘Les Bouquets‘ (s.d.) on the right is a complete makeover of the drawing of poster designer Robert Gazay. No signature on the second one, so maybe a ‘lesser’ artist was hired a couple of years later to design a more contemporary variation of the cover.


Ell’ s’était fait couper les cheveux‘, the ode to the bob haircut, immortalised by Choppy in 1924. While publisher Maillochon payed the printer the cost of at least 5 colours for the version on the right, only 3 colours were necessary to achieve the same catchy effect on the left. In fact I do prefer the left one. 


The ‘Sérénade Divine‘ by Pierrot on the left might look divine, but the lady on the right is probably in for a ghostly surprise when she opens her eyes… Published by Louis Aerts in 1922.


Hab’ ein blaues Himmelbett!‘ – The man on the left, luring ladies with his blue canopy bed, resembles the Austrian operetta tenor Hubert Marischka. For the Italian version of the famous song of Léhar’s Frasquita on the right, illustrator von Ferenchich had to re-engineer his drawing with… another head.  (1922)


Czech sheet music cover variations (1919, illustrator unknown): at least the dog doesn’t seem to be surprised by the child’s change in hair dress.


Ninette!‘, the naughty version on the right (rattling teacups!) was probably to attract the more daring monsieurs. Clérice must have had a laugh redrawing this collector item in the stone (published by H. Christiné, Paris, 1909)