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

Female Globetrotters

‘Globetrotter’ by Antonio Tosca, published by A. Cranz (Brussels, 1902).

At the end of the 19th century a new type of leisurely traveller made its appearance: the  globetrotter. Steamship connections, the extension of railways in the colonies and the opening of the Suez canal shortened the travel time a lot. Of course recreational travel was then an exclusive pleasure for wealthy (European) men. Female travellers had to challenge the notions of their time that travel was unsuitable for their sex. But nonetheless it was a woman, Nellie Bly, who first broke the fictional record set by Jules Vernes’ Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days.

Nellie Bly in 1890. The original caption reads: “Nellie Bly, The New York WORLD’S correspondent who place a girdle round the earth in 72 days, 6 hours, and 11 minutes.” (source: New York Public Library – Digital Collections)

Nellie Bly (or Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman) who was an acclaimed reporter at New York World magazine boarded a steamer in 1889 and began her journey. Travelling alone she toured to most of the places that Fogg visited during his journey. She even met Jules Verne when passing through France. Nellie arrived in New York just over 72 days after her departure.

Left: ‘Nellie Blye’s Tour Around the World’ by Chas. D. Blake published by Chas. D. Blake & Co. (Boston, 1890). Right: ‘Globe Trotting Nellie Bly’ by Joe Hart published by Willis Woodward & Co. (New York, 1890). Source: Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries.

About twenty years later Elisabeth Yates also attempted a record to travel around the world, but this time on foot. Luckily for us her adventure was rather well documented by Clyde Sanger in his story for ‘The Guardian from London’ (December 9, 1959). It goes like this.

Elisabeth or Lizzie was born in Yorkshire UK. After the dead of her mother she sought her luck overseas and emigrated to Canada. There she performed on stage under the name of Elsie Kelsey. She then went to live in America where she met Harry Humphries whom she married. Both keen walkers, they took a ‘short’ honeymoon walk of 4.000 km from New York to Florida and back. It took them two months. It also got Mrs Humphries the attention from the editor of the New York ‘Polo Monthly‘ magazine. It was he who challenged her to walk 48.000 miles around the world in four years. For this she would get a reward of 10.000 dollar. Not worth the candle according to a then journalist. But Mrs Humphries and her husband, who had decided to accompany her, thought otherwise and they started to prepare their journey.

Mr & Mrs Harry Humphries

Harry, an embroiderer and tattooist by profession, designed their khaki costumes. Lizzie wore a blouse and skirt, a soft hat and knee-high waterproof walking boots. A knapsack with a sweater and a few necessities completed her outfit. One of these necessities was a revolver. In July 1911 the Humphries couple —or the Kelsey Kids as they named themselves— left New York for Canada. From there they sailed to in England in late November. The two lived on milk and farinaceous food, eating little meat and never drinking water. One of the terms of the wager was that they could only live on hospitality but should not beg, borrow or steal. To finance their journey they gave lectures. In January the couple arrived in Manchester. There Harry had a ‘nervous breakdown’ and returned to America. The truth is, he ran away abandoning Lizzie and their round-the-world walking tour, taking all of their money with him.

Our Lady Globetrotter though continued her voyage, this time accompanied by a dog as a more loyal companion. She wanted to show that women dare to walk “in all kinds of weather, day and night and in countries whose language they cannot speak.”

Lizzie had planned to walk across Africa, Asia and Australia. She would then sail to South America and travel northwards back to New York. But her plans came to nothing. For two years she kept walking back and forth across Europe. The reason for this is that Lizzie had engaged an agent, and the course of her journey depended on the contracts he could sell. By then she enlivened her lectures with films about her walks.

‘The Globe Trotters March’ by Max Uyma published by Förenade Biograf. Förlag (Stockholm, 1912).

The sheet music The Globe Trotters March was published while Lizzie was walking in Sweden in 1912. The following film from 1913 shows Lizzie in Düsseldorf. The cheerful man with his practical jokes, is believed to be her agent.

When the Great War broke out, Lizzie was still in Düsseldorf and had to leave her trunk full of memories behind and flee from Germany. She had ‘only’ walked 10.000 miles, so she did not fulfil the wager and did not get the $10.000 prize money.

A few months later, in 1914, she walked 5.000 miles from New York to San Francisco. Her aim was to gather funds for the benefit of the Red Cross on the battlefield of Europe. This shows that our Lady Globetrotter had the heart in the right place.

We cannot but think that when her scoundrel of a husband Harry deserted her, she might have found solace from Nancy’s vengeful words…


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?

'Ceci et ça' about Illustrated Sheet Music