Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dogs Playing Poker

A Friend in Need
Most everybody in the entire universe has seen at least one of those paintings where a bunch of dogs are sitting around a table, playing poker.  There are actually 16 paintings in this group, and they were all painted by a man named Cassius Marcellus Coolidge.  And the reason he painted them was because a company called Brown and Bigelow paid him to do the paintings so they could use them to advertise their cigars.  Which is why you will notice that many of the dogs that are playing poker are also smoking cigars.



Anyway, Mr. Coolidge was born in 1844 in Antwerp, New York.  His friends called him "Cash" because I guess "Cassius" made him sound like a Roman statesman or something.  Mr. Coolidge never really studied to be an artist, although he always liked to make drawings and cartoons.  At Eastman College, he studied stuff like bookkeeping, math, and commercial law.  Then he worked as a banker for a while.

After that, Mr. Coolidge did a lot of other things, such as owning a drugstore, traveling to Europe, and taking a few lessons from a portrait painter in New York City.  He drew cartoons for his local paper and also worked as a "lightning cartoonist," which meant he made sketches of people in front of a crowd, and everybody in the crowd had to pay 25 or 50 cents to get to watch.

Pinched With Four Aces
Besides the dogs playing poker, another good idea that Mr. Coolidge had was to make these things called Comic Foregrounds.  And what these are is big painted cartoon characters with their faces cut out so that you can stand behind them and stick your own face through the hole and get your picture taken.  These were very popular back when Mr. Coolidge first invented them, and they are still around today.






His Station and Four Aces
Mr. Coolidge did not get married until he was 64 years old, and then he married a woman named Gertrude Kimmell, who was 29.  They had a daughter who was named Marcella.  After that, they moved to Brooklyn, where they lived for many years.  Mr. Coolidge fell and hurt himself, so he found it hard to work and support the family.  Also people weren't buying as many of his Comic Foreground things anymore.  So Mrs. Coolidge went to work as a file clerk in a law firm, and Mr. Coolidge stayed home and did housework, which was not the way people lived in those days, but it worked for the Coolidge family.  On January 13, 1934, Mr. Coolidge died at the age of 89.  His wife died on August 4, 1977.

A Bold Bluff
People like to make fun of the paintings that Mr. Coolidge did of the dogs playing poker, but they have shown up on all kinds of products through the years.  Also they have been imitated a lot, and maybe you have heard that old saying that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."









Waterloo
In 2005, two of the paintings, A Bold Bluff and Waterloo, were auctioned off, and people thought they would sell for between $30,000 and $50,000.  But guess what!  They sold for $590,400!  So I guess that means somebody really and truly likes these paintings and not just because they like to laugh at them.









Dogs Playing Pool
Anyway, Mr. Coolidge mostly only painted male dogs doing what males did to entertain themselves in the early 1900s.  And besides playing poker, they also played pool, as you can see in this painting.













New Year's Eve in Dogville


But one painting that really does have girl dogs in it is this one, where a bunch of dogs are at a dance on New Year's Eve.













While doing my research, I discovered that it's not just dogs who play poker.  For instance, longhorns can play poker, too.











And so can Tikis.











And dogs can play poker in a different setting, such as at The Last Supper.

Okay, I'd better quit writing now because Mom says some people might be offended by the Last Supper picture.  But she didn't say I had to take it out of my blog, so that's good!

16 comments:

  1. Thank. I found that to be very informative and entertaining!
    Aunt Lynn

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  2. Good blog as always Piper. Enjoyed seeing the different dogs playing poker pictures. I was offended by the last one, but I will let it pass. You did good!

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  3. I'm glad everybody mostly found my blog to be interesting and entertaining today. I am sorry about the last picture being offensive to the 3 amigos. Thank you for not being too horribly mad at me for putting it in. Mom said you could blame her if you want to, but that you shouldn't take it out on a poor, innocent basenji girl like myself!

    Your friend, Piper

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  4. Lots of stuff I didn't know about today. We have some longhorns (or maybe just one, i don't know) in our freezer. They are very tasty.

    -Zest, superstar in training

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  5. Dear Zest,
    Are the longhorns in your freezer playing poker? I never ate any longhorns, but we have some bison hot dogs in our freezer. Maybe Mom will let us eat some of them.
    Your friend, Piper

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  6. Nope, they're playing dead.

    hahahahaha

    -Z

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  7. Dear badloi,
    Thanks for writing a comment about my blog. I'm really glad you liked it!
    Sincerely, Piper

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  8. haha, this is good. thank you!

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  9. I'm glad you like my blog! Thanks for writing a comment about it!

    Sincerely, Piper

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  10. jesus has gone to the dogs

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  11. Can I use your pic "A friend in Need" on my website? It is a great pic..
    Cheers
    John

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    Replies
    1. I think it is in the public domain, so it's probably okay to use it. I am being more cautious about such things now than I was at the time I wrote this blog entry, but nobody has griped at me so far about my use of this picture!

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  12. Thanks Piper.. I thought that you drew this image... It would be great if you can send me the link or the webpage where you found it..If its too hard, dont worry abt it
    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Just do a Google search on A Friend in Need Painting. You will find tons of web pages with the image.

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