$200 GRANT! I'm a little disappointed that nobody so far has helped solve this mystery. I'm offering $200 to whomever gives me the most help in tracking down this mystery over the next week (I'll decide 9/19). It has to be a meaningful contribution. Here's my question "My primary mystery is the image where an apparently good little mythical creature is capturing an evil little creature in a box or trunk. It has a caption of “Iv'e got him” sic." (Is this allowed? If not, apologies but the offer stands!)I'm trying to better understand the mythology or folklore behind some jokers designed in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Can anyone help? I have three sets of images that I'm curious about and one that I think I understand described below. I primarily announced this on a big Facebook folklore/history group but I'm repeating it here. To reach me, put a comment in the post with how to reach you (I won't approve the comment).
The big mystery for me is the first card where an apparently good little mythical creature is capturing an evil little creature in a box or trunk. It has a caption of “Iv'e got him” sic. Does this image reflect any story that might have been known in the US in the late 1800s?
They might be imps or elves or spirits or leprechauns (weren’t the Irish immigrating in great numbers at that time?). It was first published in 1895 by the Standard Playing Card Company based in St Louis and Chicago.
Here are my three jokers with the same image, the other two were published by the same company after it was bought by the US Playing Card Co but while it was run as an independent company.
This next joker card was first published in 1885 by National Card Company of Indianapolis and NY and it shows a bunny rabbit being hatched from an egg. Behind him, there are two small mystical creatures with a tool for hitting sort of like a pickaxe. It has an acorn on it. It is either to help the bunny break the egg or to bonk the bunny on his head. While it's clear that the little folk are surprised, it's not clear to me whether they are scared by the bunny or just surprised. It appears, using current thinking, to be Easter-related. Anyone know anything about them?
This fourth set of images on jokers with the three little mystical creatures is not a mystery to me. They are the Brownies as depicted by Palmer Cox in the late 1800s. They were widely known back then as the Palmer Brownies. They were popular in cartoon strips, books, and video games. OK, I'm kidding about the video games but they were so popular that the name was used for a Kodak Brownie Camera, the youngest girl scout levels, and a brand of mixes for chocolate Brownies. I wonder sometimes how much the National Playing Card Company (Indianapolis and NY) would have paid for the right to put these brownies on their jokers.
Here are some articles about my older American jokers:
And here are some nice happy mostly contemporary dog jokers!