Hand Blocked Colored Prints of the Gay 90’s. [Boxed linen cocktail napkin set]
“Pure linen, hand fringed, hand rolled cocktail napkins." Box-style book with heavy card covers, 8 x 6 x .5 inches. 2 leaves of text + 8 linen napkins (5 x 7 in.) loosely tacked to plain leaves with thread. Paper label on the bottom wall in the style of a linen stock box, adamantly “Made in France” (but maybe misleadingly–the linen doth protest too much, methinks?) Two sets of four illustrations, each represented in two color schemes. A Very Good+ copy with rubbing to the exterior and bending in areas, but the structure is intact (not crushed) and the linens are effectively untouched.
The representation of social themes in textiles flourished in the 1920s and ‘30s. This set has no formal attribution, but the style is strongly reminiscent of the Jazz Age political cartoons of John Held Jr. and includes imagery familiar to some of his other work. We know that Held produced other prints on textiles, several held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but we can’t say definitively whether or not he designed these. We can say that the cartoonish nostalgia for the tipsier 1890s in the imagery of imbibing bobbies, dandy velocipedes and merry drunkards is certainly evocative of late prohibition-era humor and social sentiment. An elusive item, with no listings in OCLC.