The Staff of Life

16 04 2015

This logo for Ballard’s Obelisk Flour is from a vintage piece of stationary from the Ballard & Ballard Company, c. 1910. It features the three most iconic elements of ancient Egypt – the Sphinx, a pyramid, and an obelisk. Because branding (the incorporation of a snazzy design element representative of your company into all aspects of what you do) is a great idea, the historic Ballard building in Memphis also features fabulous Egyptianizing ornamentation.

Ballard stationary-detail

Remember Me When This Pyramid You See

20 03 2015

Once upon a time there was a man named James Buchanan. He was President of the United States. Then he died, but that’s not The End. His niece donated land for a park to honor his memory, which includes a rustic stone pyramid on the site of Jame’s family home. You can read more about it here. And you can visit and compare this vintage postcard view to what you see there.

Buchanan tomb

Before the Hustle….

19 02 2015

…there was the Fox Trot, a ragtime invention that lasted well into future decades. Although I try to limit my collection to American items, I could not resist this sheet music from a London publisher. Gyptia was composed in 1920 and the cover art is a fun melange of ancient symbols and figures getting their shimmy on.

Gyptia sheet music

A Close Shave

6 02 2015

Endurance was a popular theme for products that used Egyptianizing graphics. In this case – “Eterna” razor blades, the eternity blade. This fold-out cardstock store display contains nine original boxes of blades, but since they are still sealed in their cellophane wrapping, I am not going to open one and tell you if they still work. You’ll just have to take the manufacturer’s, or the Sphinx’s, word that they do.


Eterna razor box

The Hourglass of Time

12 01 2015

During the 1940s, Egyptomania went into hibernation. Examples were few and far between, and severely restrained in comparison to the extravagant, sometimes garish, examples from the 1920s. This sheet music cover from 1947 is a great example of how Egyptianizing elements were downplayed – here, the primary focus is the hourglass, apparently twirling in a time vortex that has also captured two hearts (high school yearbook, anyone?). But, in the background, veiled through the mists of the ages, you can just make out the sphinx and pyramids. See? Trust me, they’re there!

It Takes Time sheet music_small

Two-Step Under the Stars

29 12 2014

Another instrumental piece of sheet music, from 1912. Check out the ‘his’ and ‘hers’ mummy cases giving each other the eye.

Under Egyptian Skies 1912_small

A Wise Old Nut Was Old King Tut

22 12 2014

Old King Tut sheet music 1923_small

Lyrics – William Jerome
Music – Harry Von Tilzer
Publisher – Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co., New York, 1923

Three thousand years ago,
In history we know,
King Tutenkhamen ruled a mighty land.
He ruled for many years,
‘Mid laughter, song and tears,
He made a record that will always stand.
They opened up his tomb the other day and jumped with glee,
They learned a lot of ancient history.

In old King Tut – Tut – Tutenkhamen’s day,
Beneath the tropic skies
King Tut-Tut-Tut was very wise
Now old King Tut – Tut – Tut was always gay,
Cleopatra she sat upon his knee
Pat! That’s where she sat.

Now old King Tut was just a nut as you can see,
Still proud was Tut about his Beechnut ancestry.
A thousand girls would dance each day,
With lots of hip-hip-hip-hooray,
In old King Tut-Tut – Tut-Tut-Tut-Tut
King Tutty’s day.

His tomb instead of tears,
Was full of souveniers,
He must have travelled greatly in his time.
The gold and silver ware,
That they found hidden there,
Was from hotels of every land and clime.
While going thru his royal robes they found up in his sleeve,
The first love letter Adam wrote to Eve.

In old King Tut – Tut – Tutenkhamen’s day,
The dancers then in style
Would even make the old Sphinx smile.
In old King Tut – Tut – Tutenkhamen’s day,
On the desert sand old King Tutty’s band
Played while maidens swayed.

They’d dance for old King Tut ‘neath moon-lit skies so warm,
They wore such happy smiles and were in perfect form,
They’d dance for him both fat and thin,
He didn’t care what shape they’re in,
In old King Tut-Tut – Tut-Tut-Tut-Tut
King Tutty’s day.


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