Armchair Traveler

18 09 2017

The end of the Victorian era produced numerous travel journals by both scholars and Joe Adventurer, all equally suspect in terms of veracity but at least full of interesting imagery and bound in eye-catching covers. This example, Our New Way Round the World, by the colorfully surnamed Charles Carleton Coffin, was published in 1887. It is not exclusively about Egypt, but iconography from the land was chosen for the cover art. As usual, “artistic” license was taken with some, though not all, illustrations.


Town Crier

15 11 2016

I had the pleasure of visiting Centralia, Illinois this month and swung by the Sentinel Newspaper building, which is a fabulous 1920’s Egyptian Revival structure. Because my blog is solely about my collection of Egyptomania objects, you’ll have to look at other people’s photos of this building online. But here is a scan of their newspaper heading, which has now been added to my stash. “Egypt’s Greatest Daily” refers to the nickname of that region – the lower sixteen counties of Illinois are correctly called Egypt (incorrectly called Little Egypt, even by locals, who forget that this moniker refers to a hoochy-koochy dancer at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.)


Descending Like Flies

20 02 2012

Here is an amusing illustration from an 1899 article, “By Trolley to the Sphinx”, about tourism and Egypt, published in The Cosmopolitan.  Poor Sphinxy looks a bit alarmed by the crowd of admirers flocking to his feet.  Danged tourists!  Litter, missing bits of monuments, camera flashes, noisy children, noisier adults…but then again, the natives “recycled” available building materials for centuries, plundered tombs, and otherwise chipped away at history.

Eternal Love

14 02 2012

Oh, wonderful – another Feb 14th.  Just so happens that I have an appropriate item to post for today.  This Valentine card is from the 1930s, and while many people might object to the artistic style, I think it’s kind of cute.  Artistic exaggeration is nothing new, and it’s certainly an equal-opportunity stylistic pursuit.  I don’t get my panties in a twist about Olive Oyl being an unkind characterization of a white chick.  And ancient Egyptians weren’t black, despite their various claims to the contrary throughout history.  But here we have a Nubian Cleopatra reclining in her barge (powered by an Evinrude motor), receiving an affectionate gift from her suitor while they glide down the De-Nial Rivah.  De-Nial, you say?  Ah, the romantic gesture must be being spurned.  Just like on the Bachelorette.  Happy Valentines y’all!

Good Luck

29 10 2011

Postcards were a great way to spread artwork and ideas to the far ends of the globe.  This 1907 example combines both – a delicate watercolor by a prominent illustrator, and a few sentences of folklore that may be completely fabricated, but who would ever know?  Also note the conglomeration of terms filed under “Orient”…

Greetings From Ashland, Alabama

5 02 2011

America has repeatedly suffered from Annie Oakley syndrome, and in boastful fits reminiscent of ‘anything you can do I can do better’, has held up various natural resources and landscapes in comparison to those of Egypt.  This early twentieth century postcard features a photograph of the river wending through Ashland, Alabama, accompanied by this little poem:

“Who wants to visit Egypt,
With its pyramids and sand,
When a place like this is easily reached
In one’s own native land?”

Road Trip

6 11 2010

The United States has had a long-term crush on ancient Egypt in more ways than one.  Did you know that the lower 15 or so counties of Illinois refer to themselves collectively as Egypt?  For brevity’s sake I will let you read why on Wikipedia.  In this post I am going to focus on one point of this history, the name itself.  Many sources stress not to call the region “Little Egypt”, since this name was used by an exotic dancer at the 1893 Columbian Exposition (and yet another dancer at the 1933 World’s Fair).  This postcard, c.1940, promotes the preferred name of Egypt.

However, this Wolf’s cola bottle from around the same time uses the taboo phrase of Little Egypt.  Surely they ought to have known better, being located in Harrisburg, which they even mark on the map of Illinois that is used as a logo.  Perhaps this disparity mirrored class distinctions – the tea and crumpets set addressed their letters with the grand and sombre ‘Egypt’, while the beer and pork rinds gang embraced the hoochy-koo implications of Little Egypt?  We may never know for sure.

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