In the spirit of the approaching holiday, a brightly illustrated Christmas supplement to the Marin County Tocsin newspaper, dated December 14, 1907, featuring the artwork of American illustrator Frank Ver Beck. The humorous scene depicts a whip-cracking Santa Claus, driving a sleigh full of toys pulled by four snarling bears. Reindeer, having been apparently replaced, look on with bewildered, human-like expressions. A border of brown bears at play with children’s toys of the day encircles the scene and is repeated on the back of the supplement.
Christmas Supplement to the Marin County Tocsin, 1907. Donated by Roy Farrington Jones. ID# 1999.2994
William Francis “Frank” Ver Beck (1858-1933) studied art and woodcarving in Ohio, his birthplace, before moving to New York City to further his art education about 1881. There, he became a free-lance illustrator for magazines such as Scribner’s, The Ladies Home Journal, and Collier’s, and began writing and illustrating children’s books and collaborating with other artists and writers, including Rudyard Kipling and L. Frank Baum. According to several online sources, he was best recognized for his comedic animal illustrations, as collected in his eponymously published Ver Beck’s Book of Bears.
This supplement measures a sizeable 18 by 24 inches. Its inner pages are missing, but we have an array of local advertisements inside its front and back covers to enjoy. Among them for: “Seasonable Dainties” from C. Grosjean & Co., Perfect Steam Beer “Recommended by the Medical Fraternity” from San Rafael Brewery, and “Choice Candies and Bon Bons” from J.C. Hoover’s. The back cover features a full-page announcement for the opening of Coutts-Meyers Furniture Company at 960 Fourth Street in San Rafael, selling parlor sets, Christmas writing desks, and “No. 1” rocking chairs that promise “solid comfort” to “keep hubby at home.”