Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

QUESTION:  Cassius Marcellus Coolidge received a patent for what staple found at tourist attractions across the world?
A)  Ticket stands
B)  Roller Coasters
C)  Comic Foregrounds
D)  Bumper Cars

Our third (and final) man named Cassius Marcellus had the last name Coolidge. He was not, as far as we know, related to the United States President of the same name. He was a consummate New Yorker, growing up and living near Antwerp, he dabbled in numerous different careers while there, from opening the town's first bank to opening (and closing) a drug store, and establishing Antwerp's first newspaper, Antwerp News. He also painted houses and signs, superintended a school district, worked on the family farm and collected maple sap. He patented a device to collect fares for the town's street cars, as well. Clay even wrote an opera, more specifically an operatic burlesque, in 1894 called King Gallinipper. It told the story of a mosquito epidemic that terrorized New York and New Jersey.

This framed beauty is not actually on the tour route - but in the office of the humble author of today's blog. Not to brag...

This framed beauty is not actually on the tour route - but in the office of the humble author of today's blog. Not to brag...

One thing Coolidge did not do during his highly productive life was receive any significant formal training on how to be an artist. His painting skills were largely innate, and he became well known in Antwerp, then in Rochester when he moved there, as a "lightning cartoonist," charging a quarter for caricatures of people on the street.  His true claim to fame, though, the reason Coolidge's name has achieved a level of immortality, is because of a series of paintings he did to sell cigars and other tobacco products. Coolidge dabbled in painting anthropomorphous dogs in the late 1890's. That's likely how the Brown & Bigelow Company learned about him. They commissioned sixteen paintings from Coolidge to print on calendars and distribute through tobacco companies. You know them - or if you don't, then you need to. These paintings have been reproduced, re-interpreted, and merchandised more than most other images. One author contends that the only subject with more imitations than the Dogs Playing Poker series is Elvis.

ANSWER:  C)  Comic Foregrounds.  These are the boards with characters painted on them and a hole in place of the head where people pose to have a picture taken. Silly, perhaps, but they were a living. In fact, Cash sustained his family for many years producing these.