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The Best Rockwell Covers You’ve Never Seen

Published: September 12, 2009

Think you know all the Norman Rockwell covers for The Saturday Evening Post? Since there were well over 300, probably not. Many of them you’ve seen time and time again, but we’ve dug up some you may have never seen—or if you have, you may have forgotten.

Rockwell’s first cover, which you may not recall seeing unless you’re over 100 years old (and if you are, bless you for finding this on the computer), was the May 20, 1916, The Babysitter. A rather unhappy lad is pushing a baby carriage, while his buddies are off to play baseball. If they would just go play baseball, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad, but their “see ya, sucker” attitude is a bit much.

Knowledge is Power, October 27, 1917

Knowledge is Power, October 27, 1917

Knowledge Is Power! Another cover we don’t see that much shows us a teacher with a visitor to the classroom. From the look in the schoolmarm’s eyes, we can deduce that it is a very interesting visitor. Little Johnny has to stay late and write “Knowledge Is Power” on the blackboard a zillion times. The student seems to have a different view of that wise saying than the teacher intended.

We had nearly forgotten this one: From 1919 we see a man locking up the office, leaving a note on the door that says, “Gone on Important Business,” the imperative business being that it’s too nice a day to work. The motivational sign over his desk declaring “Do It Now” no doubt refers to playing golf.

Armor, November 3, 1962

Armor, November 3, 1962

Oh sure, you think, come up with covers from 80 or 90 years ago, but what about the ’50s and ’60s—I’ll remember those, smarty. OK, here’s one from 1962: Rockwell visited the John Woodman Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts (yep, that’s a mouthful), and you’ll need to click on it to see how extremely detailed this painting is. As sometimes happened, the Rockwell imagination went a little off-kilter. The guard taking a lunch break is strictly a Rockwell creation (that wasn’t in the museum), and you have to look very closely to see what else—this is the off-kilter part—the horse underneath that sumptuous armor is watching! OK, we’re not sure if this intrigues us or creeps us out.

Shuffletons Barbershop, April 29, 1950

Shuffleton's Barbershop, April 29, 1950

You probably remember Rockwell’s famous barbershop quartet cover, but few remember Shuffleton’s Barbershop from 1950. The charming old place, virtually unchanged from 1907, or so the editors informed us, is also highly detailed from the stove and coal bucket to the minutiae of design on the barber’s chair. But it’s the after-hours peek into the back room that draws us, as the real barber, Rob Shuffleton, trades his scissors and razor for a cello to make music with his buddies. Rockwell told the editors that Rob “is a tonsorial virtuoso who always trims his locks exactly the right length.”

<em>Christmas Homecoming</em>, December 25, 1948

Christmas Homecoming, December 25, 1948

But Rockwell was all about faces, and we would like for you to click on the Christmas 1948 cover: The faces are not only wonderful, they were important faces to Rockwell. They were friends, family, and neighbors. Rockwell liked the cute little pigtailed girl so much, he painted her twice—she was only “twins” on this cover. The lady enthusiastically hugging the young blond man is none other than Mrs. Rockwell, and the young man being welcomed so warmly is their son Jerry. Son Peter Rockwell is to the far left, and the young man in the plaid shirt is son Tommy. There are two famous artists in this cover, and you’ll probably recognize the one with the pipe as Rockwell himself. The delightful grandmother is none other than Rockwell friend, Grandma Moses. May all your homecomings be every bit as joyous.


Gallery

" href='http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2009/09/12/art-entertainment/lost-rockwell.html/attachment/cover_9160520'>The Babysitter, May 20, 1916