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Cover Gallery: Gone Fishin’

Published: April 5, 2017

Woman in a dress fishing

Lady Fishing
Harrison Fisher
August 16, 1902

 

Harrison Fisher (1877 –1934) was an American illustrator. Both his father and his grandfather were artists. As you might be able to tell from this cover, Fisher was considered a successor to Charles Dana Gibson, famous for his Gibson Girls.

Two men are fishing from a canoe in a river. One has the fishing line, the other is rowing the canoe.

Two Men Fishing from Canoe
Oliver Kemp
May 30, 1908

 

Oliver Kemp (1887-1934) painted 11 covers for the Post.  He made yearly trips to the Rocky Mountains and was fond of painting scenes of western America. His Post covers all depicted rugged men hunting, fishing, and canoeing, often with a pipe between their teeth.

An American Indian in traditional grab is pulling a fishing line from a river.

Indian Fishing
N.C. Wyeth
July 18, 1908

 

Newell Convers Wyeth (1882 –1945), was probably best known for his illustrations of Scribner’s classics, particularly Treasure Island. He spent part of his twenties out West, learning about cowboy and Native American culture.  Wyeth painted his first cover for the Post when he was only 20; he was 25 when he completed “Indian Fishing.” N.C. Wyeth is the father of painter Andrew Wyeth.

A schoolboy fishing on a dock. He has his school books resting next to him on one side, and a can of worms on another.

Playing Hooky
J.C. Leyendecker
June 13, 1914

 

J.C. Leyendecker was the most prolific cover illustrator for the Post, painting 323 covers. (Rockwell stopped at 322 out of respect for Leyendecker.) It was Leyendecker who popularized the images of a fat, jolly Santa and the New Year’s baby.  While Leyendecker’s depictions of men were usually handsome and strapping, many of his children appeared emaciated and sickly, and often had bodies that were disproportionately smaller than their heads.

A balding man is fishing out of a soup can under a tree. He is wearing earmuffs, snow boots, patched trousers, and glasses. He is pulling a blue lobster from the can.

April Fool, 1945
Norman Rockwell
March 31, 1945

 

[From the editors of the March 31, 1945 issue] Probably no Post cover has ever been more popular than Norman Rockwell’s first April Fool cover. In this week’s cover, Mr. Rockwell is trying to fool you again, and he probably will succeed. Watch out for the blue lobster. As a matter of fact, we don’t think this one is quite fair, and we’re going to tell you that there is such a thing as a blue lobster. According to Charles Mohr, of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, the blue lobster is a rarity, but every once in a while one of them turns up in Maine waters, and it is completely blue. John Atherton, whose covers are well known to Post readers and who is a neighbor of Mr. Rockwell’s in Arlington, Vermont, once made a peculiar face while he was talking to Mr. Rockwell, and Norman remembered it and used Mr. Atherton with this particular expression as a model for this cover. There are at least fifty mistakes. See how many you can find and compare your findings with those listed on page 80.

A list of answers for an April Fools cover Norman Rockwell drew. It lists the locations and descriptions of the various visual jokes he put into the illustration.

People are fishing off a pier. In the background, a wave is cresting.

Pier Fishing
John Falter
August 13, 1949

 

[From the editors of the March 31, 1949 issue] On the long fishing pier at Santa Monica, California, tourists from all over the United States stand packed together like sardines while they try to catch fish. They are so grimly intent on their work or play or whatever it is that when a baited minnow smacks the water in all that silence, it makes quite a startling splash. Many of the fishermen go through their routine calmly and expertly; occasionally a greenhorn flies into a tizzy, yelps for the landing net and hauls in a dwarf flounder or something else depressing. The kids have a swell time fussing with starfish or reading a wet comic page which was wrapped around a wad of bait. Artist John Falter was non-committal about whether he caught anything—besides a Post cover.

A fly fisherman is in a river sticking his lure on a hook. Fish are jumping all around him.

The Fish Are Jumping
Mead Schaeffer
May 19, 1951

 

[From the editors of the May 19, 1951 issue] Those flies driving the man and the fish crazy are a variety known to fishermen as Green Drake. We don’t know what the fish call them. Just before this picture was painted, the man was calmly trying to feed the trout another variety of fly and they were calmly ignoring his hospitality. Suddenly, a countless family of Green Drake “nymphs,” which previously had risen to the surface of the water to hatch, discovered that they had wings, and decided to zoom into the wild blue yonder. Mead Schaeffer’s angler is trying to affix an artificial Green Drake to his line before the trout are so full of real Drakes that they sink to the bottom for a nap. Fishermen who experience such crises say that the general confusion is hard to imagine.

A young boy is sitting next to his father's bed while the man is sleeping. The boy is already dressed for fishing; he's holding a fishing pole. Outside, dawn is breaking over a river and moored fishing boats.

Dad, the Fish Are Biting
August 25, 1962
Amos Sewell

 

[From the editors of the August 25, 1962 issue] Forty more minutes to go, broods Amos Sewell’s thwarted young angler, and then Dad will waste still more time washing up and eating and dawdling over his coffee. From the look of this somnolent scene, it is clear that no fish will be disturbed until at least seven o’clock, and then, as any youngster knows, the fish will be settling for a siesta. Why, wonders the young sprat, can’t fathers coordinate their sleeping habits with those of fish?

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  • All great covers. The top one by the great Harrison Fisher is beautiful except for the placement of the cover blurbs—in the center like that?!

    The N.C. Wyeth ‘Indian Fishing’ is wonderful, looking very close to an actual photograph.

    You’re right in your mentioned observations about the Leyendecker ‘Playing Hookey’ boy that applies to some of his other children’s covers as well. I really never noticed before, but will now. It is quite odd actually, and have no idea why either.

    I studied the 2nd April Fools cover, but must admit I needed the answers box sooner than later. ‘Pier Fishing’ by Falter looks surprisingly modern for being almost 68 years ago.

    As far as ‘Dad, the Fish Are Biting’ goes, forget about 7am son. Dad’s into his sleep for the long haul here; possibly until 11 or 12 noon? Fishing’s about the last thing he wants to do. The boy’s going to have too much time on his hands until then, unfortunately. Life isn’t always fair. He promised, but sleep wins out.

  • lily froman

    Absolute treasures, want to read up all about these wonderful illustrators. America of the thirties and fifties could afford to give these men a good living, In today’s world they would have been chastized for low productivity. We produce more images and words in a day today than an entire year, yet it takes more effort to condense, distill and epitomize than to just catalog every living moment.

  • Goldbrick

    Enjoy seeing these ‘covers’ of bygone days…..

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