A Christmas Card from Robert Browning

 

The Armstrong Browning Library has in its collections a Christmas card send by Robert Browning to Emily Marion Harris, a poet and writer of romance novels, who corresponded with Robert Browning during the last decade of his life. The inscription reads: “To Miss E. M. Harris, With more love and respect than need accompany so poor a gift. Robert Browning.” The Christmas card is not what you would expect a traditional card to look like. The scene is a landscape painting on an easel, with a palette bearing the solitary word “Remembrance.” The greeting on the card reads: “With best wishes for a Happy Christmas.” The logo on the back of the card indicates that it was published by J. F. Schipper & Co., Art Publishers, London and that the item, No. 860, has a copyright. There is no date printed on the card ; and, unfortunately, Browning did not include a date on his greeting, but it is likely that it was sent sometime between 1884 and 1888.

The J. F. Schipper Publishing Company was dissolved or struck off the register of Joint Stock Companies in 1906. According to the London Gazette, May 9, 1890, the company folded on the 6th day of May, 1890. Periodical articles mentioning the company date from 1882. The company was formerly Herman Rothe Publishers which operated from 1874 until early 1881. Mr. Rothe died in 1881 at the age of 36. The card therefore dates sometime between 1881 and 1889. Another source describes the set of Christmas cards for 1885, saying “one of the most notable series consists of Reproductions of eight of Turner’s Masterpieces.”

Does anyone recognize the painting on the easel as a J. M. W. Turner reproduction? Or where we might get a copy of the sample book of Christmas cards published by J. F. Schipper & Company? Do you have any other information that might help us to date the Christmas card?

Melinda Creech

Merry Christmas from everyone at the

Armstrong Browning Library

We wish you great joy during this beautiful season

and every happiness

throughout the New Year.

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