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Fairbank Canning

Aesop's Fables Revised and Improved by the Fairbank Canning Co, Chicago. Thirteen cards, perhaps the complete set, each transforming an Aesop's fable into an advertisement for Fairbank canned meat. Though the size varies slightly, they are generally 3¼" x 5". Three were a gift of Eleanor R. Webster of Retired Books, Sherborn, MA, August, '91. Others came for various prices from $2.50 to $23.63 from Jane Choras through Payson Hall Bookshop, Belmont, MA, August, '91; Dave Anderson, Monson, MA, through Ebay, March, '99; Jane Davidson, West Yarmouth, MA, through Ebay, April, '00; Dave Cheadle, Englewood, CO, Sept., '99; $35; James Becker, Walden, NY, through Ebay, Feb., '01; Robert Moore, Haverhill, MA, through Ebay, June, '01, Primarily Paper, through eBay, May, '03, Lynne Van Brocklin, Norcross, GA, through eBay, Sept., '03, and Barton Kamp, Worcester, MA, through eBay, Sept., '08. I have extras of most of the cards.

This is one of the most delightful sets I have had the pleasure of pursuing. There is a quirky transformation of each of the traditional fables represented here—all for canned meat! The cards generally show a combination of what looks like a blue and sepia wash. Each card takes the opportunity to draw the obvious moral. The versos of the cards are blank or include one of the following: advertisements for wholesale grocers like Head and Winston in Utica or Charles Hewitt in Des Moine; or price lists for Fairbank meats dried or in cans or barrels. These price lists are dated "Sept. 1st, 1882." When I had seven cards, I thought that there might be eight in the series. Thomas Beckman has been very helpful to me in dealing with this set of cards. When I got my ninth card, Dave Cheadle mentioned to me that there are thirteen in the set. Can I be sure that I have the whole set, especially since thirteen sounds like a strange number for a set? Come to think of it, it's a perfect number for this set!

Click on any card to see it full-size along with comments on its transformation of the original fable.

"TheAnt and the Grasshopper" (x2)

"TheBoy and the Bone" (x3)

"TheBoy and the Grapes" (x4)

"The Boy and the Uncle"

"The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse" (x3)

"The Dog and the Shadow" (x4)

"The Fisherman Piping" (x3)

"The Frog and the Ox" (x2)

"The Huntsman and the Lion"

"The Man and the Ox" (x3)

"The Man and the Satyr" (x2)

"The Mouse and the Frog" (x2)

"The Old Man and the Meat Can" (x3)

"The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf"