Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Touch of Vernon Grant

I recently rediscovered
the illustrator,Vernon Grant
and I'll tell you why in a moment.
But first I'd like to share a little 
about Vernon Grant and his 
wonderful illustrations. 
 Famous for his little gnome, 
nursery rhyme, and fairy tale characters
 Vernon Grant is perhaps best 
remembered as the creator of Kellogg's 
Rice Krispies famous gnome trio,
Snap!, Crackle!, and Pop! in 1933
and he often referred to them as 
"my children".
Grant worked for Kellogg's for
 nine years where they used his talents
to illustrate nursery rhymes
on cereal boxes,
 booklets and ads
and mail-in promos.
Grant also had a childhood love of 
farming and by 1953 had established 
670 acre farm with his wife and children
on land he christened "Pinetuck"
near Rock Hill, South Carolina,
There he enjoyed working the soil,
growing crops, and raising livestock.
After some years he commissioned
a golf course on his land.
He was known by the town
as the gentleman farmer. 
In his seventy year career, Grant 
 illustrated as many as 187 covers of 
popular magazines including "Judge", 
"Ladies Home Journal", and "Colliers".
 His art can also be found on
 government war time posters,
image source ,,,
and hundreds of advertising 
illustrations for major clients like
Gillette, Hershey, Eveready,
General Electric, Oscar Mayer,
Wrigley's and Mennen.
Vernon Grant also wrote 
and illustrated a handful of 
original children's books.
image sources ,,, 
He also enjoyed painting
many variations of Santa Claus.
In 1985, Grant felt he could no 
longer work to his own expectations 
and was forced to retire.
He died at age 88 in 1990 satisfied 
knowing he had accomplished his 
childhood goal of drawing for kids.
In his book
 "Vernon Grant's Mother Goose"
you can find a collection of
his whimsical illustrations 
he created for many 
popular nursery rhymes...
Peter Peter Pumpkin-eater,
Jack Sprat,
Humpty Dumpty, 
Little Jack Horner,
image source
Old Woman Who Lived In a Shoe
Simple Simon,
and Old King Cole 
just to name a few.

This next half of my story 
is how I became motivated to
rediscover the art of Vernon Grant.
I was casually browsing through eBay, as 
I'm known to do fairly frequently,
when I spied this picture...
A Dept 56 Storybook Village Collection
Peter Peter cookie jar, circa 2002.
My eyes widened when,
on the box I noticed 
Vernon Grant's Signature!
Now, I had seen this cookie jar 
on line years ago and thought 
it was an incredibly creative design,
I had no idea it was inspired 
by a famous illustrator.
The description back then, didn't 
even mention him.
I just knew it was beyond my budget
at the time and I moved on.
After seeing Vernon Grant's name,
I did a little research and was able
to match Grant's illustrations
to the cookie jar!
Department 56 did a exceptionally faithful 
three dimensional interpretation 
of his original illustration.
And even improved on the design 
with the addition of Jack Sprat's 
wife popping out of the window. 
Needless to say, I wasted 
not a minute...asking Sam,
if I could buy this little beauty 
for $39.99!! 
She agreed,
 and here it sits in my collection. 
Peter Peter Pumpkin-eater 
is just darling resting
on his little blue steps
complete with a little 
patch on his shoe.
Dept 56 did a splendid job
adding a never before seen
back to the pumpkin shell.
Truly an delightful piece,
I'm so happy to now finally own it!

With all the research I did 
to find out about the cookie jar, 
I soon stumbled on the fact that
Dept 56 produced more
Vernon Grant inspired 
Storybook collectibles, then, 
in turn, I discovered them on eBay!!!
Let me introduce you to 
my second eBay purchase, 
A victory of a small bidding war,
Mr. Little Jack Horner the teapot!
Complete with a plum on his thumb!
I just love his tall red hat!
Again very true to Grant's 
original illustration with lots of detail.
From his, characteristically Grant,
extra long feet,
to the three little red buttons 
on his shoes.
He does appear to be 
sitting on the Christmas pie.
Maybe even three.
Such a whimsical teapot!

But I didn't stop there.
Humpty Dumpty will be arriving 
next week from eBay.
Another amusing teapot.

I am now on a quest to add these next 
three teapots to the Ozark collection
as well.
There's The Mother Goose Teapot,
the merry old sole, Old King Cole Teapot,
and a teapot version of Peter Peter 
Pumpkin-eater, which appears to be 
very rare, as I have only been able to 
find this one picture as proof that it 
ever existed.
Department 56 created other 
Vernon Grant inspired Storybook 
collectibles as well,
The Dept 56 Jack Be Nimble nightlight
with a flicker flame bulb.
The Dept 56 Rain, Rain, Go Away Lidded Box
The Dept 56 Twinkle, Twinkle
 Little Star Lidded Box
The Dept 56 Three Men in a Tub Water Globe
and the Dept 56  Old Lady In A Shoe 
lighted house.
Plus no series would be complete without
Humpty Dumpty, Mother Goose, and 
The Old Lady In A Shoe.

As far as I can gather, the Dept 56 
Storybook Village Collection
 is very extensive, but only 
these few pieces where based off of 
Vernon Grant's illustrations, 
which makes them quite special.
Here is one last Item that
pops up on eBay on occasion.
A large Humpty Dumpty Store
display, probably used to catch the eye
of Vernon Grant collectors when
these pieces were released in 2002. 
I can't really imagine having 
all of these pieces in the Ozark 
collection, I would like a few
no cookie jar collection would 
be complete without
a touch of Vernon Grant.

To find out more about Vernon Grant,
check out Linda D. William's book
"Beyond Snap!, Crackle!, and Pop!
The Story of American Illustrator
Vernon Grant"
Now available in the Gift Shop 
(803) 981-9181
and click on this link here

Thanks for stopping by and
happy hunting!

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