SOP 55: American girls (2011)

Av: Magne Botnedal, Artikkel: 2011, SOP nr: 55

SOP55-american girl 01For many years I have been collecting glamour postcards. Most of what I collect is American postcards depicting American girls. My reasons for loving these cards are due to the cards beauty and affordability and I must admit that these Artists use very beautiful women in their Artwork.

The most collectable of the artists in this section for me are Harrison Fisher, Philip Boileau and the lesser known Fidler sisters.

J.L.Mashburn has made an index of glamour postcards, including the Fidler sisters’ production, but has not included any further information about them.  Based on his information, these are the artists behind the “American Poster” and “American Girl” series, published by Edward Gross, NY:

Pearle Eugenia Fidler
Pearle Fidler LeMunyan
Alice Luella Fidler
Alice Fidler Person
Elsie Catherine Fidler

I’ve googled to find more information about these painting sisters, but not much is available out there. Therefore I was very happy to hear from one of my glamour cards contacts, Alan Gottlieb – of www.oldpostcards.com, that he accidentally was in contact with a relative in their family. 

Right: American Girl No. 1. This is the first card in the second series, painted by Pearle Fidler LeMunyan in 1911 (click on image to enlarge).

Alan told me this in one of his mails earlier this year: “Did I tell you in the past that I was at my parent’s house in New York visiting and received a phone call from the Nephew of the Fidler sisters. He was the son of the Fidler sisters’ brother and He lives only one mile from my parent’s home in New York, USA. I invited him over to look at the postcards of the sisters.  (Alan’s parents are also postcard dealers who sell at postcard shows throughout the USA). He got me in touch with Pearls daughters who wrote me information about her mother and included a photo of her but did not have photos of the other 2 sisters.

SOP55-american girl 11

This man, now in his 70’s, came over to look at Alan’s parent’s postcard collection of his Aunts work on postcards. He then contacted his cousin, Barbara Kurz, the daughter of Pearle. Barbara mailed Alan sometime later – now some 4 years ago, writing this: “Dear Alan, I am very happy to receive copies of the Fiddler sisters’ artwork. I herewith send you photos of my mother Pearle.

Geneva, New York was the place where the Fiddler family grew up. Jessie was the eldest in the family. She was married to Melvin Gaylord of Dorchester Rose Landware. At one time he was the mayor of Geneva. Then Pearle Eugenia was the second sister. She attended Elmira College for two years then married Bendette Le Munyan, who grew up in Addison, NY. He was a lawyer on Wall Street with Burke and Burke. Two children Jean and Barbara were born. He died when they were very young.

Above: American Girl No. 11. Some of the early cards in the second series, was also titled Fidler college series on the backside. This is American girl 11, College series 4, painted by Alice Luella Fidler in 1911.

Pearle married Robert Wood from Scotland, a widower. The family went to the Isle of Man where he had built a house in Garwick. He died after about ten years and two years later Pearle died. Jean and Barbara moved to the United States.

SOP55-american girl 47
SOP55-american girl 102
American Girl No. 47. This is one of the rare appearances of Elsie Catherine Fidler, the youngest sister American Girl No. 102. Here a very beautiful card, signed by Alice Fidler Person. Many of the girls wear the latest fashion hats, this one cream coloured with a blue ribbon

Alice was the next Fidler sister, married to Clarence Person (of Colorado). One daughter Lucille. They lived in Delaware and raised chickens. Next was brother Charles Fidler, wife Edith and son Robert (artistic), White Plains, NY. The youngest sister Elsie was married to Charles Cavalli, on daughter Nalda (who has 4 children), living in Massachusetts. Elsie died before I moved back to the US. I never met her.

Jean went to art school in Boston, then returned to England marrying David Collet, children Ben, Paul, Miranda, Serena and Chris. I went two years to Mt. Holyoke College, then to the Art Students Lague in NY, where I studied with Kunyashi, Morris Kantor, John Sloan and Jean Charlet. Married to John Ormai, then John Kurz. Children Felix, Theodore, Stella and Christina.

I am very sorry I have no photo of the three art producing sisters together. Sincerely Barbara Kurz.”

SOP55-american poster 55

Well. it’s a small world. The guy Alan was introduced to, Robert Fidler, was living just one mile away from the place he grew up in New York. His parents still live there, when they’re not in their retirement condo in Florida. Alan’s father has a very big postcard collection, and his mother is a part of the family’s postcard business too.

So now we know a bit more about these glamour postcard artists. But we don’t know much about their total artwork, but what Mashburn has listed in his “The Artist-Signed Postcard Price Guide”. Unluckily after publishing this “must” of a book, Mashburn had a disk crash, so all his additional gathered information got lost.

But the postcards remains, and in my opinion they’re great. The only other reliable source I found was www.jystamps2000.com, who writes this about them:

“The Fidler family moved to Romulus, New York, about 1877 and then to Geneva, New York, in 1891. They resided at 214 Lewis Street in 1905 when their father, Charles E. Fidler, (born ~1853) died and was buried in Glenwood cemetery. Their mother, Lillie A.Fidler, nee Bardell (born~1859), died in 1913 and was buried in the same graveyard.

There were four daughters in the family, Jessie M. Fidler (1877- ); Pearl Eugenia (Lemunyan), (1880-); Alice Luella (Person), (1883-); Elsie Catherine, (1892-),  and one son named Charles F., (1885-). Three of the daughters married at least once with Jessie’s married name being Jessie M. Gaylord. In 1905 all still resided in Geneva, New York. Apparently Elsie stayed in Geneva until around 1920. During her career Pearle spelled her name with an «e» on the end, although Mr. Johnston’s research shows the spelling was originally «Pearl.»
Above: Poster No. 55. The poster cards were the forerunner of the American girl series, painted by Alice Luella Fidler. These cards are published in different colours, here the girl wears a blue sweater and hat with blue stripes, but appears with different colours as well.

For me it is always interesting to know more about the stories behind the cards, even if the cards are most important. These sisters painted very much the same way, and Pearle and Alice were the most productive with almost the same amount of postcards. Elsie has only produced a few of them.

“American Poster” has numbers 40-45, and 50-55, and “American girl, 1-138. But for me it is really interesting that three sisters with very much the same “touch” contributed to these two very collectable series. Some of the editions of these cards come with signature, and occasionally without. But the most extraordinary thing is that the “American Poster” cards come with different colours, where the girls’ clothing changes, one time in blue, the next in red etc.

SOP54-PearleFidler 1
SOP54-PearleFidler 2
Here is Pearle Eugenia Fidler on her wedding day, most likely her first, marrying Bendette LeMunyan Portrait of this beautiful American Girl, Pearl Eugenia Fidler. Might the sisters have used each others as models?

 

To me “American Girls” are great and I want to complete my Gross collection, with some help from Alan and others. I thank Alan for his contribution and his sharing of this most interesting background information. To view more of the 3 sister’s work, visit Oldpostcards.com click on Artist signed where you will find among 400 other Artists, the works of Pearle Fidler, Alice Luella Fidler and Elsie Catherine Fidler.

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