Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Newsletter #18 - January 2013
May I first of all take this opportunity to wish you a very happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year from all of us at Steppes Hill Farm Antiques. Thank you for your custom during 2012 and we hope to be able to be of service again in 2013.

I am basing my first Newsletter of the New Year on the comical novelty silver items made by Sampson Mordan & Co in the early 20th century and designed by the famous French illustrator, Benjamin Rabier - "The man who makes the animals laugh".

Click on the image above to zoom

Novelty Silver Cat Letter Opener, Sampson Mordan & Co, Chester 1912
Novelty Silver Gilt Dog Menu Holder, Sampson Mordan & Co, Chester 1913
Novelty Silver Duck Letter Opener, Sampson Mordan & Co, London 1921
Set 3 Novelty Silver 'Farmyard Animal' Menu Holders, Sampson Mordan, Chester 1911
Set 4 Novelty Silver 'Farmyard Animal' Menu Holders, Sampson Mordan, Chester 1912

Benjamin Rabier was one of the masters of early French comics and an animation pioneer, best known for his animal drawings. Born in La Roche Sur Yon as the son of a carpenter, he moved to Paris with his family at age 5. Although he won the first prize in a Parissien drawing competition twice (in 1879 and 1880), he started out working as a bookkeeper.

With the help of Caran d'Ache, his first drawings were published in magazines like La Chronique Amusante and Le Gil Blas Illustré. Until 1895, he earns most fame in England and the USA, where he draws for Scraps, Pictorial Comic Life and Puck magazine.

He got married in 1894 and settled in the Ségur region. It was at this time that he knew his first success in France. He became a regular contributor to the newspaper Le Rire, but he had his real breakthrough as one of the initial artists of Le Pêle Mêle in September 1895. He also drew for the magazines L'Assiette au Beurre and Le Chat Noir, as well the publications of Arthéme Fayard (La Jeunesse Illustrée and Les Belles Images).

He additionally contributed to the Images d'Epinal prints of Imagerie Pellerin. In 1898, he produced the book 'Tintin Lutin', which was an inspiration for Hergé, who named his famous character after it.

At the turn of the century, Rabier was an established artist, whose work in a great many publications. He began to produce more albums and illustrated the tales of La Fontaine. He also wrote theatre plays and did book illustrations. He had to quit his day job as a market inspector for medical reasons in 1910. From then on, he spent all his time on his artistic occupations.

He began working in animation in 1916. He also worked in the advertising field. For example, he developed the famous cow logo of the cheese brand La Vache Qui Rit. In 1923 he created 'Gédéon', a goose whose adventures he drew until the end of his life. Sixteen books appeared between 1923 and 1939. In 1936, he went to work for British publishers again, illustrating several small books.

To watch two videos of trailers of a French documentary about Benjamin Rabier please click on these links:-

Rabier's connection with the firm of Sampson Mordan & Co may well have been forged by Sampson Mordan II (son of Sampson Mordan), who married a French girl and lived in Paris for many years in the late 19th century.

Menu Holders Aide Memoires Novelty Pencils Hollow-Ware
Vinaigrettes Pin Cushions Marrow Scoops Flatware

I am pleased to be able to re-populate the site this month with over 80 new items of stock, and highlights include significant new additions to the Menu Holders Category, a new silver Category for Aide Memoires, some extremely rare novelty Pencils, a few fine pieces of Georgian silver Hollow-Ware, some interesting Vinaigrettes, Pin Cushions, Marrow Scoops and other nice quality silver Flatware.

I do hope that you will find this Newsletter informative and helpful and will allow us send it to you on a regular basis. I would welcome any feedback you may have, both positive and negative.

David W.A. Buck.
Steppes Hill Farm Antiques