This magnificent Halloween tally card was published by “The Buzza Co. Craftacres, Mpls., U.S.A.”
Apparently, the company was founded by George Buzza in 1907. It took about a decade for the business to hit its stride (after George swapped from printing posters and advertising to printing greeting cards); by 1928 sales had reached $2.5 million; the following year the founder sold out; and just over one decade later the business had been run completely into the ground by the new owners.
Anyway, apparently also, the company had an in-house magazine called the Bee-Hive. I guess it is possible that this particular tally card features somewhere in either the archives at the Hennepin County Library or in the pages of The Bee-Hive, and so it might be possible to date it more accurately than ca. 1925.
If I could magically multiply myself in the same way that Mickey multiplies his bucket-bearing helpers in Fantasia—well, not exactly the same way—I would send one of me to Hennepin County to attempt this. Until I can do that I will have to content myself with the circa date above.
As for the card itself. As you can see, it is quite magical in its own way. A dishy young witch, with a blond bob, holds a massive book of “Fate” under her arm. She also has a wonderful black cat, with red eyes, on a pink leash. She is wearing a short sleeveless orange dress, with a puffed-up skirt covered in big gold stars, and a matching pointed witch’s hat. Her little orange twinkle-toe shoes are decorated with large square buckles, witchy-style.
The book of “Fate” has a wonderful, colourful, abstract Deco design on it, with the title on the front and an owl on the back. When the book is—carefully—removed from under our witch’s arm and opened we find space to record the couple and table numbers, four rounds of scores and a grand total.
Fortunately, nobody used this tally card to record their bridge tally, and so the book of Fate is blank and the card in pristine condition. I have rarely seen tally cards with any actual tallys on them and I have often wondered whether this is because those that were used were thrown away, because they were so badly damaged by being used, or they had simply served their purpose and were disposed of.
The alternative is that, because these tally cards are so beautiful and delicate, nobody could bring themselves to write on them in the first place and that they were preserved for the same reason. That is, the utilitarian and decorative functions are in conflict: the more attractive the cards are, the more likely they were to sell (and be preserved), but the less likely they were to be used.
This, of course, leads to endless speculation regarding “utile vs dulci” (the useful versus the pleasant) but this is hardly the place for it! Until next week …