Knocked Out by Jack Dempsy

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September 16, 2018 Sheryl Jaeger

By John Sayers

Yeah, I got knocked out by Jack Dempsey. Only it wasn’t his gloves, it was a postcard. A friend found it in some old family papers and remembered my interest in ephemera.

A left jab to the cheek came from the recognition of the artist’s name – James Montgomery Flagg. Sound familiar? It should, if you remember the artist who signed the penetrating and iconic First War recruiting poster “Uncle Sam Wants You”.

Next, a right cross – the Flagg image purports to picture Jack Dempsey’s defeat of defending Heavyweight Champion Jess Willard in their title match of 1919. Dempsey was the underdog in this fight, which brought in the first million-dollar gate. This was a real ‘gate’ from the just the keen and well-heeled fans in attendance at the actual fight - well before the era of radio and TV revenues!

The knockout blow was when I turned the card over and found that it was a souvenir of Jack Dempsey’s Restaurant in New York City. The original of this Flagg painting reportedly hung on the wall of the restaurant. On the back of the card, a reproduction of Jack Dempsey’s signature followed the message “May I Play Host and Say ‘Hello’ to You in My Restaurant Where Food and Friendliness are Knockouts”. The location on Broadway dated from 1947 and closed in 1974.

This ‘linen’ postcard published by ‘Colourpicture’ in Boston has appeal for collectors of boxing, restaurant, and illustration art ephemera, as well as collectors of linen finish postcards. Yes, folks, it’s a knockout!


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