The Art & Humor of
A. Stanley Johnson of Waupun, Wisconsin

presented by The History Center on Main Street,
Mansfield, PA
How We Do Things, Second Ed.
Site Under Construction starting June 2018 -
Not Done yet - Feb 2019
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Marketing & Distribution

As anyone who has ever made anything of any kind knows, you have to spend as much or more time selling it as you did making it. In the case of the exaggeration post cards, once the initial Crop of 1909 proved successful in the local villages, getting them to the rest of the country was the next step. Obviously, the phrase "Crop of 1909" had to be changed, because it was limiting. Other sellers used "The Kind We Raise" or "The Kind We Catch" or similar phrases. Johnson came up with the phrase "How We Do Things," which was unusual and not like any of the others. It was flexible and could be applied to fish, vegetables, anything. It became his trademark identifier.

From 1911 to 1913 Johnson produced all manner of exaggerated rural scenes with fruits and vegetables as well  as fishing and a few hunting scenes. This was his period of greatest productivity and variety with 84 copyrighted photographs.  Breaking it down, there were four hunting scenes, 19 fishing scenes and the remaining 61 scenes were about farm and garden produce.

Johnson marketed his cards all over the U.S. and Canada. While he may have done some traveling, it is likely he advertised his wares primarily by mail as in the three cards shown here from 1913 to 1915. We can attempt to date this postally unused advertising card because it was at the end of 1911 that Johnson had completed 52 of his exaggeration cards. However, this is on the back of a "Father Works" card which he copyright registered in 1913. He discontinued some of his earlier less popular designs and was not including them in the 52 of this offer. This would include the street scenes with buildings that would not have translated nationally as the rural scenes did.


The end of 1913 also was a breaking point in Johnson's production. In 1914, the year of his father's death, he copyrighted no new titles and did not start producing new designs again until 1915.   


This postally used advertising card dated 1915 is also on the back of a "Father Works" card. This apparently applies to regular picture postcards as well as the Novelty Freak cards.

This unused advertising card is just for the new auto cards produced in 1915. It is printed on the back of a "Homeward Bound." card
See also the advertising card for the Pennant Message cards.

Where Did  They Go?

             Fellow collector, Paula King, has done some interesting analysis on where the cards were distributed.

Using her own collection, the first edition of this book, online auction sites, museum sites and other internet locations where the cards appear, she has tabulated the states/provinces where she has found them. She has pursued this over a period of about two years.

In Canada she has seen Johnson’s cards with overprints for Alberta (6), British Columbia (2), Manitoba (3), New Brunswick (1), Nova Scotia (3), Ontario (14), Quebec (5), and Saskatchewan (1).

She has not found cards overprinted for Newfoundland & Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon. There are 22 individual towns represented among the cards from the 8 Canadian Provinces where Johnson cards have been located.

   “I have, however, seen one card from Haines, Alaska, which was also a Territory when Johnson was working.  Other states where I have seen only a single card include:  Alabama, Arizona,  Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, Wyoming.  I have only seen two examples from Delaware and North Carolina.”

“Johnson’s cards were, naturally, most popular in his home state of Wisconsin (117 cards), followed by Minnesota (91), Michigan (88), Pennsylvania (75), Iowa (71), New York (63), Ohio (61), Kansas (41), Massachusetts (31), Illinois (30), Indiana (28), Missouri (23), North Dakota (19), Nebraska (15), Maine (12), Texas (12), California (11), South Dakota (11).  All the remaining states were in the single digits.”

“There are 621 individual towns represented among the cards from the 45 U.S. States that sold Johnson cards.”

Paula’s study has identified the following cards as the most frequently printed. “As you have noted in your book, Johnson produced cards in a variety of subject areas:  growing vegetables & fruits; fishing & hunting;  his transportation-related series, "Scene on the Road" ; as well as the comic Prison cards.  The "comic" Prison cards remain the scarcest, and most difficult cards to find, as you know.  But individual cards from the other three categories seemed to be popular with postcard senders 100 years ago.  “For example:

Vegetables and Fruits: 

Apples (piled in the truck):  19 examples

A Bushel of Strawberries: 16

Winter Squash: 15

Our Corn: 15

Our Kind: 14

Sugar Beets: 14

Turnips: 14

Pears: 13

Apples (in the barrel): 12

Loading Cabbage: 12

Onion Harvest: 12

Potatoes: 12

Our Cucumbers: 11

Plenty Potatoes: 11

Transportation & Other cards:

We Never Stop: 18

Homeward Bound: 16

Held Up: 15

The Milky Way: 13

Overloaded: 11 

Fishing & Hunting:

My First Strike: 14

The Buck Fever: 13 

For all other cards in the list, I have l seen 10 or fewer examples.