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National 4-H Calendar Program

The National 4-H Calendar Program Calendar Art Catalog provides known information on 4-H calendars and calendar art by calendar company.

According to a report on the National 4-H Calendar Program prepared for the ECOP Subcommittee on 4-H Club Work in April, 1962, the first known record of an authorization for a 4-H Club calendar is a letter dated November 2, 1936 from C. W. Warburton, Director of Extension Work in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, authorizing the Thomas D. Murphy Company, Red Oak, Iowa, to use the 4-H name and emblem on calendars for sale to local sponsors. The first commercial 4-H calendar seems to have been sold by the Murphy Company in 1938 for hanging in 1939.

While the Thomas D. Murphy Company had approval from the federal Extension Office to produce calendars in the late 1930s, it is believed that this effort was primarily a local effort within the state of Iowa and probably ended when the war started.

4-H calendars following the war regained new interest and the arrangements for the printing of an annual 4-H calendar received approval of the Committee on Organization and Policy of the Land-Grant Colleges and State directors of Extension, to be conducted with the cooperation of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work of Chicago. The announcement statement explained that the production of a calendar would:

  • Gain prestige for the 4-H movement.
  • Bring 4-H activities to the attention of the general public.
  • Increase membership through a widened knowledge of what 4-H Clubs do.
  • Establish a royalty fund to assist in further development of the 4-H program. Ten percent of gross sales would go toward purchase and development of the National 4-H Club Center located just outside Washington, D.C.

This interest in 4-H calendars following the war was initiated by Brown & Biglelow of St. Paul, Minnesota which began production of 4-H calendars in 1948 for distribution in 1949, operating through a contract with the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work. It became the National Committee's responsibility to assist Brown & Bigelow in the production of a 4-H calendar line which would appropriately reflect and serve the Extension youth program.

These Brown & Bigelow 4-H calendars had a circulation of nearly a half million the first year and combined calendar sales exceeding a million and a half by the second year. The first year's royalties were over $25,000. (For use of the name and emblem, all authorized calendar companies agreed to pay a 10 percent royalty on the sales of the 4-H calendars for the development of the National 4-H Center. During the first decade, between 1949 and 1959, $377,000. was made available for the rebuilding and maintenance of the 4-H Center in Washington, D.C.

In addition to Brown & Bigelow and the Murphy Company, other calendar companies joined the National 4-H Calendar Program producing different annual calendars in their respective print shops. Shaw-Barton, Inc., Coshocton, Ohio, was authorized to manufacture 4-H calendars on April 15, 1948; Gerlach-Barklow Co., Joliet, Illinois, authorized on July 23, 1946; Gettier-Montanye, Inc., Glyndon, Maryland, authorized on February 3, 1947; and Custom-Cal Co., Atlanta, Georgia, authorized on December 17, 1954.

Some of these companies received servicing of the 4-H calendar program from the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (National 4-H Service Committee) while others received similar servicing from the National 4-H Club Foundation.

In addition to this listing, there were many local firms that printed some type of 4-H calendar at the local level, and some non-commercial calendars were produced from time to time.

The calendar companies during these years, particularly Shaw-Barton and Brown & Bigelow, were marketing several different types of calendars, all with the same annual image agreed upon with the Extension Service. Both companies were offering large wall calendars with the art image and a monthly pad at the bottom in three different sizes - approximately 11" x 23", 16" x 33" and 22" x 45". They described these calendars as being for school and business hang-ups. They also offered a smaller version of the wall calendar where the image was not printed on the calendar stock but "tipped" or glued on to the stock, and with a smaller monthly pad at the bottom... this version was for home hang-ups. Also a 4-H Record Calendar and a Memory Calendar or month-by-month pocket record were both offered in various versions depending upon the year. So although when we think about the history of the National 4-H Calendar Program, our image of the large wall calendar may be what we envision, the 4-H calendar program was much broader, catering to a variety of interests and needs of the 4-H member, 4-H leader, 4-H family, county agent and local businesses.

In the early years of 4-H calendar history, there were no regulations to guide manufacturers in producing calendars that were appropriate for the 4-H program. Furthermore, little help was provided by the Extension Service to mold calendar advertising into an effective public relations tool for 4-H.

This was remedied in April, 1953, when regulations were adopted governing appropriate use of the 4-H name and emblem on calendars. They were adopted February 19, 1955. A portion of these regulations are detailed here:

Regulations Governing the Use and Authorization

of the Name and Emblem of 4-H Club Work

Concerning the 4-H Calendar Program

SEC. 8.9. Use on Calendars

(a) The revocation of present authorizations provided in section 8.4 hereof does not apply to authorizations for calendars now in production for hang-up before or in the year 1957.

(b) No State or county Extension Service or local 4-H Club is authorized to produce a 4-H Club calendar or authorize others to produce or sell a 4-H Club calendar.

(c ) Calendars will be approved only on the basis of very high standards of quality and acceptable distribution plans:

(1) All organizations wishing to manufacture and merchandise calendars bearing the 4-H Club name and emblem shall submit to the Administrator the following specific materials and any supplementary information or materials which will help to provide complete information regarding the calendar, its promotion and sales plan:

(i) Application for authorization to use the 4-H Club name and emblem.

(ii) Samples (actual or dummy) of the various types of calendars on which the manufacturer wishes to use the 4-H Club name and emblem, including complete specifications as to size, art work, copy, color, paper stock, etc.

(iii) A statement on promotion, sales and distribution plans for the calendar bearing the 4-H Club name and emblem, including prices in various quantities, number of salesmen employed, or to be employed, extent of sales, territory to be covered, means of distribution to users, etc.

(iv) Copies of any and all sales of promotion literature which makes reference to 4-H Club work or calendars bearing the 4-H Club name and emblem.

(d) Notification of the grant of an authorization for the use of the 4-H Club name and emblem for a specific year will be received by the calendar manufacturer from the Administrator.

(e) During each year that the authorization is in effect, art work, copy and related plans for each complete calendar and any pertinent changes from the original approved sales and distribution plan, must be submitted for approval to the Administrator, Federal Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington 25, D.C.

(f) The main illustration shall be used only on the calendar series for which authorization is granted and shall not be used on other calendars. The main illustration and other illustrations used shall be in keeping with the ideals, spirit and objectives of the 4-H Club Program. Natural color oil paintings or photo reproductions of real life situations depicting the educational work of 4-H Clubs shall be used.

(g) All calendar copy must contain a line near the advertiser's name indicating that the distribution of the calendar is designed to further the educational program of 4-H Club work.

(h) Copy, art work, subject matter, and information appearing in or on the calendar shall not in any way imply endorsement of the firm or individual sponsoring the calendar, nor of its products, services, or calendar copy by the United States Department of Agriculture, land-grant colleges, or Extension Service, including the 4-H Clubs, or its representatives.

(i) Space devoted to advertising shall not exceed 10 percent of the total calendar space. The name of only one sponsor or advertiser shall appear on a calendar.

(j) It is preferred that calendars be sold or distributed by purveyors of common necessities such as credit (banks), farm machinery, feeds, fertilizers, groceries, lumber, etc., or through farm organizations, insurance companies, etc.

(k) Calendars bearing the 4-H Club name and emblem shall not be sold to or distributed through any business whose sponsorship or use thereof might reflect unfavorably on the Extension Service or on 4-H Club work. Sales are strictly prohibited to any firm or individual engaging primarily in the manufacture, sale or distribution of liquor and to any establishment engaged primarily in the manufacture, distribution and sale of tobacco products.

(l) Appropriate staff members of the Extension Service shall have the privilege of passing at any time upon the general classification and character of firms to whom calendars are sold. Calendar manufacturers shall refrain from selling and distributing calendars in any State where approval for sales and distribution is not first given by the State Extension Director.

(m) Sales representatives shall contact the State Extension Director or his representative before conducting sales in that State, and shall contact the county Extension office before selling or distributing within a county. State or county staff members will advise with authorized company representatives relative to acceptable sales and distribution policies and plans in the State or county concerned.

(n) To the extent practicable, the State Extension Director shall receive an annual list of sponsors of calendars in his State, including the number purchased by each and the distribution by counties.

(o) Calendar manufacturers shall fully inform their promotional, educational and sales representatives regarding the organization, structure, objective and policies of the Cooperative Extension Service of which the 4-H Club Program is a part, as they relate to carrying out the provisions of these regulations. Special care must be exercised to avoid statements or implications which would embarrass the Cooperative Extension Service. No claims may be made of an exclusive franchise or agency for 4-H calendars.

SEC. 8.10. Mailing Lists and Sales Promotion by Employees

The Extension Service or its employees shall not make available mailing lists of 4-H Club leaders, members, or other cooperators. Extension Service employees may not engage in or promote the sale of calendars.

According to the 1959 National 4-H Club Foundation Annual Report, servicing of the National 4-H Calendar Program was centralized for the first time during that year, with the responsibility being placed with the Foundation. Having been operated by both the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work and the National 4-H Club Foundation prior to this date, this move made practical sense since all royalties from the calendar program were being designated for the development and operation of the National 4-H Center (i.e. National 4-H Club Foundation). This "unified calendar program" came into effect in mid-1959, with 1961 calendars being the first ones produced under this arrangement.

At the time of the change over, three calendar companies were providing calendars - Brown & Bigelow, St. Paul, Minnesota; Shaw-Barton, Coshocton, Ohio and Thomas D. Murphy Co., Red Oak, Iowa. By 1961, a fourth company had been added to the group - Gettier-Montanye, Inc. of Glyndon, Maryland.

Whether some of the other calendar companies which had been authorized the use of the 4-H name and emblem were producing any 4-H calendars during this era remains unknown however the above 1955 4-H Subcommittee 'edict' governing calendar companies may simply have scared some of the companies off... even though they retained the authorization.

At the National 4-H Foundation, the calendar program was assigned to the Information Director. Following the merger of the Foundation and the Service Committee into the National 4-H Council in 1977, the program remained with the Communications Division.

While the 1955 official regulations governing the use and authorization of the Name and Emblem of 4-H Club Work concerning the 4-H Calendar Program may appear to be challenging for a calendar company, the memorandum of agreement between an Authorized Calendar Company and the National 4-H Club Foundation in 1959 was even more lengthy and complex.

Sample Memorandum of Agreement Between an Authorized

Calendar Company and the National 4-H Club Foundation

For the purpose of producing, distributing and promoting the sales of an officially approved 4-H Club calndar series, (Calendar Company) , (hereinafter termed the Corporation) and the National 4-H Club Foundation of America, Inc., (hereinafter termed the Foundation) herein specify the responsibilities each will assume, to achieve the objectives of the 4-H Club Calendar program in keeping with polities established by the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State Land-Grant Colleges & Universities.

It is understood by both parties that the calendar program will, as indicated in the authorization for using the 4-H Club name and emblem; (1) enhance the educational purposes, character-building objectives, and dignity of 4-H Club work, and that (2) the distribution of these approved 4-H calendars will contribute to the prestige of 4-H Clubs, members and leaders, increase their membership, and (3) contribute to a favorable public image of 4-H Club work and the work of the Cooperative Extension Service.

Further, this Memorandum is being executed with the Corporation because of its demonstrated ability to produce, distribute and sell 4-H calendars in keeping with the above objectives and policies established by the 4-H movement.

It is hereby mutually agreed that the Corporation will:

1. Consult with the Federal Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Foundation, in developing copy, layouts and designs for proposed 4-H calendars. Such copy, art materials, layouts and designs will be submitted for approval to the Federal Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Foundation.

2. Provide its promotion and sales agents with proper information relative to the organizational structure, policies, objectives and ideals of the Cooperative Extension Service and the 4-H movement, in accordance with the regulations set forth in the "Authorization for the Use of the 4-H Club Name and Emblem."

3. Refrain from selling and distributing calendars in any state where approval has not been given for such sales and distribution by the State Director of Extension.

4. When approval has been given by the State Director of Extension, the Corporation will instruct its salesmen to contact the county Extension office in each county before proceding to sell or distribute calendars, and to further instruct these sales representatives to not offer the calendars for sale to prospects in a county prior to making reasonable effort to contact the county Extension staff. It is understood that Extension Service personnel, including county workers, will not be asked to help sell 4-H calendars.

5. Sell 4-H calendars preferably to purveyors of necessities such as: credit (banks), lumber, food, feeds, fertilizer, farm equipment and so forth.

6. Refrain from selling and/or distributing 4-H calendars through any business whose sponsorship or use thereof might reflect unfavorably on the Cooperative Extension Service or on 4-H Club work. Sales are prohibited to any firm or individual engaging primarily in the manufacture, sale or distribution of liquor, beer or wine, and to any establishment engaged primarily in the manufacture, distribution and sale of tobacco products. It is further agreed that the final determination of the general classification and character of firms to whom calendars may be sold remains with the Cooperative Extension Service and the Foundation. If in the opinion of either the Cooperative Extension Service and the Foundation, it is necessary to exclude a firm or individual from the list of calendar sponsors, the Corporation agrees not to sell or distribute to such firm or individual.

7. The calendar will indicate in a prominent place that the distribution of the calendar is planned to further the educational program of 4-H Club work.

8. Pay to the Foundation a royalty of 10% (ten per cent) of the gross sales price of all approved calendar items sold in the United States and its possessions. Within 30 days after the close of each month, the corporation will submit a certified statement indicating the total sales of approved 4-H calendars for the month and the royalties accrued to the Foundation. The statement will be accompanied by a remittance payable to the National 4-H Club Foundation in the amount indicated on the statement.

It is mutually agreed that the Foundation will assume the following responsibilities within the framework of policy established by the Cooperative Extension Service and in keeping with the regulations governing the use of the 4-H name and emblem:

1. Provide assistance in securing authorization for the use of the 4-H Club name and emblem on an approved calendar series and in keeping with the regulations governing such authorization.

2. Assist in obtaining, and make suggestions for copy, art work, design, and layout for 4-H calendars. It is understood, however, that final authority for approval of such calendar copy and materials rests with the Federal Extension Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

3. Prepare annually and distribute to all state and county Extension offices in the United States and its possessions, an illustrated calendar brochure indicating the Corporation's approved calendar design and urging the cooperation of Extension personnel in the calendar program. It is understood, that such a brochure will indicate all the companies participating in the Calendar program for that year.

4. Correspond with State Directors of Extension and 4-H Club Leaders prior to the annual sales effort of the Corporation calling their attention to the 4-H calendar program as an important tool in developing a favorable public image of 4-H Club work.

5. Project annually an appropriate promotional program which both the Foundation and the Corporation will design and carry out to most effectively attain the objectivs of the 4-H Calendar program.

6. Cooperate with the Corporation in arranging for appropriate contacts for obtaining approval from the respective State Director of Extension for the sale and distribution of 4-H calendars.

7. Assist the Corporation in securing mailing lists of Extension Service personnel, including county personnel, for the distribution of sample calendars and for the convenience of the Corporation's sales representatives in making courtesy calls on said personnel.

Contingent upon the Corporation having written authorization from the Secretary of Agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture for the use of the 4-H Club name and emblem for the years, , the terms of this memorandum shall cover the production, distribution and sales of 4-H calendars for the years, .

It is mutually agreed that either party may terminate this agreement by giving ninety (90) days written notice to the other. In such event, equitable arrangements shall be made for terminating work and processing in an orderly manner within a reasonable time without undue loss or hardship upon either party.

The above terms being mutually satisfactory, authorized officials of the Corporation and the Foundation on this day, of , 19 , affix hereto their signatures as evidence of their intention to carry out faithfully the provisions of this memorandum.

Officer Representing Calendar Company

Officer Representing th National 4-H

Club Foundation of America, Inc.

Rider Attachment to the Memorandum of Understanding between Calendar Company and the National 4-H Club Foundation of America, Inc.

Subject: Servicing of the 4-H Calendar Program

The ten per cent (10%) royalty provided to the National 4-H Club Foundation of America, Inc., in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between (Calendar Company) And the National 4-H Club Foundation of America, Inc., executed on the day of , 19 , is for the purpose of further developing the National 4-H Club Center, which is owned and operated by the Foundation on behalf of the Cooperative Extension Service.

Further, in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding, it is agreed that the Corporation and the Foundation shall project an annual promotion program for the calendar program whereby the Foundation shall render certain services to the Corporation in preparing, distributing and selling approved 4-H calendars. It is hereby mutually agreed that the Corporation will provide to the Foundation, reimbursement on a nominal charge basis for services the Foundation renders to the Corporation in behalf of the 4-H Calendar program, but that said cost or other nominal charges will not exceed $ Annually for the years designated in the Memorandum.

The above terms being mutually satisfactory, officers of the Corporation and the Foundation on this day of , 19 , affix hereto their signature as evidence of their intention to carry out faithfully the provisions of this Rider Attachment.

Dated , 19 By

(Calendar Company)

Dated , 19 By

The National 4-H Club Foundation

of America, Inc.

The calendar companies active in the National 4-H Calendar Program signing this first memorandum (and the date) include:

  • Thomas D. Murphy Co. (July 23, 1959)
  • Shaw-Barton (August 12, 1959)
  • Brown & Bigelow (August 25, 1959)
  • Gettier-Montanye, Inc. (October 18, 1960)

National combined sales from all four calendar companies for 1959-1960 (for hanging in 1961) showed 1,176 counties participating in the program... or 38 per cent. Southern states, and some western states, appeared to be less apt to participate, while New Hampshire and Delaware had 100 per cent of their counties participating. The lowest participation included: Alabama - 25% of counties participating, Arkansas - 17%, Georgia, 23%, Mississippi - 12%, Nevada - 6%, Oklahoma - 14%, Rhode Island - 20%, Tennessee - 22%, Texas - 20%, Utah - 10%, Vermont - 21%, West Virginia - 29%. Alaska and Puerto Rico each had 0%.

Two of the calendar companies supplied data for the 1960 sales year relating to the types of business firms sponsoring their 4-H calendars. One company indicated 32% agricultural firms and 30% finance (banks) and the second company indicated 30% banks and 10% farm supplies. All other categories for both companies were in the single digits.

The production of a 4-H calendar is a long-term investment by the company as well as the 4-H movement with four years involved in the continuing cycle. Taking, for example, the early 1970s:

- 1970 calendars are hanging on our walls;
- 1971 calendars are being sold;
- 1972 calendars are on the drawing boards and will be sampled about November 1 of 1970;
- 1973 calendars are in the planning stage, especially the feature paintings and photographs.

Thus, funds invested in a calendar layout in 1970 would not be returned until late 1972. This is also true of the royalty and service fee due to the 4-H movement... and, the profit earned by the calendar companies.

In the early stages of design, frequent correspondence and personal visits were exchanged between the calendar companies and Extension personnel about the emphasis that Extension would like to see placed on 4-H work for the particular "calendar hanging year." Usually these conversations revolved around the feature painting or photograph. All appropriate persons were consulted in this phase. (Quite often, artists and photographers worked closely with their local county 4-H personnel in getting guidance for aspects of a design. Technical accuracy was important, too, so that a picture would be "true to life" in every respect.

An article in the Fall 1978 National 4-H Council Quarterly is perhaps one of the best examples we have relating to the subject matter coordination with the calendar companies on determining the annual themes. The article reports "that energy conservation, economics, jobs and careers and a broad spectrum of 4-H programs will be featured on the 1980 national 4-H calendars distributed by the three calendar companies. The paintings on both the Shaw-Barton wall calendar and members' calendar shows 4-H'ers at career exploration days. The Thomas B. Murphy calendar depicts a 4-H energy conservation project stressing various methods of insulation. The Brown and Bigelow calendar uses a montage of color photos depicting contemporary projects ranging from agriculture to leisure education. Each of the members' calendars also has photos illustrating 4-H in action on each month's page. Salesmen from the three companies will be calling on county Extension offices beginning in late November and continuing through early 1979 to determine county needs for 1980 calendars to distribute to members, leaders and key persons in the community. Calendars help to give visibility to 4-H all year long and serve as an excellent public relations and recruitment tool. Sales representatives also will want advice on potential sponsors. Every calendar sold brings a contribution to National 4-H Council and helps make possible education programs that strengthen and expand 4-H programs."

One of the greatest difficulties in producing national 4-H calendars was the matter of regional and program balance. One of the merits of 4-H is its flexibility to suit local needs and conditions. This flexibility becomes a wide series of variations when a nationwide approach is taken, as is necessary with calendars. Whenever possible, boys and girls are shown with recognizable 4-H emblems to visually identify the calendar with the program. When 4-H uniforms are used for this identification, it sometimes means that a calendar may seem inappropriate in another section of the country as not representing 4-H work. There was also the matter of regional projects such as forestry, cotton and tobacco. Also, care had to be taken to avoid showing recognizable trade marks or products, especially in the automotive, farm equipment and home appliance areas.

The National 4-H Calendar Program was a major visibility program for 4-H for over five decades. It also was an excellent example of multiple partnerships between Extension at the federal, state and county levels, with the private companies which manufactured and marketed the calendars, and the local companies which advertised on the calendars. Add to this the servicing role played by the National 4-H Service Committee and National 4-H Club Foundation... and, later the National 4-H Council, and it involved many different people.

The Calendar Program had high visibility with millions of 4-H calendars prominently displayed on walls of homes, offices and businesses across the country. In additional to the popular wall calendars, desk calendars were also produced by some of the calendar companies, however these never reached the popularity of the wall hangers.

While the Service Committee, Foundation and Council all conducted aggressive marketing programs for the calendars, including an annual leaflet showing the options, the calendar companies did their own marketing, as well. Most of the companies carried advertising for their version of the 4-H calendar in the National 4-H News magazine to 4-H volunteer leaders each year as one example.

History of the Calendar Companies

Several calendar companies produced national 4-H calendars over the years. During the 1960s, at least four companies - Brown and Bigelow, Gettier-Montanye, Inc., Thos. D. Murphy Co., and Shaw-Barton - were competing for the 4-H calendar market, all offering their own versions of 4-H calendars authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Calendar companies involved in the National 4-H Calendar Program were among the largest calendar-producing companies in America. A brief history of the companies participating in this program follows:

The Thomas D. Murphy Co.

As the promotional business took off during the late 1800s, people continued to look for new ways to advertise their products. In Red Oak, Iowa, Thomas Murphy and Edward Osborne are believed to be the first creators of a calendar that featured a work of art. As newspaper men, they were constantly looking to profit from their printing presses after the news had already been printed; after seeing a watercolor painting of the local courthouse, Osborne thought he could use the image to make his calendars more appealing. They reprinted the painting and then surrounded it with advertisements. When the centerpiece was completed, they attached a calendar to it and forever changed the aesthetics of promotional products. The Thomas D. Murphy Co's line of 4-H calendars didn't vary a great deal from this original concept.

You might say, what's the big deal? It's only calendar art. However, some of the most celebrated artists in America started out as calendar artists. Landscape painter Thomas Moran and Frederic Remington, as well as Charles M. Russell, were among Murphy's artists in their early careers. Later generations of calendar artists included Maxwell Parrish, Hy Hintermeister and Rolf Armstrong.

It is believed that most of the calendar art at the Thomas D. Murphy Co. was destroyed, however a few pieces of calendar art from the company were sold at public auction in New York City in 2002, some bringing thousands of dollars each.

The Thomas D. Murphy Co. closed some years ago, however many of the company records were transferred to the Red Oak Public Library.

Brown & Bigelow, Inc.

Started in St. Paul, Minnesota, Brown & Bigelow was one of the earliest and largest calendar companies - known for great-looking art by contract artists such as Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, C. M. Coolidge, Gil Elvgren and Zoe Mozert. Herbert H. Bigelow in 1896 sold and produced his first calendar order - a one-color cardboard calendar with a picture of George Washington - for a St. Paul coal and wood company. Boy Scout calendars and 4-H calendars were two of the top lines of calendars produced by B & B. The company was also known for their classic line of pin-up calendars, including those distributed in early years by Coca-Cola. These are some of the most highly sought after calendars today by calendar collectors.

Brown & Bigelow is still in business as a provider of promotional products and corporate merchandise services, calendars being only a small part of their offerings.

Shaw-Barton

One of the largest calendar companies in the country, Shaw-Barton, located in Coshocton, Ohio, began in business in 1940, although parent companies included W. W. Shaw & Co., the earliest advertising novelty business in the city, starting in 1884, and Jasper Meeks Company, equally an early Coshocton advertising novelty company, had long histories. Although Shaw-Barton offered a strong line of calendars, the company was equally strong in many other types of specialty printing. It was Shaw-Barton that the National 4-H Service Committee contracted with when they needed a printer for the popular Mulligan Stew television series comicbook which became the largest selling manual in 4-H's history. It is believed that Shaw-Barton may no longer be in business.

Gerlach-Barklow Calendar Company

Manufacturers of art calendars in Joliet, Illinois, Gerlach-Barklow was first authorized by Extension to use the 4-H name and emblem in calendar production on July 23, 1946. The company was started in 1907 by Theodore R. Gerlach, Edward J. Barklow, and K. H. Gerlach. Over the next decade, the company quickly grew into one of the largest calendar and advertising companies in America and like other calendar companies, Gerlach-Barklow made use of many of the prominent American artists of the day for their calendar art. Zula Kenyon, one of the most successful artists in the U.S. during the early 20th century produced over 250 calendar prints for Gerlach-Barklow. Adelaide Hiebel, a friend of Kenyons, also produced many pieces of art for the company, establishing herself as one of the finest female artists of the era while working with Gerlach-Barklow. There is little documented history on this company's production of 4-H calendars other than the fact that they had authorization to use the name and emblem. Gerlach-Barklow Calendar Company was merged with Shaw-Barton, Inc. In 1959.

Gettier-Montanye, Inc.

Located in Glyndon, Maryland, Gettier-Montanye, Inc. has been in operation since 1922 and still is in business as a Baltimore-area advertising specialty company dealing mostly in shirts, outerwear and other clothing products, backpacks, medical scrubs and similar items, plus an extended line of holiday greeting cards. They no longer are in the calendar business with the exception of calendar greeting cards.

Custom-Cal Co.

The Custom-Cal Co. of Atlanta, Georgia, received authorization from the Federal Extension Office to use the 4-H name and emblem on 4-H calendars on December 17, 1954. No documentation has been found to determine the 4-H calendar production efforts of this company.

The Colson Company

The Colson Company of Paris, Illinois is another of the large calendar production companies in America. Started in 1892 by Usher Osborn Colson and his wife, Ada, as a family-operated company, their son Gordon Colson became president of the company following his return from World War II. He brought with him an army buddy by the name of Jay Kaiserman, who became vice president. Kaiserman was the chief liaison for 4-H until into the 1980s. The company by this time had been sold a couple of times and was eventually purchased by John and Cynthia Jedd in the mid-1970s. They continued to run the company, along with being chief liaison to 4-H, until the plant in Paris closed in the mid-1990s. The name was eventually sold and continues as a marketing specialty company. It is believed that The Colson Company was never an official supplier of calendars as part of the National 4-H Calendar Program, although they may well have made calendars for 4-H groups at the local and state levels, as many 4-H alumni insist they purchased their calendars from the Colson Company. The Colson Company also was a major calendar provider for many of the large 4-H donor corporations. The Colson Company was the primary printer and distributor of most of the national 4-H literature - members manuals and leaders guides - developed during the 1960's, 70's and 80's.

Original 4-H Calendar Artwork

"The People's Art", as calendar art was sometimes called, sidestepped the notion of "high art" and offered a slice of "everyday life" as art. Calendar art worked because it pictured a world everyone could relate to over his or her morning coffee, an art form that reaffirmed the day-to-day life of the common person. Nostalgic scenes were popular choices - including the lines of 4-H calendars at all of the calendar companies.

The original artwork for some of the 4-H calendars in the National 4-H Calendar Program can be found at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, however traditionally much of the original art was given away to VIP's each year as a public relations gesture but usually with the understanding that they would eventually be returned to the National 4-H Center. Those pieces given to USDA and Extension administrators were often hung in the USDA conference rooms, but still with the understanding that they were "on loan" from the National 4-H Center (i.e. National 4-H Foundation). Some calendar companies retained their artwork and some of these pieces have been sold on the public market. Unfortunately, some artwork has been destroyed. A news story on the Thomas D. Murphy Co. makes the comment that original works of art for calendars at the company are exceedingly rare because the company destroyed most of the paintings they based their prints off of to prevent images being stolen and then reused by rival calendar companies. Whether or not this was common practice among calendar companies is unknown.






Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.


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