Presentation | 04.03.2020 – 03.05.2020

Personal Favorites ... temporarily closed! Onkel Canterbumm – How an Advertising Character Made It into the Archive

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The storage facilities of the Draiflessen Collection house a vast number of objects and documents that tell a particular story, fill in gaps, or constitute an important discovery. For each installment of “PERSONAL FAVORITES,” which is a series of intermittent presentations, selected treasures are retrieved from storage and put on display with the stories that lie behind them. This year, the staff members of the Draiflessen Collection are presenting a selection of their personal favorites.

The character of Onkel Canterbumm (Uncle Canterbumm) is linked to the magazine “CANTERBUMM erzählt Euch was” (CANTERBUMM Has a Story for You). The primary target audience for these “C&A-Hausmitteilungen für seine kleinen Freunde und Kunden” (C&A Company Newsletters for His Young Friends and Customers) was schoolchildren and their families. Each month during the 1930s and 1950s, C&A customers— and their children—could find copies of the magazine at the packing tables in C&A stores. Initially, the magazine was published from September 1936 until the outbreak of World War II in September 1939. C&A Brenninkmeyer in Berlin was the publisher. The magazine was popular during the prewar years and, after the war, it was produced again—from January 1951 and continuing into 1957—by C&A Brenninkmeyer, now based in Düsseldorf.

Using the example of the Onkel Canterbumm advertising character, this presentation offers visitors a glimpse inside the work of an archivist. Consideration is given to the incorporation of a wide variety of sources on Onkel Canterbumm into the archive of the Draiflessen Collection. It also focuses on the processing of these materials to preserve their original state and on their cataloguing with the aid of the archive database. A glossary of terms with key definitions from the world of archiving runs through the exhibition and provides assistance with understanding the presentation. Highlights among the works on view include issues of the children’s magazine “Canterbumm erzählt Euch was”; the animated advertising film “Komm mit mein Schatz” (Come Along My Darling) by the illustrator Johannes Maria Schneider (1911–2005); and Schneider’s hand-drawn sketches for illustrations published in the magazine.

Kom mit
Folie aus „Komm mit mein Schatz“, 1934 | © Draiflessen Collection
Cover canterbumm
Covers Canterbumm | © Draiflessen Collection

An Irresistible Offer

The children’s magazines featuring the good-natured Onkel Canterbumm character from the 1930s and 1950s have long been personal favorites of the staff of the Draiflessen Collection’s archive. Accordingly, great was the delight when a number of original drawings for the magazine by the graphic designer Johannes Maria Schneider (1911–2005) were donated to Draiflessen in 2015. An archive is a facility for preserving historical documents of enduring value. Countries, cities, churches, and, in many cases, companies set up archives in order to safeguard the (usually written) traces of their past.  

1936 1937 100179 %284%29
Onkel Canterbumm, 1936-37 | © Draiflessen Collection
Original illustration for the story “Ein Hampelbein reist um die Welt” (A Jumping-Jack’s Leg Travels the World), issue 12, 1955 | © Draiflessen Collection

Preservation under Optimal Conditions

 Following the receipt of the original drawings by the Mettingen-born graphic designer Johannes Maria Schneider, the works were placed in acid-free archival folders—the German technical term for this is umbetten (literally “to move to another bed”). Their subsequent preservation under constant climatic conditions in the Draiflessen Collection’s archival storage facility is designed to protect their original state for as long as possible. The preservation of documents, photographs, sound recordings, and film reels is one of the tasks of an archive. Damaged items are restored with care and readied for their placement in archival storage—one such preparatory measure, for instance, is the removal of rusting paper clips. In addition, the archiving of digital data is becoming more and more important given the large variety of file formats and storage media. 

Onkel Canterbumm in the Archive Database

Information relating to the Canterbumm documents— including titles, descriptions of content, and keywords—was catalogued with the help of an archive database. Keyword searches allow desired documents to be quickly and easily retrieved. An archive database constitutes an access point to the documents held in the archive. The archive database search functions make it easier to locate documents in response to different queries. The number of relevant documents is narrowed down, for example, by using keywords and categories. 

Canterbumm 1954
„Der Eisbärkönig und das fremde Bärenkind“, Folge 1/2, 1954 | © Draiflessen Collection

Zeichnungen schneider eisb%c3%a4rk%c3%b6nig %281%29
Original illustrations for the story “Der Eisbärkönig und das fremde Bärenkind” (The Polar Bear King and the Foreign Bear Cub), issues 1–2, 1954 | © Draiflessen Collection

Giving Onkel Canterbumm a Second Life

Without the Draiflessen Collection archive, the character of Onkel Canterbumm might possibly have faded into oblivion. The evaluation of historical documents constitutes an essential precondition for remembrance of the past. It was for this reason that the Draiflessen Collection, in 2017, devoted an issue of its “OPEN UP!” series to Onkel Canterbumm and presented the children’s magazines as documents of recent history. When evaluating an archive’s documents, vestiges of the past are compared and interpreted from the perspective of the present. In the process, scattered points of reference fit together, puzzle-like, to create a new overall impression. 

Canterbumm | © Draiflessen Collection (Archiv)
Onkel canterbumm bunt
Onkel Canterbumm | © Draiflessen Collection

Onkel Canterbumm to color

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