Sunday, 29 April 2018

Tex Brings the Action - (Volume 1 Addition)

League Wide Schedule front panel (left) with graphic design based on the image from one of the Tex Coulter Electrohome Football Action Scenes Issue (pictures not to scale) 

Every now and then something pops up on Ebay that either sheds some light on a issue whose method of distribution was unknown or poorly documented, or adds new collectibles to the list of things that were produced, and with some diligence can now be searched for, or sometimes both as is the case for the topic for today's blog post.

The above schedule for the 1972 CFL season has a front graphic derived from artwork that former Montreal Alouette lineman Tex Coulter produced sponsored by Electrohome, an electronics retailer in Canada during that era. The known issue of two colour posters plus a promotional folder was listed in Collecting Canadian Football Volume 1 estimated to the Late 60's (which should probably be revised to the Early 70's). But the distribution channel for the items was a mystery and there is no evidence that there were any more than two posters completed for that set.

Inside and back panels of the same schedule

 But the interesting stuff comes on the other panels of the schedule pamphlet. You can see on the left that you could get free "FOOTBALL ACTION PAINTINGS" from your Electrohome dealer credited to Tex Coulter. So distribution mystery solved apparently, ... except the poster sizes are stated as 22" X 30" and the known posters with the folder were only 11" X 15" in size and incidentally are described as "Football Action Scenes".

I think it is unlikely that the size is an error, I suspect that Coulter produced the smaller sized paintings paired with the explanatory folder first a year or so earlier and they were then adapted for this promotion in a larger size in 1972. With no CFL league or team identifying marks (just uniform colour schemes that matched existing CFL franchises), unless you really knew your vintage CFL memorabilia and knew who Tex Coulter was, then most people encountering one would have just concluded that these were random generic football drawings. Consequently the survival rate for these pieces (already limited since they were large posters) would probably have been perilously low.

The other panel shows a fantastic associated "FOOTBALL ACTION LAMP" again probably without CFL identifying markings but with a solid Canadian pedigree nonetheless. Whether Coulter also drew the graphics shown on the lamp, or his other graphics appeared on the lamp or there were only two different posters produced is unknown. A product box for the lamp was probably also made. In any case there is good reason to have a quick scan through the old lamp sections of flea markets and antique malls looking for this old gem.

Uncatalogued mid 1950's portrait photograph of Coulter from Montreal above left,
and Coulter's 1954 Blue Ribbon card with the Alouettes above right 

So when it comes to the collectible output of Tex Coulter, the above items were just the tip of the iceberg. Tex (Dewitt) Coulter was a star All-American tackle for Army winning the college National Championship in 1945, He then played six seasons for the New York Giants in the NFL before coming to Montreal for a four year playing career from 1953 to 1956 as part of the Alouettes mid fifties powerhouse. Coulter played both ways on the line (incredibly selected as an All-Star both Offensively and Defensively for three consecutive years!!) and also handled the punting so he was almost never off the field.

Tex was often the subject of informational cartoons, the type of which were very popular in newspapers for roughly the first two thirds of the 20th century, foreshadowing the day when he would create similar artwork

After retiring in 1957 Tex elected to stay in Montreal and remained active in sports as an author, reporter and radio commentator but found his greatest success as a prolific artist and illustrator. He drew dozens if not hundreds of topical football themed cartoons for the dominant Canadian Football weekly newspapers of the day, as well as contributing columns and stories in many issues.

Football Fanfare - July 27, 1957 & Canadian Football News - October 17th, 1959 

Tex produced colour artwork with a couple of examples shown below that accompanied a story by Andy O'Brien in the old Weekend Magazine newspaper supplements that were full of interesting old Canadian football content, most of which has never been catalogued. Coulter also did Hockey illustrations creating hundreds of classic portraits and drawings of many of the greatest players of all time during the golden age of the NHL in the fifties and sixties. You can google his work to see many fine examples online. 

Selected article illustrations from Weekend Magazine Vol 10 No 34, 1960

Coulter was an entrepreneur with his hands in many projects, whether it was authoring pamphlets about sports or being a distributor during the sixties Bobbleheads period (both football and hockey figures), he was always active and often creatively involved. 

Early sixties C.F.L. bobble-head mascot outer box paper label above left,
and the cover of a how to manual about football in French, late fifties

In the early seventies Tex finally left Canada moving back to Texas, before he left he also did one of a kind portraits of some of the Alouette players and these as well as his originals from all of his decades of artistic output have now become sought after collector pieces as well. 

Late sixties or early seventies Coulter portrait of Al's Peter Dalla Riva

Coulter passed away in 2007, he was a remarkable talent on the field but his most lasting and unique legacy to Canadian sport history was using his fantastic artistic capabilities to chronicle for posterity many of the most famous and iconic Canadian athletes of all time. 

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