Collection MSG 1262 - Palmer Cox Collection

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Palmer Cox Collection

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1924- ? (Creation)
    Gould, Emily
  • ? - 1996 (Creation)
    Buchanan, Emily Phyllis
  • 1870-1924 (Creation)
    Cox, Palmer, 1840-1924

Physical description area

Physical description

2 boxes : 1 m of textual records, 5 photographs, 62 illustrations, 2 books

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Emily Phyllis Buchanan, born in 1914, is the daughter of William and Emily Gould, niece of the Canadian-American author Palmer Cox. In the 1930s, she lived in Montreal and worked as a secretary, frequently vacationing in different places in Québec. During that time, she meets John Edger Buchanan, whose father was a soldier during the First World War. She marries him some time later. During the later part of her life, she assisted several projects or institutions in preserving and transmitting the legacy of Palmer Cox. To this end, she donated part of her collections of Palmer Cox-related material to McGill University in 1996.

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Biographical history

Son of Sarah Miller Cox and Michael Cox (Waterloo veteran), Irish immigrants, Palmer Cox is born in Granby, Québec in 1840. He leaves after his graduation at the protestant Granby Academy to work various jobs (carpentry, railroad and ship construction) in Massachussets, Ontario and California. In Ontario, in 1865, he is part of the local militia, in the quality of drill sergeant. He settles in San Francisco in 1870 where he joins the Mission Masonic Lodge (n.169) and starts to publish stories, poems and illustration in local magazines, and a first book of humorous illustrated verse. During this time, he becomes a United States citizen. He then moves to New York in 1874 to 1878, where he publishes three more books of humorous verse and illustrations, as well as illustrations and poems created for advertisement purposes. He then starts to write and draw for a younger audience. He produces poems and illustrations for Wide Awake! and St Nicholas Magazine from 1879, the latter of whom will see the appearance of the Brownies in 1883. These characters will be the center of Palmer Cox’s work for the rest of his life, appearing in magazines, in 11 books, various stage shows and plays, and derived commercial products. During this time, he lives in Broadway, then East Quogue (N.Y.). Aside from the Brownies, Palmer Cox also has some of his earlier books, aimed at a broader audience, re-published and augmented, continues his involvement in masonry, and co-create a series of children’s stories with E. Veale, in which he only illustrates. He retires to Granby in the 1910’s, where he had a house named Brownie Castle built from 1902 to 1906, where he is considered as a public figure, Palmer Cox regularly reading original poems and speeches at various social occasions, such as school graduation ceremonies, meetings of the Granby Congregational Social Club. Regularly praising American patriotism and himself a U.S. citizen, he remains involved as a Canadian citizen, loyal to the United Kingdom, and even composes a poem for the coronation of George V, King of the United Kingdom, in 1910. He remains a frequent visitor and public figure in East Quogue, where he delivers a speech in 1917 supporting American patriotism and the Liberty Bonds during World War I. He is honored by the city on the occasion of his 80th birthday, with a production of the play the Brownies in Fairyland by local children and several speeches. He dies in Granby in 1924. Having sold more than 100 000 Brownies books as early as 1895, Palmer Cox was a literary figure and a pioneer in licensing his characters to be used for commercial purposes, with Brownies-themed drinks, games, tableware, dolls and the Eastman-Kodak Brownie camera.

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Custodial history

This collection's origin is a donation by Emily Phyllis Buchanan to McGill University in 1996, wishing to safeguard the legacy of author and illustrator Palmer Cox. Originally, the donation comprised material related to Phyllis Buchanan and her close family, which has led to the creation of a separate Phyllis Buchanan Fonds.
Some material in this fonds belonged to Palmer Cox, which gave it in inheritance to his niece, Emily Gould, Phyllis Buchanan's mother, herself inheriting from her mother

Scope and content

The fonds consists primarily of written material, most of which seems to be from the hand of Palmer Cox (poems, speeches, drafts of published or unpublished works). There is also some graphic material, financial records and parts of correspondence.
The fonds also contains several graphic parts illustrating Brownies books in the making.

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