19th century school children were regularly rewarded by their teachers for work well done, good behavior, and attendance among other merits. In the early years, these accolades were hand written and illustrated by teachers. But even as early as 1811 through the beginning of the 20th century, illustrated reward of merit cards were printed in thousands of designs and sold by printers and booksellers.
These three Excelsior “certificates of fifty merits” are examples of a lithographers’ design printed on different colored papers. Each has a different chromolithograph female portrait flanked by the letter L--Roman numeral for 50. It is unusual to find a copyright date on rewards but all of these are copyrighted 1876. Two are pre-dated 18__. The third is pre-dated 187_. Each is printed in gold ink on heavy coated cardstock. Two are still blank on the front (although Flora Chase’s name is penciled on the back of the pink one) and the third was presented to S. R. Eldridge for Good Conduct from April 25 to June 14, 1881 by May F. Esver, Teacher.
The rewards are in good condition for their age. Two have been removed from albums and have residue on the back. All have corner bumps but no creases or tears. Please examine the photos and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
While you are here, do peruse the other ephemera I have available for sale at this time. Thank you for visiting my shop today.