Wednesday Spill: Biting The Hat That Feeds Me

I’m a sucker for certain New Yorker “product” — my favorite sits on my desk: a paperweight* bearing the iconic cover of The New Yorker ‘s inaugural issue (you know, the issue with Rea Irvin’s classic Eustace Tilley cover). The paperweight was sold some years back — I don’t remember when (10 years? 15?).

So when a Google Alert turned up in my email inbox today with the heading “New Summer Items Are Now Available At The New Yorker Store” I rushed over to see what was new. Mingled amidst the great looking Ball Caps and Monocle t-shirts and the fab George Booth Loyal Hound Hoodie was an item that confused me:The Onward and Upward Mug, Irvin Edition.

I wasn’t confused by the mug purveyors using “Onward and Upward” — that’s clever coffee mug-with-a-saying-on-it usage. Clever, but not accurate: the image on the mug has never appeared above or below the Onward And Upward heading in The New Yorker — but, hey, it’s definitely a fun saying. I occasionally use it myself signing off on emails. 

The confusing thing about the ad is that the image on the coffee mug that’s described as the “Irvin Edition” is not in fact Rea Irvin’s drawing that appeared above the Talk Of The Town heading for 92 years. The image you see on the mug is a Christoph Niemann redraw of Rea Irvin’s iconic masthead; it displaced Rea Irvin’s iconic design in the Spring of 2017. With this in mind, it’s particularly weird for the mug to be called the “Irvin Edition”; to me, something labeled the “Irvin Edition” mug would actually carry Rea Irvin’s drawing, not Mr. Niemann’s.

Here’s Mr. Irvin’s drawing, and below it, Mr. Niemann’s redraw…see the difference?


Let’s suppose for a moment that I did a painting of an Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup Can. Let’s then suppose Andy Warhol’s estate began selling coffee mugs bearing my version of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can and called it the “Warhol Edition”…wouldn’t that be…confusing? 

Anywho, why not offer a real “Irvin Edition” coffee mug as well as a “Niemann After Irvin Edition” coffee mug.


More reading here on the Rea Irvin Masthead.

*And here’s the Spill‘s Tilley paperweight post from July 2017:


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