Mother Matters - Mother “Motto” Pictures

By Suzanne Skwarski, Plank Road Questers #236

For most individuals, mothers have held the highest regard in many cultures since the dawn of history. Early peoples revered the mother figure in sculpture, stories, mosaics, and paintings, as goddesses and heroines.

For centuries, poets, artists, writers, and musicians revered the mother figure in all genres, styles, and themes. In the 1700’s, English Gentry gave their servants a holiday so to commemorate their mothers with cards and cakes. This custom gained popularity in the United States and originated the greeting card company in 1886. In 1907, George Buzza established his Motto Pictures empire and continued with a hefty production profit until 1942. When merged with the Charles Clark Company in 1928, Buzza commandeered a $2.5 million printing operation that employed writers, illustrators, printers, framers, and logistical staff. These Motto prints depicted mothers in various settings and artistic styles with colored lithographs adorned with poetry which heralded the virtues of motherhood. Framed pieces were produced in many sizes, motifs, and shapes with elaborate or plain molding stock. Sweet sentimental pictures sold in huge quantities, and lasted in popularity until 1949. As printing methods improved and Hallmark Cards gained market share, both in popularity and volume, the age of the Motto picture ended as rapidly as it emerged. Collectors can find these syrupy sweet mementos of a by-gone age in many antique shops and on-line etail sites. With affordable low price tags, and wide ranges of availability, the Motto print stands uniquely and still gives tribute to that special lady who holds the title of “Mother.”

From the collection of Marieanna Bair
(Sources available upon request)