A rebus is a word and image puzzle that is created from whole or partial words, single letters or numbers, and/or pictures that stand for sounds or alphabetical equivalents. (For a short explanation and history of rebuses click here).
A few years ago I came across a set of 25 home-made rebus cards in an antique store in central NY state. They seem to be from a time when home-made fun was all you had. They’re collages made from pieces of text and/or images cut from commercial media (mostly newspapers and magazines) with occasional hand-colored additions.
So, a challenge for you. With this post we’re starting a series where you have the opportunity to puzzle out (pun intended) the meaning of these cards. Once a week, starting today, we will post three of the cards and invite you to solve the rebus. Click on the thumbnails above to view larger versions. Share your guess, with a brief “translation” of the rebus, by posting it to the Comments section below (we will hold back all comments for a week to give everyone a chance to play and will post all responses at the end of the week). For each of the vintage cards, we will select a “winner” from among the correct responders who will receive a similarly collaged rebus (suitable for framing) made by one of us, based on a relatively well-known 20th century book title.
I’m starting you off with three of the vintage rebuses that are easy to moderate in difficulty. Here’s what I can tell you about these (and all of the others to come). I believe all are titles of books, most published before the 20th century. Some are classics and will sound familiar even today but some are more obscure and may have slipped into the fog of memory (so even is you figure them out you may not recognize them). The rebuses include both picture/word/letter/number equivalencies as well as homonym and symbolic equivalencies. I do not know the solution to all of them but will referee your responses and award the prize based on my best assessment of your guess (if I think it’s correct). The hand-written numbers in the upper left corners are not a part of the rebus, just the number of each card in the set – I’m not posting them in order so don’t get hung up about the numbers but do use the numbers to refer to your answers. You can submit answers for all three or just select ones. While there are prizes for figuring them out, there are no penalties or ridicule for wrong guesses. Note: If you read our blog on Facebook you have to go to our blog site to make your guess. Don’t put your answer on FB.
In between these rebus posts we may be posting our usual food diversions so don’t worry that we’ve forgotten the contest. We hope this will provide a little fun while you wait for Spring. Answers and winners for Part 1 will be announced Sunday, February 24th.
Here’s a simple example, appropriate for Valentine’s Day (with explanation) of a rebus if you need help getting the idea.
Of course this solution depends on you “reading” the symbol for U as the letter “U” and not a homonym for “ewe”, a female sheep, or a pictograph for “magnet”, which makes even less sense. In fact, a picture of a sheep could have been substituted for the “U” without changing the meaning of the sentence because the sound would be the same. The “can”, letter “C”, “eye” and “heart” are pretty self explanatory although the “eye” could be read as “pupil”, “lash” or even “iris”) – of course the goal is to construct meaning out of the symbols so those “readings” wouldn’t help.