The Art & Humor of
A. Stanley Johnson of Waupun, Wisconsin

presented by The History Center on Main Street,
Mansfield, PA
How We Do Things, Second Ed.
Site Under Construction starting June 2018 -
Still Collecting - October 2021
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1923 Prisoners

Unique among exaggeration/humor cards are those of Johnson's prisoner series. He was in a perfect position to have come up with this innovative idea. The Johnson Studio, which is now the Fletcher Studio, was housed in a wooden building that had been used as a barracks for real prisoners while the stone prison was under construction in the 1850s.

In a January 2018 phone conversation with Rick Fletcher, present owner of the building that had been the Johnson Studio - Fletcher Studio, he indicated that the building has been relocated a distance of 30 feet in 1851 and that A. Stanley Johnson, Jr. purchased it in 1891. It was not the same building as his father, A. S. Johnson, Sr., had used for a studio. Tracie Nichols of the Waupun Historical Society indicated that it is adjacent to the present prison.

Stanley had produced many postcards of both the interior and exterior of the prison, so it was natural for his mind to turn them to humor. He registered a total of eight titles in 1923, near the end of his productivity. They were apparently not widely distributed and are very rare. My own collection includes only one which Mary Ritchie, my scout in Wisconsin, found in a shop in 2015. Morgan Williams had three in his collection, and in 2017 he had the incredible good fortune to acquire three more. The Wisconsin Historical Society has one. The final one, we have not seen and do not have any kind of copy. We hope it shows up someday, so we can see what it is.

A lone prisoner sits forlornly outside his door proclaiming Home Sweet Home.
Our Ball Team -Waupun Prison did really have a baseball team and there is a picture, I believe. We hope to include that when we can acquire it. Note that at least two of this motley group are holding their bats upside down, and one looks rather threatening with his. Once again, Johnson has assembled a group of his friends to pose for one of his creative ideas. Their images is carefully pasted over a photo of an actual prison wall.
Good Bye Old Stone Pile - The probably not so perfect escape.
A variant overprint on one version of this card reads, "Ladies of Means Please Write. We Would Appreciate a Good Home. Waupun, Wis."
Will Be With You Soon - Another escape attempt. This time, with a saw on metal bars.
Tough Birds - Prisoners and guards battle it out.
Welcome to Our City - Smiling prisoners in groups of five, welcome newcomers. They are the same five people in each group using slightly different poses or arrangements. Perhaps Johnson did not have more than five costumes, so had to improvise in this way.
Two Gentlemen in Good Position Wish to Correspond With Ladies of Culture.
The long and the short of this copyright registered title, is that  we don't have it. None of the three collectors who have collaborated in this presentation have seen or have copies of it. If anyone "out there" has one, we'd appreciate a scanned copy to include.
The Long and the Short.

Additional Resources: Waupun Correctional Institute   

Some Johnson Postcards of the Prison   

A. Stanley Johnson, Jr. as Johnson Post Card Works produced many postcards of both the exterior and interior of the Waupun Prison. We are including some here.

Waupun Prison Rear View
Bake Shop at Waupun Prison