Palmer Cox (April 28, 1840–July 24, 1924) was a Canadian-born artist and Freemason, best known for his series of humorous verse cartoons about the mischievous but kindhearted Brownies. The cartoons were published in several books, such as The Brownies, Their Book (1887). Due to the popularity of Cox's Brownies, one of the first popular handheld cameras was named after them, the Eastman Kodak Brownie camera.
He was born in Granby, Quebec, son of Michael and Sarah (Miller) Cox, and became a carpenter and car builder. He moved to San Francisco via Panama as a railroad contractor. He lived in San Francisco from 1863 to 1875. In 1874, he began to formally study drawing and contribute illustrated stories to such publications as Golden Era and Alta California. After 1875 lived in New York (Pine View House, East Quogue, Long Island). His Brownie stories appeared in St. Nicholas and the Ladies' Home Journal.
Cox's Brownies are little men who have adventures together. Each Brownie has a distinctive physical appearance: for example, one wears a top hat and monocle, another is dressed as a stereotypical Chinese peasant, yet another is dressed as a Red Indian chief in war bonnet. Cox's text is quite crude, and does not develop individual personalities for the Brownies, aside from the "ethnic" ones speaking in stereotypical dialect. Cox's illustrations tend to show a crowd of Brownies jumbled together, with specific Brownies recurring from one illustration to the next, but with no Brownie occupying a predictable location in the picture.
In the children's novel Rufus M, written by Eleanor Estes and set during World War I, young Rufus Moffat and his older sister Jane have a friendly contest involving Palmer Cox's Brownie books: each time they come to a new illustration, they compete to see who will be first to find the Brownie in the top hat.