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 Music Restoration   Cover Art History   Cover Artist Profiles 
RagPiano.com - Guide to Ragtime Era Sheet Music Artists
Sheet Music Cover Art History (continued)
Biographies of Sheet Music Cover Artists
Researched by Bill Edwards:
Contents Copyright ©2001/2004/2015 by William G. Edwards
Following the trend that E.T. Paull was very much on top of, many publishers started to enhance their covers more so with art than just text. There are a number of broad categories of cover art that were used, the most obvious pertaining to the title or content of the music within. However, particularly in the case of piano rags or marches, the title did not always suggest a format for the cover art, so publishers and artists winged it. There was also a matter of the style of art that would represent the piece, whether the content within was clear or not. With that in mind, a few of the categories for what is now collectible cover art in addition to or replacing textual content might be as follows (in no particular order - click on a category title for further detail - hover to view an example):
Publishers established in the 1890s and 1900s saw the need for catchy covers immediately, particularly to accompany the emerging ragtime genre. In the 1890s, the introduction of photographic printing and offset presses, which were a modification of the lithography process, put fancy color covers within affordable reach of all commercial publishers. Some of the older firms resisted for some time, either continuing to use text-based covers or relying on commercial stock art in a monochrome format, but most of them either languished or caught on to the reality of marketing in a new century. A new field emerged from the need for what was, in essence, perpetual advertising - that of the career cover-art illustrator. Working within their own realm of personal talent, be it realistic portraits or eye-catching graphical content, many of them thrived throughout the ragtime era. Some publishers retained the services of an in-house designer or artist, but the top illustrators worked as independent contractors for whoever would buy their art. Some even created a catalog of stock illustrations, any of which could be used for a variety of pieces. Some of the most prolific are featured here. Thanks up front should go to Marion Short who with her husband Roy uncovered or collected information on many of these artists when compiling her five books on Collectible Sheet Music Cover Art, all of which are highly recommended acquisitions for any collector's library.
You may view the linked covers using two different methods. To see a half-size image on this page, simply over the mouse over a tune title for a second and it will load. To see a full-size image hover the mouse over the image, or to see at least some of them with more information on the piece, click on the tune title to load the cover window.

A. (August/Ernest) Hoen & Company hoen signature
Ernest A. Hoen Portrait
Ernest August Hoen
(September, 1852 to April, 1914)
Edward W. Hoen Portrait
Edward Weber Hoen
(August, 1862 to April 12, 1941)
Selected Covers (Hover to View)    
Best represented musically by the large remaining cache of E.T. Paull publications, the A. Hoen lithography house hosted some of the finest craftsmen of the trade, adept not only at superb illustrations and mapwork, but the demanding process of color separation onto multiple stones as well. Unfortunately for the sake of historic clarification or recognition, virtually all who worked for Hoen were "company men" whose names have not made it to print, unless they were cleverly concealed within the drawings somewhere.polka sheet music There was also a very coherent and uniform style with most of the Hoen covers and posters, which would make it even harder to distinguish the work of any individual artist. There are employee names throughout the years associated with the firm, but their duties are not clearly known.
The firm was initially started by German immigrant Edward Weber and his nephew Ferdinand August Hoen in Baltimore, Maryland in 1835 as Edward Weber & Company. They printed the first color cards ever produced in the United States and the first lithographic maps printed in the country as well in 1842 for the Fremont Reports, connected to the United States Congressional Reports. August took the firm over with his brother Ernest Hoen and cousin Henry Hoen in 1848 upon Weber's death. Hoen's new firm of A. Hoen & Company not only provided some very fine monochrome and color covers and litho-photography for local Baltimore publishers, but for firms in Washington, D.C. and as far off as the Carolinas.
Some of the artist's names from that era, notably Clayton (a prolific Baltimore engraver), Gillingham, Webb, Duffy and W. French, have been found on some covers. In the 1860s August Hoen patented what he termed the Lithocaustic method of lithography which allowed for easier viewing of the etching in the stone while it was in progress, making the shading of gradients and halftones a much faster process. He prominently displayed a critically acclaimed print from this process in the 1876 Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1860 to 1883 August was awarded several patents for processes intended to create improved halftone prints with both monochromatic and multi-stone lithography.
a hoen sheet music covers
Henry worked with the Baltimore firm until his death in 1893. Alfred Tennyson Hoen (b. 1873), the youngest of the six sons and three daughters of the founder, ran the A. Hoen lithography firm in Baltimore with older brother Albert Berthold Hoen throughout the early 20th century. August Hoen died in 1886, before the reign of E.T. Paull, but certainly with a well-cemented reputation for top quality prints, very notably on some beautiful cigar boxes. Albert and Alfred were also important contributors of cartography prints done for the U.S. Geological Survey, and later for the Geographical review. Alfred would continue his father's work in creating improvements in the process, particularly in the use of varying grades of lithographic limestone and similar sources. Albert rendered many improvements in setting uniform color standards. The Baltimore branch also produced a few mono-lithographic music sheets in the 1870s and 1880s.
A branch of A. Hoen eventually surfaced in Richmond, Virginia, run mostly by one of August's sons, Ernest August Hoen, who was named after his uncle, assisted by his younger cousin, Ernest's son Edward Weber Hoen, named after the founder. Ernest was a fine musician and music lover who attended Loyola College. August had opened a branch in Richmond, Virginia around the time of the Civil War, and one of their first contracts was to print confederate money. After learning the printing business with his father, he moved to Richmond became the manager in the early 1880s, but it is hard to discern if any of the Baltimore artists followed. Some sources cite 1876 as the year he moved, but Ernest is still shown as working for his father or uncle in Baltimore at the time of the 1880 census, and still living in Baltimore for the 1887 city directory.
In the newer Richmond plant the quality of inks and paper stock, as well as the multi-layer lithography process itself saw great advances, to the point where most Hoen-produced covers and cigar boxes from the 1890s forward still retain their original hues after more than a century. Whereas most sheet music publishers used from one to three colors in simple patterns for their covers, E.T. Paull was looking for something more, and settled on the five color multi-layer process utilized by Hoen, instantly setting his works apart visually and thus creating sales for what the consumer viewed as both music and art. Oldest sibling Adolph G. Hoen eventually moved to Richmond, but his involvement in the firm may be peripheral, as he was listed as a physician in 1910.
The works by the Hoen firm are usually well-marked so their parentage is clear, whether it be maps, cigar boxes, business stationary, posters, or their beautiful sheet music covers over a period of seven-plus decades. Focusing on the era of E.T. Paull, they tended towards not only a high modicum of realism (with very few caricatures), but a level of detail in the backgrounds that most cover artists ignored.
The A. Hoen Factory in Richmond, Virginia around 1903.
the a. hoen factory in richmond, virginia
This may well have been at the insistence of Paull, who most certainly knew what he wanted.
The Baltimore branch of Hoen had been creating lithographic covers since 1848 and chromolithographic sheet music covers since 1851, mostly serving a wide range of Baltimore and Philadelphia music publishers. Among their most frequent Baltimore clients were the firms of George Willig, F.D. Benteen and Henry McCaffrey. However, their sheet music cover output appears to have ended in the mid-1880s.
The Richmond branch of A. Hoen, on the other hand, had no history of providing sheet music cover art before they were contracted for The Chariot Race or Ben Hur March in 1894 by E.T. Paull. It appears that his was the only sheet music they printed covers for (in most cases, the music plates themselves were created elsewhere), it is likely that Paull found some way to convince them that the visibility provided by his music might bring the firm more work at the very least. They were also possibly the only company in Richmond, much less Virginia, capable of the level of artistry he was looking for, with their enormous building covering a full city block, indicating stability and growth. At one point in the mid-1910s there were between 125 and 300 employees [reports vary] working at the Richmond branch.
Whether it was a battle scene or some natural catastrophe, the vivid hues the Hoen firm achieved, often focusing on reds, provided great accent to even the smallest of details such as lava ash or a swinging sword. Even though it is common to display framed sheet music today, it was an honor applied largely to the Hoen works from the Paull catalog during the early 20th century. As Paull engaged the company even after he had moved to New York in 1896, with Hoen covers appearing into the late 1910s, there may be some possibility that some of the production was also done in the Baltimore branch of the firm, but this is difficult to verify as there were no distinct codes or indicators to identify this.
Ernest was an active member of Richmond society and a member of the Wednesday Club as well as the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Westmoreland Club. He was married to Baltimore native Clara Byrne and had two sons, Hudson P. Hoen and Dr. Walter Scott Hoen, a United States Navy surgeon in the 1910s. Ernest had his own printing patent listed in 1907, which consisted of a unique method for printing dispensable tickets. His health started to fail in 1913 and he retreated to Atlantic City, New Jersey in the spring of 1914 to try and recover. It was there that pneumonia took his life in April 1914. His son, Walter, died in July 1918 in Port Au Prince, Haiti, while on Naval duty.
The Richmond branch continued into the early 1930s under Edward Hoen, concentrating on the envelope business. He finally passed in 1941 at age 78. Both of the Hoens are buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Albert Hoen continued to run the Baltimore office as president of the firm until his death on May 1, 1956 at age 93. The original Baltimore office of the Hoen firm continued in the lithography and printing business until around 1981 when it dissolved after filing for bankruptcy.

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William Starmer  and  Fredrick Starmer starmer signature
William A. Starmer Portrait
William Austin Starmer
(January 28, 1872 to September, 1955)
Frederick W. Starmer Portrait Not Available
Frederick Waite Starmer
(September 2, 1878 to March 19, 1962)
Selected Covers (Hover to View)    
Virtually anybody who has even a minimal sheet music collection that includes ragtime-era items likely has a cover done by one of the prolific Starmer Brothers. They had a consistency that was hard to match in terms of creating eye-catching cover art that did justice to or often outshined the contents within. By some accounts, they were responsible for nearly a quarter of all signed covers in large format from 1900 to around 1919, and continued producing cover art into the mid-1940s.
The artists were both born and raised in Leeds, Yorkshire England, William in 1872 and Frederick in 1878, to boot maker James Starmer and Ann Elizabeth Starmer. There was one older brother, Edwin J. Starmer, born around 1868. In the 1891 England census, the family was shown living at the same address in Leeds that they were in a decade prior, and 19-year-old William was listed as a litho-artist or lithographer. The brothers and their father eventually relocated from England to New York City, William in 1898 and Frederick in 1899. James returned to England for a time, followed by William in 1900, who went back to marry Julitta (Dawson) Starmer. He returned to New York shortly thereafter to continue his work. The rest of the Starmer family and Julitta followed in June 1904. The brothers were set up fairly soon as draftsmen and artists. For many years, it was hard to discern that there were two separate Starmers at work, since the covers had similar attributes and they all had the same Starmer signature.
starmer sheet music covers
According to collector Marion Short, it was piano roll and sheet music collector Mike Montgomery who first discovered the identity of at least one of the Starmer brothers through an invoice obtained from the daughter-in-law of publisher Jerome H. Remick, a bill from William Austin Starmer. Curiously, it listed him as an "Artist and Medical Draughtsman" from Long Island. The brothers somehow escaped the 1900 census, but a check of the 1910 census showed that William was the older brother of Fredrick, and that they were immigrants from England. Even though William and Julitta had evidently had a son, William J. Starmer, in 1907, he was also curiously not listed in the record. Both brothers listed artist as their occupation in 1910, with William as "commercial" and Frederick as "illustrating." William and his wife shared their Manhattan apartment with Frederick as well. Both also appeared at the same address in several Manhattan directories of the 1910s into the 1920s, usually with Frederick as draftsman and William as an artist.
The 1920 census showed all of the Starmers still living in the same apartment, with both brothers listed as commercial draftsmen. William's wife Julitta passed on in February 1922. Passenger manifests of the 1910s and 1920s indicate many trips back to England as well, so they did stay connected with their home country. William was remarried to highly-regarded English teacher Edith Mary White in the summer of 1924 in Bradford, England, her native city. The following year she retired from a 35 year career of teaching, and was widely honored for her service, although in the New York state census for 1925 she still listed teacher as a profession. At the time of the 1930 census William's accountant son, 23 year-old William, Jr., was still living with the couple in Queens. William Sr. listed himself as a commercial artist with his own studio, likely the same situation as in previous years. The retired Mrs. Starmer also was noted in the newspapers frequently as leading the choirs at the Remsen Street Reformed Baptist Church in Queens in addition to her other church activities.
William Starmer made several trips back to England, likely to see family or keep his visa current, from as early as 1907 to the late 1930s before travel restrictions were in place due to the oncoming war. Both brothers sailed there and back in 1905, 1907, 1909, 1913 and 1924. On January 31, 1924, he was naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Frederick appears to have made one final round trip voyage in September 1925 before returning to England for good around 1929. Information on him in the 1930s is difficult to come by at this point, but it is assumed he continued a career in commercial art either in Bournemouth near Dorset. William took subsequent round trip voyages in 1927, 1929, 1936, 1937 and 1938. The 1940 enumeration taken in Queens showed him still listed as a commercial artist.
In the November 12, 1941, Long Island Daily Press, an article about William Starmer, now living in Astoria, New York, stated that Frederick had immigrated back to Bournemouth, England around 1929. Whether he continued his career as a full-time artist is uncertain, but as World War II was started, Frederick had a found another important position in his community:
William A. Starmer... a commercial artist, spent Armistice Day in the Astoria Station House, coloring maps of the precinct zones for civilian defense.
He opined that his brother, Fred W. Starmer, 63, also a commercial artist, was equally busy in civilian defense work 3,000 miles away in Bournemouth, England, where Fred is a post warden and has experienced more than 200 air raids since the outbreak of the war.
Laying aside his paints and brushes and other tools for a moment, William related that he and his brother came to this country from England in 1898 and went into business as commercial artists. Fred returned to England 12 years ago.
As soon as the war began, the older brother said Fred began working on defense maps for the sections of Southampton and Weymouth, similar to the job which William is doing.
The older brother, who was one of the first to report to the Astoria police for post warden duty, said he received a letter from Fred several years ago but it was badly cut up [redacted] by the censor and all he could make out was: "I have plenty to tell you." The censor, however, permitted a snapshot to pass
It showed Fred and eight other post wardens wearing their tin hats and gas masks, sitting in a sandbag shelter.
William died in New York in September of 1955 at age 83, and Frederick followed in Bournemouth, England, in March of 1962 at age 84.
The sheer volume of work with the Starmer signature on it makes it clear that both of them worked in the sheet music field as well as their other pursuits. Assuming each brother signed their own covers, albeit with only the last name, and that there are some distinctions between the drawings they created in virtually every conceivable category and theme, it may be possible at some point to catalog to a certainty of 70% or higher which brother drew particular covers, and if there were any collaborative efforts. But given their closeness in both style and life-long pursuits, it would stand to reason that there was some crossover in their drawing styles, and perhaps many of the brilliant covers they turned out were collaborations.
As you look through their collection, represented here in only a small quantity, note their fluid use of color, as well as the ability to draw realistic people simply but elegantly without delving into caricature unless it was called for. There is a mix of still lifes with simply patterned covers, and their command of lettering in interestingly derived fonts is also evident. Style on many of the covers is paramount, whether it be for fashion or for fadeaways. Rarely did anything delve into negative stereotype, perhaps a part of their British upbringing. Much in the vein of Currier and Ives, the brothers often captured subjects in a candid photographic sense that made the drawings look very natural. Through Remick's sheer volume of distribution, their work is in many ways the face of the ragtime era at its best.

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J.E. Rosenthal j.e. rosenthal signature
Joseph E. Rosenthal Portrait not available
Joseph E. Rosenthal
(August, 1859 to March 3, 1935)
Selected Covers (Hover to View)    
Joseph E. Rosenthal was largely about the business of art, and as a result did not leave much else behind on himself or his family. He was born in New York City to Polish father Marcus Rosenthal and German mother Maria Rosenthal, the last of four children, including Charles (1834), Lettie (possibly Leticia) (1854), and Louis (1857). In the 1860 census Marcus was listed as owning a clothing store in Manhattan. Marcus also appeared in the 1870 census in Richmond, Virginia, as a retired merchant without the rest of the family, of which the circumstances are unknown. The rest of the family is difficult to locate in that record.
As was common at that time, Joseph likely took on an apprenticeship in his teens, and ended up in a lithography shop. He clearly displayed an innate artistic talent, so that line of work was well suited to his skill set.
rosenthal sheet music covers
Whether he was any relationship to famous Philadelphia lithographer Max Rosenthal is unclear, but it is possible that he trained with this master given the close proximity of that city to New York. In 1879 at age 18 Joseph opened his own studio in Manhattan. He took on several types of projects as his business became established, including posters, magazines and custom portraits. Joseph is listed in New York City directories from the mid-1880s on as a lithographer, initially living at 255 E. 45th Street, then uptown at 155 E. 124th Street. His office address was at 411 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, near where the first Thomas Edison electrical power plant was installed. Since 1976, the Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers has occupied that location in a newer building.
Joseph married German immigrant Rose Oldman around 1892, and their son Herman E. was born on May 6, 1893. He was followed by Leonel P. in April, 1899 and Helen S. in 1900. Curiously his profession listed in the 1900 census was that of hardware, in spite of his being well established in lithography. This may have been a sideline, or an error on the part of the enumerator. During the previous four years Joseph had been engaged by publisher and composer Edward Taylor (E.T.) Paull, who came to New York in mid-1896, to create a number of chromolithographic sheet music covers. Paull had been using the A. Hoen firm in Richmond, Virginia, but for a while also tried out several New York City artists such as Rosenthal and Bert Cobb. Joseph's covers rivaled those of Hoen very nicely, yet provided a clear contrast to the more established Virginia firm. Hoen tended to take up most of the page with a framed image, while Joseph often made the subject of the picture the centerpiece, allowing for more white space on the page. His use of coloring was equally effective and both natural and vivid at the same time, often with stunning results. His occasional caricatures where less comical and more whimsical, and therefore much more respectful to African-Americans than was typical during the late 1890s.
It is not clear how the relationship between Paull and Rosenthal ended, but no further covers of his appeared under the Paull label after 1900, and one of his chromolithographs was copied by Hoen for a reprint of A Warmin' Up in Dixie. Still, Joseph had other work with music publishers dating back to 1887, including M. Witmark, Howley, Haviland & Company and The United States Publishing Company. While less colorful, owing to those publishers typically spending less on the artwork, those covers are equally striking in their simplicity. It is notable that he even advertised on the non-Paull publications, including his Pearl Street address after his signature. The location was also associated with the Metropolitan Engraving Company both before and after the 1890s, but whether it was his company is unclear. One source shows it as having dissolved in 1892, but advertisements from 1896 and later plus a New York Times article from 1905 all mention his business at that same address.
There were few music sheets after 1900, but Rosenthal did turn to both commercial and commissioned art, with his work appearing in magazines, newspapers, books and posters for such concerns as Broadway theaters. Business was fairly good, however, and by 1910 he and the family were living at 1097 Park Place in Brooklyn, employing three servants. He was listed in that census as an artist in the business of "lithographing." Around this time he moved his office to midtown, the center of the publishing and music world. From his new location occupying the fourth floor at 413 Broadway, Rosenthal reached out through advertising. One 1912 ad read:
ad for rosenthal studio
Two copyrights for the Mayfair Novelty Company from that time indicate that Joseph was also serious about fine art as well. One from 1918 was the topical A Dying Soldier's Vision, and another from 1919 was a typical still-life, Fruits and Flowers.
As of 1917 the company was truly a family business. Herman was working as a bookkeeper and lithographer, according to his draft record. The 1920 census listed Joseph as a lithographer, and both Leonel and Herman working in the same capacity, with Helen as their secretary. Joseph's brother-in-law Victor Oldman was working as a collector for the firm. Ads in the trades and directory listings throughout the 1920s indicate that the firm was still active and viable.
For the 1930 census, Joseph, now 70, was still listed as a lithographer, Herman as a lithography artist, and Leonel as a prover, a quality control role in the process. By now the family had moved to 2705 Avenue J in Brooklyn. The last listing seen for the firm was in the 1933 directory, still at the Broadway address. Joseph died two years later at age 75, leaving his business to his sons, and his colorful legacy for the rest of us.

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Edgar Keller edgar keller signature
Edgar M. Keller portrait not available
Edgar M. Keller
(September 12, 1867 to January 10, 1932)
Selected Covers (Hover to View)    
One of the more consistent and important artists of sheet music during the ragtime era was Edgar M. Keller, whose work spread well beyond the world of New York music publishing. He was born far away from the city at a time prior to the nascent field of dynamic cover illustrations. Edgar was the fifth of six children born to Prussian immigrant Henry Keller and his Irish-born wife Mary Margaret Kenny in Crescent (now Crescent City), Del Norte County, on the California coast line just south of Oregon. His siblings included George Martin (1859), William Arthur (1861), Joseph F. (1864), Laura (1865) and Mary Margaret (1870). The 1870 and 1880 enumerations taken in Crescent showed Henry to be a shoemaker and bootmaker respectively.
edgar keller sheet music covers
Edgar's mother, Mary Margaret, died in 1871, leaving Henry to raise his children alone. Laura died in 1875 at age 10, and young Mary may have been sent to reside with relatives as she did not appear in the 1880 record.
Given the lack of an 1890 census, it is unclear what Edgar may have been doing in his early twenties, but there is a good chance that he studied art and lithography with one or professionals during that period, even while still living in California. Keller moved to New York City in the late 1890s. While later one-paragraph biographies stated that he "turned to art in 1907," the 1900 enumeration both belies that and potentially explains his training through immersion. He was living in Manhattan with his bride, Nell Adams Clark, whom he had married in 1897, and was clearly listed as an artist. In that same building at 939 Eighth Avenue near the intersection of 56th Street, there were several artists residing there as well, consituting an artist's colony of sorts. It was also a mere two blocks away from the Art Students League of New York, which had been founded in 1875. So it is clear that Edgar was immersed in the artist's culture of New York, and Nell possibly went along for the ride, as she eventually took the craft up as well.
Edgar became versed in several different mediums, including etching, sculpting, oil and watercolor, and illustration. While in training to create his own style, and before he was widely exhibited, he went into the field of both book and sheet music illustration to provide a revenue stream. Some of his earliest work appeared in 1899 and 1900 for a couple of publishers, including Harry Von Tilzer. Then from mid-1900 forward Keller was employed by M. Witmark & Sons publications, and his fame spread from there. The Music Trade Review of July 6, 1901 notes that "Edgar Keller is permanently employed by [Witmark] and puts in his best work in this line." He would do cover work for Witmark more or less exclusively over the next decade. At 42 years of age, Edgar was profiled in the March 14, 1908, edition of the Music Trade Review:
When it is taken into consideration that M. Witmark & Sons publish a countless number of songs every year, and that of these some 90 per cent have color title pages, some idea may be gained of the amount of work which Edgar Keller accomplishes every twelve months. Yet he is never at a loss for an original idea. Year in and year out he has designed titles exclusively for Messrs. Witmark, who are always sure that Keller has something novel in reserve. Possessed of wonder natural talent, he has all the qualities which go to make the artist. His technical knowledge was acquired in the West, and the pride he takes in evolving some original form of lettering is only in line with his thoroughness in everything he attempts. Those of his numerous friends who visit his charming little studio uptown know that as a painter in oils he has done his best work. Personally he is a quiet reserved man with a high forehead and a finely cut boyish face. Very rare, indeed, does he express himself on any subject, but when he does offer an opinion it is always well worth listening to.
In addition to his work in sheet music, Keller illustrated some children's books, and created art and some verse for the New York Dramatic Mirror, an entertainment-related newspaper. By the early 1910s, if not earlier, both his oil landscapes and portraits were enjoying exhibitions in galleries and other places of prominence. Edgar managed to capture motion and light effectively, sometimes using very rough brush strokes, evoking more of a mood or ambience than realistically accurate renditions of his subjects. Although his music and magazine illustrations did not always have the same depth as his oils, they were still varied and appealing, usually including customized text that complemented the subject.
It appears that with his growing reputation in oils and exhibitions and commissions, Edgar possibly found sheet music illustration either less appealing or too time consuming, and after 1911 he was more or less out of the field. There are some covers brought into question that show up into the late 1910s issued by publishers other than Witmark with the Keller name on them. Some were provided by the artist on rare occasions (such as Laddie Boy), but it is uncertain if he was responsible for a few of them lacking his first name. The most evident reason for the sudden halt of covers is that Edgar became involved with Bison Film Company under Thomas Ince around 1912, and given a role as a technical and artistic advisor on Westerns and Civil War films. He was also employed as a set designer or background scene painter, among other duties, for a couple of months. However, in short order Keller became an actor, ultimately appearing in around two dozen silent shorts and features from 1912 to 1926, much of it with director Francis Ford. Edgar even tried his hand at directing The Yellow Girl in 1916. This meant travel back west as well, and it is probable that the Kellers were in San Diego, California, during the mid-1910s, then in Los Angeles through 1917. However, by 1918, Edgar was re-established in Manhattan, where the 1920 enumeration showed him running his own art studio.
In 1921, Keller spent a great deal of time in the Binghamton, New York, area, creating landscapes. One of them titled "The Black Pearl" received honors and a prominent exhibit. It showed "a hole in the ice on the Chenango River with the dark outlines of Mount Prospect and buildings on the far bank of the river, all casting an iridescent glow into the pool of dark water." Edgar had reportedly driven by the area and found it to be interesting enough to drop anchor for a while. In the mid-1920s, Edgar and Nell relocated to northern California, then spent some time in Portland, Oregon, where they were located for the 1930 census, both of them now working as artists in their own studio.
What was not revealed in the 1930 record was that Edgar, now nearly 63, was ill. Although the nature of his malady was not made known, some indications from scant records imply that it was either cancer or heart disease. Later in 1930 the couple went down to Hollywood, California, possibly to gain some work with the motion picture trade. However, Edgar became increasingly ill, and finally passed on in early 1932 at 64 years of age. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. Nell survived him another 33 years, growing a reputation as a fine artist in her own right.

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Edward H. Pfeiffer pfeiffer signature
Edward H. Pfeiffer Portrait
Edward Henry Pfeiffer
(August, 1868 to February 15, 1932)
Selected Covers (Hover to View)    
Edward Pfeiffer was born in New York City in August, 1868 to a German immigrant father Henry Pfeiffer and New York native mother Mary York. Some sources indicate a birth year of 1869, but the 1870 and 1880 census records suggest the earlier year. Edward was familiar with art production at a young age since his father reportedly worked as a professional engraver, although Henry was listed also as a tailor. Edward had two older siblings, including Emily (1859) and Julius (1862). According to a brief biography assembled by his granddaughter, Ann M. Pfeiffer Latella, the young man showed a predilection and interest for art at an early age, probably due to Henry's creative influence. In the 1880 census the family is shown living in Manhattan with Henry working as a tailor and Emily as a dressmaker.
pfeiffer sheet music covers
Edward dabbled in costume jewelry design and some illustration work for publications such as magazines and newspapers, but is best known for his often stunning sheet music cover art, in part because his signature appears on it more often than the other works. At some point in his youth he suffered a leg injury that resulted in a lifelong limp, and the eventual onset of osteomyelitis that contributed to his death in 1932. His pain was such that he designed his own orthotic device to help him walk more comfortably. In the 1900 census, married by this time to Fannie McCracken, he was listed as a designer. Edward Pfeiffer Jr. (Ann Peiffer's father) was added to the family around 1901. Before 1910 Edward Sr. was showing up in Manhattan directories and, and ultimately in the 1910 census as an illustrator with his own studio. Fannie and Edward Jr. were still in the home, but she would soon leave and their son would be largely raised by his grandmother Mary.
Less known about Pfeiffer was his work as a community activist and writer. He contributed articles to various publications, usually about a cause. One example is Making Your Neighborhood Safe for Democracy 1919 edition of The Outlook. In his role as the Publicity Secretary for the Central Mercantile Association, he wrote about a boy's home in Chelsea, a community on the west side of Manhattan. Pfeiffer was also part of the Chelsea Fresh Air Society which secured "outings and vacations for the need poor of Chelsea District." His name was found on the boards of other charities as well. By 1920 Edward showed as divorced, but still working as a commercial artist. As of the early 1930s Edward was infirmed and in managed care where he eventually passed on in early 1932 at age 63.
Edward Pfeiffer's first covers date back to 1892, and his volume of work spans over 100 publishers, indicating that his reputation as a freelance artist was likely considerable. The Pfeiffer signature varied in scope from the simple EHP to Fifer to the official sounding Pfeiffer Illustrating Co. However, the majority of his works featured the unique E.H. Pfeiffer N.Y. script, which is as recognizable to collectors as the Disney signature is to children of all ages. While many of his works reflect some representation of the title of the piece they adorn, he was particularly gifted with drawing floral motifs and attractive women, exercising careful consideration for near-photo realistic shading. Pfeiffer was also an early advocate of what became the Art Deco school of art by the late 1920s. Of particular favorites listed here are the highly stylized Bantam Step and three different versions of Wild Cherries.

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André De Takacs detakacs signature
Andre De Takacs Portrait
Andréa Stephen Chevalier De Takacs
(June 15, 1880 to August 23, 1919)
Selected Covers (Hover to View)    
This unique illustrator and sometime composer was born in Hungary in 1880. His Hungarian father, Andrew De Takacs, who may also have been an artist, was a Hungarian Count. His mother was Helena Therese Chevalier (Bodnar) De Takacs. Andréa immigrated to America from Budapest, arriving June 11, 1901 on the Patricia from Hamburg, Germany. He soon became established as an artist in New York, although he had settled in nearby Hackensack, then Tenafly, New Jersey.
André, as he then referred to himself, started on a path that left a fascinating legacy of artwork,
de takacs sheet music covers
the majority of it on sheet music covers dating from 1906 to 1919. He is known to have illustrated at least two novels, and created some commercial art as well for both posters and postcards. André also wrote some poetry, and a few songs and song lyrics, for which he illustrated the covers, as might be expected. One was a poem My Sweetest Day, which was later set to music. He is mentioned in a few advertisements for publisher Jerome H. Remick, along with other fine composers associated with that firm.
Two of André's songs included Silent Wooing and When Bessie Met the Bobby of Her Dreams was dedicated to his wife, Elizabeth "Bessie" Schenkel of Tenafly, New Jersey. She also posed for the cover art. André married her on November 20, 1902, just 17 months after arriving in the United States. Bessie was the granddaughter of locally famous violinist Leonard Schenkel who owned the Schenkel Inn in Tenafly, which her parents later ran as the Clinton Inn. She was used as a model for his covers from time to time. In a historical book on Tenafly by Eva Browning Sisson, she recounts the day that the electric trolley line first ran there in 1907. André was present at the inn which held a dinner in honor of the event, and he quickly sketched a drawing of the trolley and surrounding area, which was auctioned off for $20 to benefit the local fire department.
The De Takacs and Schenkel families moved over the next couple of years, and are shown in the 1910 census living with their two daughters Edythe H. (1905) and Bessie Elizabeth (1906), along with Bessie's recently widowed mother and her siblings in Palisades, New Jersey.
André (left) with Elizabeth and her brother around 1905.
andre detakacs with his wife and her brother
Although André contracted to a wide variety of publishers, a large volume of his work was featured on compositions published by the Jerome Remick Publishing Company and F.A. Mills. One piece about an elderly couple featured a drawing of the same on the cover, possibly André's parents, since the old man looks somewhat like André.
There are indications that André may have been involved in the New York motion picture industry, perhaps as a set or art designer. He was known to have worked for Universal Film Company (predecessor to Universal Pictures) from 1916 to 1918. He lists them on his September 1918 draft record, indicating that he was working as an artist. During this period André would also refer to himself as "count" at least once in one novel that he illustrated. His unusual signature was modified several times during his career.
André De Takacs died suddenly on August 23, 1919 at the age of 39, his sad demise reportedly the result of a heart attack in a New York City taxicab en route to a hospital. The funeral notice in the New York Herald had an open invitation to "Members of the American Motion Picture Association" to attend. Bessie worked for several years as a telephone operator but had some financial troubles throughout the next several years. She followed André in 1927 by her own hand, committing suicide by ingesting mercury. Both are buried in Englewood, New Jersey. Their daughter Edythe (De Takacs) Jepson became an artist in her own right, and was married to one as well, Paul Jepson. She lived into the 21st century, dying at age 101 in 2006.
De Takacs used lots of bold coloring in his work, such as in My Pony Boy, and was able to create both realistic images as well as pleasingly abstract ones. He was quite versatile with the "fade-away" technique, where the clothing or other portions of a subject is of the same color or pattern as the background, making the relevant portions stand out more while the rest of the figure fades into the background. View She Used to Be the Slowest Girl in Town and Somebody Else is Getting It for vivid examples of this technique.
Many thanks for additional information and verification go to Andrea Ellis who was named after her great grandfather, as well as Keith Emmons of HulaPages.Com. The last few years have been a voyage of discovery for her family as well in regards to André De Takacs' artistic legacy.

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Charles Etherington charles etherington signature
Charles A Etherington portrait not available
Charles Arthur Etherington
(October 27, 1880 to March, 1960)
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There are a group of signed artists in the sheet music world that, although they had a signature, they are considered to be "Mystery Illustrators" since virtually nothing is known about them outside of their printed artwork. Hopefully this entry will help to demystify to some degree the identity of the person behind the creative covers of the 1900s to 1920s drawn by the artist who signed them simply "Etherington." As with many such figures, information is scant, but it still gives a little more background than has previously been known on this illustrator.
Charles Arthur Etherington was born in late 1880 in Hartford, Connecticut to machinist Charles Allison Etherington and his bride Carrie Cooper of Springfield, Massachusetts. He would soon be joined by one sibling, Howard W., in January of 1882. By that time, the elder Charles was listed in Hartford directories as an engraver at a printing company, and would soon be considered an artist.
etherington sheet music covers
It is not clear what happened to Carrie, but by 1890 she was no longer in the household due to death or divorce, and Charles was remarried to his second wife Abbie. Directories from 1889 to 1898 showed him working for the Calhoun Printing Company as an artist or engraver. Starting in 1897, the younger Charles was shown working as a clerk for the Pope Manufacturing Company company, primarily a bicycle builder at that time. The 1900 enumeration showed the senior Charles still listed as an artist, albeit independent now, and the younger one, most often listed as C. Arthur Etherington, as a bookkeeper.
At some point during the next few years C. Arthur went into the family business of art and engraving, possibly trained by his father among others. Around 1905 he migrated to New York City, and his talent soon got him work in advertising and the recently burgeoning field of sheet music covers. His first work was likely as an independent contractor, providing art for the music publishing houses of Gus Edwards and Harry Von Tilzer in 1906 and 1907. However, by 1908 his client base had expanded. By then he was working for the printing firm of Teller, Sons & Dorner. Etherington's work was well-regarded, and a 1908 ad in the Music Trade Review placed by music publisher Theo. Bendix touted him as part of a talented pool of composers, lyricists and artists. In addition to Edwards and Von Tilzer, he was also providing work for Joseph Morris, F.B. Haviland, Joseph W. Stern and Ted Snyder. A March 14, 1908, article in the Music Trade Review by fellow artist Gene Buck on the "Evolution of the Title Page" mentioned Charles in passing, putting him in good company:
Let it not be supposed that the artist alone is responsible for the vast improvement which is apparent in the production of the modern title page. I think that I am safe in saying that ten years ago Edgar Keller was just as talented an artist as he is to-day—not as finished perhaps—but the wonderful creative genius which he has displayed for years in designing the Witmark title pages must have been just as apparent a decade ago. Again, take [William and Frederick] Starmer, [Charles] Etherington and [John] Frew, who like myself are "free lances," designing for anybody who wishes to engage our services; their versatility has surely not come to light in a day. The question is naturally asked them, "to what source is due the marvelous artistic strides made in the modern title page?" and the answer lies in the fact that the credit is largely due to the improvement in mechanical production.
Given the often challenging nature of multi-color lithography, it was likely a double-edged sword that newer methods eschewing the old lithography stones both made the cover artists' work easier, while at the same time offering new opportunities for artists with less skill in these methods to enter the field. With perhaps 12 primary and another dozen or more secondary artists working in New York City music publishing by 1910, the roster was not exactly crowded, which helped Etherington and his handful of peers to stand out. He was certainly prolific, turning out forty or more covers a year from 1908 to 1911. And then, the flow stopped abruptly.
Charles had married Louise Filler in 1906 in Manhattan, her second marriage to his first. Eight years his senior, her reported age changed several times over the next two decades, including when she was wed to Charles. The 1910 census, taken in Manhattan, showed that she had lost all six of her children, likely in infancy or at birth. That same record showed Charles as a lithographer and artist. Yet within two years, his prolific flow of sheet music covers would all but stop. There is no clear reason for this, but perhaps he decided to focus on advertising art or book illustration, or even magazines. The 1915 New York census still showed him as working in art and lithography, and his 1918 draft record listed him in the same field, working for what looks like the Alphw Lithography Company on 9th Avenue. It also described the artist as being 6'2" with black hair. By 1920 the couple had temporarily relocated to Cleveland, Ohio, residing with Dr. Alfred Bailey and his wife, who may have been a relation of some sort. Again, Charles showed his occupation as commerical artist for the enumeration, but pinning down his extant work from this period was difficult.
The Etheringtons were back in New York fairly soon, found living in Nassau on Long Island in 1920s directories and the 1925 New York State census. However, at some point prior to 1930, they had relocated to Chicago, Illinois, found there at the start of the Great Depression. From this point on there is largely speculation as to where his life went. The Depression was hard on many artists, with only a few of the best surviving. It appears that during this time Louise dropped out of the picture, either due to death or divorce, and Charles moved to Lyndhurst, Ohio, to reside with his brother Howard, who was working as a trash collector. While he was not found in the 1940 census, he was noted in a couple of mentions in newspapers as working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's largest New Deal programs, as an art supervisor. Charles' 1942 draft record showed him as having a crippled right arm, the cause of which was not known, but which may have inhibited his direct work in art over the prior decade, thus his WPA role. After World War II, Etherington relocated to Miami, Florida, where he died in March of 1960 at age 79.
On his sheet music covers, Etherington showed versatility and consistency, but not all that much uniqueness in comparison to some of his peers. The work was solid, and encompassed several different styles during his six year run, using a palette of two to three colors for the most part. His human figures were well-rendered, particularly on sentimental pieces, but lacked whimsy in some cases. Overall, C.A. Etherington was a capable and prolific artist with solid skills, and should be regarded as one of the major contributors to the look of sheet music, part of the appeal that led to sales, during the middle of the ragtime era.

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Gene Buck gene buck signature
Gene Buck Portrait
Edward Eugene "Gene" Buck
(August 8, 1884 to February 24, 1957)
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Eugene Buck (possibly Jean in his early years) was born in 1884 in Detroit, Michigan to George Buck and Catherine McCarthy. He had two other brothers, including Charles A. (7/18/1883) and George W. (1889). Gene was, as some have called it, a triple or quadruple threat, known nearly as well as a musician, lyricist, composer and producer as he was for his cover art contributions.
Eugene's father was an inventor, but he died when the boy was around nine years old, leaving his family nearly destitute. Catherine managed to keep them in a home in Detroit and made sure her sons got a proper education in a parochial school, and two years at a Jesuit college for Gene.
gene buck sheet music covers
Out of that college at age 18, Gene got a job working for two dollars per week at the Dime Savings Bank, a career in which he proved to be totally unsuitable. Using the funds he earned at the bank, Gene obtained formal training at the Detroit Art Academy, focusing on Art Noveau. Buck was soon employed by a stationery manufacturing firm designing covers and borders. This company was responsible for the bulk of the sheet music covers used by Whitney Warner music in Detroit. Buck insisted that they could do better, and started producing multi-colored illustrated covers for the firm, and the trend was soon copied by many Midwest publishers. Among his first releases were My Creole Belle and Hiawatha. When Jerome H. Remick bought the firm he hired Gene as a staff artist. Evolving from his initial training he became adept at Art Deco even before it had recognized as an independent style.
In early 1907 Gene temporarily lost his sight due to ulcers on his retinas, and was unable to work for several months. After three to four months his sight returned sufficiently enough for him to continue. He relocated to New York City, arriving with only $13.50 in his pocket and no firm position. It did not take him long to find work again as a free-lance cover artist, even making more contributions to his old employer. Gene took a studio next door to artist James Montgomery Flagg, who would soon be famous for the Uncle Sam "I Want You" poster. In addition to covers and paintings he started writing jokes and verses for comic weeklies. The bulk of his 5000 cover illustrations range from 1904 to 1914, a time when he started experiencing more permanent vision problems, making any continuation of drawing difficult at best. The 1910 census shows him in Manhattan as a "designer" in the music field, but he was starting a career transition.
Starting in 1910 Buck tried his hand at composing. Many of his earliest songs contributions were as a lyricist to the music of Dave Stamper, the accompanist at that time for Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth, appear on a series of Edison Diamond Discs from the early to mid-1910s. Gene was quite active in the New York music scene and mingled with stars of stage and screen. In 1912 he was engaged by Oscar Hammerstein to do set designs for singer Lillian Lorraine, and also directed her act, which included his co-composition Daddy Has a Sweetheart and Mother is Her Name. Originally intended for her performance in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1911, the song was rejected as the wrong material for Miss Lorraine. She left the Follies a few weeks later, and Hammerstein engaged her as well as Gene to help with her appearances in his show. Lorraine and the song subsequently became a hit, as did the follow-up, Some Boy. Gene also wrote with composers Victor Herbert and Rudolph Friml. He was also one of the founding members of ASCAP in 1914.
Buck spent nearly seventeen years in the employ of Florenz Ziegfeld contributing compositions and set design for the famous Ziegfeld Follies, and even doing some directing as well. His 1918 draft registration showed him as a playwright with Ziegfeld working at the New Amsterdam Theatre. As Ziegfeld's male talent scout he was responsible for either discovering or engaging the services of stars such as Ed Wynn, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, W.C. Fields and artist Joe Frisco. He was said to be most proud of acquiring set designer Josef Urban, a European who had been stranded when his company folded. Even though he had no English skills when hired, he became an instrumental member of the Follies, helping design and build many stunning sets. He even decorated the Buck's home in Great Neck. Gene was also responsible for originating the combination restaurant and show on the roof of the New Amsterdam, which became known as the Midnight Frolics, ultimately producing 17 editions of the revue. In 1917 he co-wrote the show Zig Zag for the London Hippodrome. In early October of 1919, Gene married actress Helen Falconer, with whom he would remain for life.
Buck continued composing into the 1920s and was the President of ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers) from 1924 to 1941, playing a large role in the licensed use of music on radio. He also was known to have kept some black composers from direct involvement in ASCAP, and was admittedly surprised to find that there were objections to this mode of thinking. Buck helped ASCAP to win a major music protection case in front of the Supreme Court in 1931. During much of this time the Buck family lived in Kensington, Nassau County, New York, then in Great Neck on Long Island. The 1930 census showed Gene, his wife Helen, and their two sons, Eugene Falconer "Gene" (1/1925) and George William (12/1925), in Kensington, with Gene listed as a theatrical producer. Also in the house were his younger brother George, and Helen's two sisters.
In 1936 Gene and ASCAP were up in arms about proposed changes to 1909 copyright laws which, in his words, would legalize music piracy by broadcasters, hotel operators and the film industry. He already had offered some choice words for radio, saying that it could "kill a popular song" in just six weeks. The lobby behind the Duffy bill called ASCAP a group of "racketeers." At issue was the removal of a damage clause and limit royalties to songwriters. Buck was passionate to the cause, introducing some of the "racketeers" at a press conference, including George Gershwin, Rudy Vallee and Ethelbert Nevin. He was further supported Deems Taylor and Oley Speaks, and publishers Carl Fischer, G. Schirmer and Irving Berlin. Florida and Washington state laws were used as a challenge to the ASCAP case, stating that the licensing was illegal. This contest ultimately went through several appeals to the Supreme Court in 1939, and ASCAP prevailed for the moment. This was followed by a challenged from N.A.B., the National Association of Broadcasters, one of the original sponsors of the Duffy bill. The Buck family was seen on a cruise passenger list in 1936 sailing from San Francisco through the Panama Canal. He was also heavily involved in ASCAP 25th anniversary concerts at two World's Fair locations in both New York and San Francisco in 1940. For the enumeration that same year taken in Kensington, he listed himself as an author. His brother George and sisters-in-law were still lodging with the family as well.
Buck tried to buck BMI and their licensing practices in front of Congress in 1940 and 1941. On February 22, 1940, while vacationing in Phoenix, Arizona, he was arrested on a Montana warrant that charged attempted extortion. This came from the demand by Buck and ASCAP that certain radio stations pay fees for the use of music over which the organization claimed control. He claimed that the arrest was part of a "smearing campaign," thus the arrest on a Federal holiday, and was released on $10,000 bond. The suit brought by the state's attorney in Montana alleged that ASCAP was threatening to the licenses of radio stations and theaters that were not making substantial payments for those licenses. In turn, ASCAP was fined by the courts for $35,250. While the overall charges were later reduced, when ASCAP was threatened with litigation claiming them to be a monopoly in 1941, Gene consented to a compromise, and then stepped down from his leadership role in early 1942 after seventeen years.
In spite of the occasional negative press, Buck was later remembered in his ASCAP role as "the greatest exterminator of piracy since Decatur," referring to the famed 19th Century naval officer Stephen Decatur. In 1940 he received the Henry Hadley Medal from the National Association of American Composers and Conductors for his efforts in advancing and protecting American music. He also became the president of the Catholic Actors Guild, a position he held through the end of his life. He was also a lifelong member of the board of directors of ASCAP. In his long career Gene was reported have had done as many as 5000 covers, although this includes arranging photographic as well as text-based covers. He also contributed to over 500 songs. Gene died in Great Neck in February 1957 after an illness of two weeks. His funeral rites were presided over by former president Herbert Hoover.
Notable in Buck's style is the use of minimal color palettes, often leaving many elements of the cover clear or showing a single color that would define the cover. The people were consistently drawn with succinct expressions, and the artistic elements when they appeared were well-defined although simply colored and logically patterned. Many of his covers do not bear his signature, but his distinct lettering technique on the Remick issues certainly help give them away.

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Joseph Hirt joseph hirt signature
Joseph Hirt Portrait not available
Joseph Hirt
(September 5, 1879 to April 18, 1943)
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Joseph Hirt was one of those singularly talented "company men" who while working for other lithographers managed to have his work signed, an honor most often reserved for top artists in a firm. Beyond that, virtually nothing was known of him before the research on this article, and even that yielded few clues on this illustrator who still managed to leave his mark on a few landmark covers, and likely on many more that remain uncredited.
Joseph was born in New York City in 1879 to German immigrant tailor Julius Hirt and his Prussian/German bride Dorothea "Dora" Rogowski.
hirt sheet music covers
The couple had ten other children besides Joseph, including Frederick (3/11/1870) and Bertha (9/15/1872), both born in Prussia, Lena (2/1875), Adolph (1/1877), Minnie (1/1883), Clara (3/10/1885), David (7/1887), and Elsie (11/21/1889). Two of the siblings did not survive to adulthood.
While no knowledge remains about Joseph's upbringing or training, by the time he was 20 in the 1900 census he listed his career as a pen and ink artist, making it likely that he had either apprenticed or taken classes at an art school. It was over the following decade that Hirt did some of his most lasting and recognizable works for at least two different lithography firms, including Teller, Dorner & Company, and several publishers. Three standouts are the highly recognizable Red Wing, a companion piece titled Sun Bird, and the less well-known but equally stunning Lucia, all of them a tour de force in multiple colors. Very few lithographers created covers of more than two colors plus black, with the exception of the A. Hoen firm who routinely turned out four color prints for composer/publisher E.T. Paull. So the Hirt works do stand out, and in some ways are equal to the Hoen covers. Another of his most widely circulated works was Take Me Out to the Ball Game.
In June of 1906, Joseph was married to Adelaide Walsh in Manhattan. For the 1910 enumeration he was shown as still living with some of his siblings and his widowed mother. As it turns out, sadly, he was also widowed, Adelaide having died in March of 1908. The family had moved from lower Manhattan to near Harlem, living at 234 W. 120th Street, and Joseph was listed simply as an artist. The bulk of his cover art, which first appeared in 1901, was done between 1904 and 1911. There were perhaps over 200 completed in that time, with only a few remaining examples appearing between 1912 and 1917. Around 1912 Joseph went into commercial art, working for a few years at Universal Art Service at 1531 Broadway, doing advertising and theater posters. He also married again in November of 1911, this time to Florence Baumann. By 1918 he had become a manager at one of the largest New York firms, Morgan Lithography Company at 1600 Broadway. For both his September 12, 1918, draft record and the January, 1920, census, Joseph listed his address as 56 Manhattan Avenue, one block off from Central Park West at 103rd Street, indicating a positive change in fortune. However, the draft card nearest relative contact was his mother, suggesting that his second marriage had ended in divorce. Joseph had switched positions again by 1920, working now as a commercial artist in the film industry. The January 1920 showed that he was residing with his sisters Clara and Elsie.
Now no longer involved in the music business, Joseph stayed with commercial art into the early 1930s. He was married a third time around 1921 to Evelyn Ruth Bond, nearly 20 years his junior, and they had two sons, Joel (1922) and Everett Quincy (1923). In the 1930 census Joseph was listed once more as a manager for a commercial art firm. Joseph, or perhaps Evelyn, also fudged his age to the enumerator by five years in that record. As many positions in advertising evaporated during the Great Depression, Hirt, possibly either retired or downsized, switched to the canvas, and became a fairly reputable painter. Some of his oils are still in circulation in collections decades later. In the 1940 enumeration taken in Queens he listed himself as a commercial artist, even though his output in that realm had diminished. His age listed on that record was 50, a full decade off the mark. On his 1942 draft record, this time showing a somewhat more accurate birth year of 1881, he was listed as a self-employed painter having moved back to Manhattan, living at 1322 6th Avenue. Joseph Hirt died a year later of a stroke at age 63, and was interred at Pinelawn Cemetery in Queens. He was survived by his wife Evelyn and thei two sons, also leaving behind an artistic legacy across several different mediums.

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Nelson Guy Chilberg n g chilberg signature
Nelson G. Chilberg Portrait not available
Nelson Guy Chilberg
(April 25, 1875 to August 5, 1912)
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Nelson Guy Chilberg had a short but fruitful career as a cover artist, but did little of note that put him into the public eye, so it was difficult to obtain much useful information on his overall life. He was born in Cambridge, Illinois, in the western part of the state near Moline, in April of 1875 to Swedish immigrant Sven Jacob Kihlberg (the original family name) and his Pennsylvania-born wife Margaret R. "Maggie" Lafferty, and had been preceded by an older sister, Mattie Pearl (1872). The 1880 enumeration taken in Cambridge showed Sven to be a clerk in a dime goods store.
chilberg sheet music covers
By this time the family had followed the pattern of most Kihlbergs who had immigrated to the United States, and changed the spelling to Chilberg to align with the pronunciation.
No information was found on Nelson's schooling, but as with many young men who had an artistic bent, it probably included some courses in drawing and drafting, leaving him equipped to be an illustrator or work in a graphics art firm, many of which covered disciplines from architectural blueprints and renderings to advertising for newspapers and magazines. After his schooling he relocated east to Chicago, Illinois, where there would be any opportunities for work. Among the first drawings Nelson did that were published were some for a book of verse by The Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum titled By the Candelabra's Glare, which predated his more famous work by two years, published in 1898. His illustrations were mixed in with some by other notable artists, including Frank Hasenplug, C.J. Costello, and future Oz artist W. W. Denslow. The 1900 enumeration taken in the Hyde Park area of Chicago showed Chilberg to be a draughtsman. He was married to Mabel L. Lewis on February 21, 1901, and their son Guy Lewis was born on July 8, 1906. His sister, Mattie, had died relatively young in October of 1905.
Little of Nelson's work was attributed over the next few years from 1900 to 1905, so probably involved unsigned advertising or commercial projects as per his employer. However, in 1906 he was most likely contracted through his firm to do a cover for a piece of music, A Jolly Old Ride in a Glide, that advertised the Glide automobile manufactured by the Bartholomew Company in Peoria, Illinois. This is the only sheet of Chilberg's found that had a Peoria imprint on it, so was likely produced and printed in Chicago. It seems likely that this either gave Chilberg the initiative to pursue more cover art, or at least got him noticed by other publishers. The majority of known sheet music cover artists at that time were in the New York area, with just a handful in Chicago. The ability to thematically represent a piece of music in a single picture was a desirable commodity in the industry, since in lieu of phonograph recordings or piano rolls, the song demonstrators and tasteful or relevant covers were the best form of advertising.
For the next several years, while still in the employ of another company, Chilberg provided cover art with increasing frequency to Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri area publishers, including Joseph Flanner of Milwaukee and F.J.A. Forster in Chicago, and surprisingly, given the distance, Charles L. Johnson and Jenkins' Sons Music in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition, he also scored a few covers for New York and Detroit publisher Jerome H. Remick. While Nelson was not terribly prolific in this field, he did create some significant images, all with a fancified N followed by a simple G. Chilberg. Most of them had clear focus, with the title an almost separate entity from the descriptive picture. No matter if they were two, three or four-color images, all had an element of realism, and many of beauty. He was particularly good with crowd scenes and intimate moments. Some of his most colorful works remains Glad Smiles from 1909. The 1910 census showed Nelson working as an artist for a novelty company, which may still have been related to advertising and posters.
Work in the music field started to pick up for Chilberg in the early 1910s, with Forster issuing the most music sporting his images. However, for reasons that were not readily available in the research, he died in Chicago at age 37 on August 8, 1912, leaving behind his wife and son, and a potentially increasing number of memorable sheet music images that would have helped to define the end of the ragtime era and the beginning of the jazz age. He is interred in Cambridge with his parents.

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H.C. Henrich harrison henrich signature
H.C. Henrich portrait not available
Harrison Crockett Henrich
(August 4, 1877 to May 9, 1944)
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Although New York seemed to dominate the illustated sheet music cover world with its core of talented artists, Chicago had several fine contenders who did laudable work and even beyond. This particular artist, known mostly by his last name of Henrich, actually lived a much separate life after spending a decade in the world of music covers, but left his imprint behind in many Midwest publications. Those who know of his later work may have had no idea about this facet of his career, and the reverse is also true.
Harrison Henrich was born in 1875 in South Bend, Indiana, to store clerk Michael Henrich, a German immigrant who had been "born at sea," and his Indiana native wife, Mary Minerva Crockett. One other child was born to the couple in 1879, Bessie Irene, but she died at age five.
Henrich sheet music covers
The 1880 enumeration revealed little about the family. At some point over the next decade or so, they relocated west to Chicago, Illinois, where Michael became a dry goods salesman, and Harrison attended art school, possibly with a short stay in Europe as well.
The 1900 census listed Harrison (going by Harry) as a cartoonist, and by that time he had already done a few sheet music covers, one of them a stereotyped coon song illustration that could fall into the cartoon category. There was nothing solid found to indicate that he was also drawing cartoons for a newspaper or magazine, but that is likely as some satirical cartoons from that era are still extant. Until late 1908, Henrich provided covers for the major Chicago publishers, as well as for Kansas City composer/publisher Charles L. Johnson. His work shows up primarily on works issued by Victor Kremer, Arnett Delonais and F.J.A. Forster. In 1903 Henrich formed his own small corporation with an office in downtown Chicago. By 1907 he was working from the famed Auditorium Building on Michigan Avenue in the tower section, with a shared studio space on the eleventh floor occupied by other Chicago artists. In addition to his sheet music and cartooning, Harrison had been gaining fame even beyond Illinois for his fine oil portraits, most of them of the society women of Chicago, such as Mrs. Marshall Fields, wife of the department store magnate. Eventually, one of his subjects either caught his eye or he caught hers, and it changed his direction markedly.
According to at least some mentions from around 1909, but difficult to confirm, Henrich had a studio of some kind in Vienna, Austria. It was either there, or in Chicago that he met Carolyn Harbaugh Turner. She had recently been widowed by her wealthy husband, three decades her senior, and Harrison, nearly a decade younger than she, painted her portrait. Then he found himself staying in Los Angeles near her home in early 1909, and on March 8 eloped with his rich paramour to the south in San Diego. According to the Los Angeles Herald of March 9, 1909:
Claiming the woman who was his "artistic ideal" as his bride, Harrison Crockett Henrich, artist and portrayer of beautiful women, this afternoon wedded Mrs. Carolyn Harbaugh Turner, wealthy widow of Los Angeles… It was to avoid the formalities of a wedding befitting the station of the bride that the trip to San Diego was made and the wedding quietly celebrated. The bride is the widow of the late W. W. D. Turner, known as the Leroi mine king, and beside her handsome home in Chester place, she inherited a fortune estimated at from $3,000,000 to $6,000,000. The groom, it is said, is also possessed of means. The couple will reside in Vienna, where Henrich has his studio, and pass their winters In Los Angeles.
Overcome by a feeling of bashfulness, Henrich left his suit cases and baggage in the room he had been occupying at the Hotel Lankershim in Los Angeles and took out enough wearing apparel in his portfolio to supply his needs while on his wedding trip. At the hotel it is said that he kept constant watch on the elevator, waiting for an opportunity to get out unseen. It was a matter of general comment around the hotel that he was about to wed Mrs. Turner and it is presumed that he feared to pass through the lobby with his baggage, which would indicate that he was intending a trip for some mysterious purpose…
Having abandoned the chilly Midwest for sunny California, one of Harrison's first project was to capture "Types of American Beauties," specifically California Girls, in a series of sepia drawings, which were subsequently exhibited and published in book form before the end of the year.
A 1920s portrait of a Native American
harrison henrich's portrait of a native american
Such was the high regard of his work and spreading fame that when he announced a visit to San Francisco in the summer of 1910, speculation was in the air about whether he might stay there for a while, as noted in the San Francisco Call of July 17:
Harrison Henrich, the Chicago sepia portrait painter, whose studies of Mrs. Marshall Field and other prominent Chicago and New York women have justly brought him no little fame, is at present in Los Angeles and will shortly leave for this city, where he will stay for a few months, and may possibly eventually open a studio. Henrich's work is already well known locally and in the southern part of the state, as he has done work for many well known Californians. His forte is portrait painting, although in eastern circles he is almost as well known for other studies. During his stay here he will in all probability hold a comprehensive exhibition of his portrait work at one of the local galleries.
In the end, Harrison remained in Los Angeles for pretty much the remainder of his life. The 1910 census showed him as a portrait artist, and there were some exhibitions of his portraiture in both Los Angeles and New York over the next decade. However, he also seemed to embrace the collective financial status of both himself and Carolyn, and curiously, for the final 1918 draft call in September, listed himself as a rancher of all things. Just the same, he was hardly done with his notable work. A profile of the artist was included in the long-running Overland Monthly in their May, 1919 edition:
HARRISON CROCKETT HENRICH, the noted artist of Chicago, New York and Paris [!]… is a disciple of Sepia Art. Every touch Henrich lays on canvas is unerringly drawn, every thought he conceives is beautiful. The result is that he gives us some of the most delicate types of American beauty that have yet been produced…
There is an individuality about Henrich's work that is most appealing, it is so human. He knows how to place his forms correctly and he uses light and shade tenderly. The art-gift is an inherent quality awaiting the time for expression and development… If the house he builds is a house of cards you know it. But if it be hewn out of stone and enduringly put together, you know that the builder was a master of his craft.
… Ruskin tells us that "Greek Art and all other art is fine when it makes a man's face as like a man's face as it can." This is a distinctive quality in Henrich's drawings of women. He believes that all human faces should be made as like human faces as it is possible to make them. He has a tremendous energy for work and he follows out his ideals with infinite patience. His hand is strong and firm and he keeps it under absolute control so that at all times it can move with serenity and ease…
The 1920 enumeration had his occupation once again as an artist. Carolyn had generously reduced her age by a full decade to match her younger husband's 45. In addition, Harrison's parents were now residing with the couple, but both of them would die within weeks of each other before the year was out.
Harrison Henrich's painting of Jesus
harrison henrich's painting of jesus christ
Over the next decade Henrich produced some fine landscapes of the California and Arizona deserts, and stunning paintings of Native Americans in those settings, as well as some further north in California and Oregon. It was one painting in particular that brought him a great deal of acclaim. It was a portrait of Jesus Christ with a halo of light around his head that was widely exhibited, including at two or more world's fairs, and a century later is still in use by the Church of Latter Day Saints. The 1930 census showed him to be an independent artist, still at work in his fifties, although he claimed to be just 51, and Carolyn 50, a full 15 years off the mark. She would die at the end of 1933 at age 68. It appears that very little work, if any, was produced by Harrison after this time. The 1940 enumeration showed him lodging in the home of Alma Norris, but with no occupation. Harrison Henrich died on May 9, 1944, 35 years and one day after his marriage to Carolyn. They are both interred at Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood, California.
Henrich's cover art clearly showed range and character, and some of his work clearly eclipsed that of his New York colleagues. In particular, his covers for Arnett Delonai were rich and colorful, given that the publisher was able to invest in four-color printing. One of his standouts in that regard was Fun Bob by Percy Wenrich, showing a jubilant child in a grape orchard. Indi-Ana is also stunning, with a cutout portrait of a Native American girl against a white background, both poignant and slightly sad. His caricatures of black subjects, such as Topsy and Trixy, and the highly-detailed Watermelon Trust, were less caricature (common for the time) and more about capturing the mood of those depicted. There were also some interesting variations, such as his use of pastel crayons for the cover of Sunshine, or the simple pencil sketch of Sweethearts. Among the details are his realistic use of light and shadow, which is not always present on music covers, considered by many to be outside of the realm of fine art. And yet Henrich's signature usually indicated exactly that - fine art. While not everybody may look for or see his distinctive split signature, his work still gets notice, and even more than a century later is worth a long look than most other covers, a fine legacy to have left for the world.

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Walter J. Dittmar dittmar signature
Walter J. Dittmar Portrait
Walter John Dittmar
(February 7, 1879 to October 23, 1964)
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Signing always as W.J. Dittmar, Walter Dittmar was born in 1879 to German immigrant John Frederich Ferdinand Dittmar and his Pennsylvanian wife Mary Schanbacher in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of five surviving siblings, including Charles Frederick Elmer (1864), Emma A. (8/1866), William (3/1870) and Oliver Ferdinand (6/9/1872). The future artist was a life-long resident of Williamsport. Walter received no formal artistic training other than what was taught in high school, although his father was a woodcarver, which requires some level of artisan skill. In his late teens he was employed as a freelance illustrator with the Grit Publishing Company in Williamsport.
dittmar sheet music covers
In the 1899 and 1900 Williamsport directories, Walter and Emma were listed as artists, with William, Oliver and Ferdinand listed as proprietors of the Dittmar Furniture Manufacturing Company. For the 1900 enumeration Walter was listed as an illustrator, Emma as an artist, and Ferdinand, Elmer and William as carvers.
On April 15, 1903, Walter was married to Daisy Irene Scudder at her parent's home in Williamsport. From 1904-1914 or so Dittmar was the primary artist for the amazingly prolific Vandersloot Music Company. His covers adorned more than 100 music sheets published by the Williamsport company. Walter's parents were charter members of the First United Evangelical Church in Williamsport, and his brother William was a church worker who was in the choir and taught Sunday school. The family was heavily involved in Christian community, which brings up an enigma of sorts.
As was expected at that time, many of the rags and song publications from Vandersloot, as well as other publishers, were steeped in ethnic stereotype. So Dittmar could turn out a beautiful landscape for a sentimental piece one week, plus attractive drawings for the Herald, yet the next week produce some blatantly offensive images for rags that even included Nigger in the title. But accounting for the environment of that era (although not so much in rural Pennsylvania), work is work, and he did it well.
The 1910 census shows Dittmar as an independent artist with his own shop. Daisy had given him two children, Irene (1906) and John (10/1909). Irene's sister was living with the couple, and Walter's mother, sister, and brother William were residing next door. A few years later on his 1918 draft record, Walter's employer was shown as the local Herald Publishing House, which put out Christian materials. Little had changed by 1920 as the census showed that the Dittmar family seemed to all live in the same general block in Williamsport. Walter was still listed as an illustrator, although he eventually also taught art in the Williamsport school system from the 1920s to the 1940s. He further illustrated for a Williamsport-based monthly Christian magazine called the Gospel Herald, and for the Union Gospel Press of Cleveland, Ohio, from the 1910s to the 1960s, listing the latter as his employer on his 1942 draft record. Walter passed on in 1964 at age 85 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His daughter Daisy had carried on the family tradition by teaching art in secondary schools in Williamsport.
Of note in Dittmar's illustrations, which actually had quite a bit of variety between beautiful nature or romantic scenes and outright caricature, was his effectively sparse use of color. While it may have been a directive by Vandersloot in order to keep cover costs down, it was more likely because he was color blind, making management of multiple colors difficult at best. With just one color plus black he was able to create subtle shadings and halftones that filled out many details in a picture, even if tree leaves aren't really pale maroon. He also provided a great consistency for the Vandersloot output, much in the way that Hoen did for E.T. Paull, making the pieces from this publisher just as identifiable without having to look for the logo. Even on covers incorporating photographs Dittmar was able to make artwork out of an otherwise stiff looking band portrait.
Many thanks for additional information and verification go to the descendants of W.J. Dittmar, historian Alec Stevens, and the Lycoming County Historical Society.

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James Dulin dulin signature
James Dulin Portrait
James Harvey Dulin
(October 24, 1883 to June 17, 1958)
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James Dulin was a Kansas City, Missouri native, born October 24, 1883 to James Everett Dulin and his wife Lillian H. Hagerty, both Illinois transplants. He was the oldest of two boys, including his much younger brother Everett V. Dulin (1/1899). James was living in the same place as many fine ragtime composers like Charles N. Daniels and Charles L. Johnson, the latter of for which he eventually created some covers.
dulin sheet music covers
Before 1900, however, the family had moved down to Springfield, Missouri. One of Dulin's first jobs at 16 was as a clerk in the local railroad office in Springfield while he was finishing school. He was listed in that capacity in the 1900 census, with his father shown as a railroad engineer.
On July 15, 1909, James married Michigan native Adah Dorothy Donaldson, who was also a fine artist working for a Kansas City paper. For the 1910 census Adah was living in a boarding house in Kansas City, but James was not found in the listing, possibly because he had gone out on the road to look for a better work situation. The couple moved to Chicago, Illinois, later that year. Dulin started producing sheet music covers and other art from his own studio in Illinois in late 1910. Dorothy was soon working as a staff artist for the Chicago Tribune. Among her specialties were fashion drawings, for which her reputation would grow into the 1930s. She also contributed some sheet music cover art during her career, including some joint efforst like I Love You Dear. Both of them were utilized by F.J.A. Forster Music in Chicago and Whitney Warner Publishing in Detroit.
Enlisted for service during World War I, James so enjoyed France that after the war he moved his art studio there along with a printing business, and the Dulins spent a lot of time in Europe throughout the 1920s. While there he created many fine graphics for a number of French organizations and even engaged in book illustration. Dorothy was engaged in doing paintings and drawings for fairy tale books, a skill that brought great demand for her work. Records show a couple of trips to and from France in the 1920s, and even a 1930 trip to Shanghai, China, so he was also a seasoned traveler. In 1923, James taught illustration classes for the summer school of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Throughout the decade he maintained a residence in Illinois. In 1931 the Dulins re-established themselves permanently in the U.S., possibly living in Springfield, Missouri for a while, where James continued to do music covers and other commercial art through the mid-1950s. His 1942 draft record showed him as employed by the Carl Gorn Printing Company in Chicago. He listed his brother as living in New Jersey and working as an MD.
While James' earlier works referenced Dulin Studios, he later signed his works with a vertical Jamie, sometimes unobtrusively hidden within the image in the manner of Al Hirschfeld. It was reported that as late as the 1950s Dulin was receiving perhaps $25 per cover, and often created many images for one piece to give the publisher something to choose from. He was frustrated with the non-artistic turn that covers had taken, moving to personalities and photographs with only some abstracts surrounding them. James would often not know the names of the pieces he was commissioned to draw for, so would leave nonsense titles in place which the publisher would replace. The family remembers one in particular called Ixio Pontine. Other than payment for the art, he rarely received even a courtesy copy of the sheet, and his original artwork was usually kept by the publisher. Having moved to Sarasota, Florida in the late 1940s, James joined the faculty of the Ringling School of Art, which was associated with the famous Ringling Brothers Circus family. There he taught drawing and painting. James Dulin died in June of 1958 in Sarasota. He is buried in Springfield, Missouri.
In spite of the detail present in much of Dulin's work, his images remain uncluttered and to the point. Color use was kept to a simple palette (easier for printers), and each element had a clear purpose within the image, whether background or foreground. Since many of his later works went unsigned to avoid a particular legal conflict of interpretation or authorship, an accounting of his full body of covers is difficult at best.
Many thanks for additional information sent to me by Jacques Dulin of Washington, grandson of James Dulin.

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Henry Reichard reichard signature
Henry Reichard Portrait not available
Henry Reichard
(February 27, 1862 to November 21, 1939)
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There is very little professional or family information available on this elusive artist. Henry Reichard (who most often signed his work as H. Reichard) was born in 1862 in Furth, Germany, to woodworker Robert Reichard and his wife Louisa. (The 1900 census shows 1863 as his year of birth, but the 1880 census and his death record both show 1862.) Henry was the second of four children, including Emma (1860), Mary (1864) and Carl (1866).
reichard sheet music covers
The family immigrated to the United States in the late 1860s. Found in the 1880 census in Louisiana, Missouri, part way between Hannibal and Saint Louis on the Mississippi River, the Reichards appear to have settled in with the German population of Saint Louis, Missouri, in the early 1880s. Henry went to New York City for a time in the early to mid-1880s, but whether it was for schooling or to pursue a career is unclear. He married his German born wife Lena C. Eckert in 1886, and while still living in New York the couple soon added two daughters to the fold, Annie Minnie (2/7/1887) and Jeanette (8/1889). However, one oil painting of his recently put up for sale titled Christmas Stories from 1898, may have been completed in Missouri.
It is clear that by the time of the 1900 census that Henry was based again in Missouri, living in the Saint Louis suburb of Saint Ferdinand (now part of the city). His occupation in that record was listed as a designer. Reichard's brother was also an artist, and both had works featured in the famous Pan American Exposition held in Buffalo, New York in 1901, site of the assassination of then-President William McKinley. The 1902 Saint Louis city directory shows Henry as the head of his own self-named firm, working in "Art and Advertising." Most of his sheet music covers appear to be from publishers in Saint Louis, including many on featured items in the John Stark catalog, even though John Stark himself was working in New York City during much of that period. Ragtime historian Ed Berlin has suggested that the girl depicted on the Reichard cover of the five Pastime Rags by Artie Matthews is actually John Stark's daughter Eleanor Stark.
Henry worked well with line-shaded motifs, and appeared to be comfortable with either pencil or charcoal in his renderings laced with some watercolor. With little exception there is some form of flora or floral motif in most of his artwork, and a level of fine detail in all of it. Reichard's sheet music drawing career may have been short lived, as all of his covers appear only in the 1910s. Henry was still in Saint Louis 1910 listed in the census as an artist of pictures. Jeanette was still living with Lena and Henry at that time. He opened Reichard's Art Shop within a couple of years, probably an outlet for supplies as well as a studio. He ran the store until at least 1915.
Henry and Lena had moved to Chicago by 1917, and opened a short-lived music store on South Halstead Street, selling pianos and phonographs, and presumably sheet music. As of the January 1920 enumeration Henry was listed as a commercial artist and living in a Chicago boarding house. His status was still that of married, but it was possible that Lena was sick and in a hospital or sanatorium of some kind. She died on October 14, 1920 at Cook County Hospital. Little is known of Henry's career in the 1920s. However, by the time of the 1930 enumeration, he was rooming in Chicago with psychology teacher Elizabeth Carter, possibly his landlady. He was listed in that census as a commercial artist, but in what media is unclear. As Lena was shown as his wife at his time of death in spite of her absence, he evidently never remarried. Henry Reichard died in late 1939 in Chicago, and is buried in Norwood Park Cemetery.
Many thanks for some additional information and verification go to David Reichard McCusker, the Great Grandson of Henry Reichard.

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John Frew frew signature
John Frew Portrait not available
John Frew
(January 21, 1875 to September 20, 1955)
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Very little is available on this talented artist whose primary legacy graces a number of large format covers from the early 1900s to around 1914. Frew was born in Ireland on January 21, 1875, and immigrated to the United States in March 1895, remaining in the country as a non-declared alien resident. He met his wife Molly Elizabeth in New York and they married in 1909. The 1910 census showed them residing in Manhattan with John listed as an illustrator. Frew's 1918 draft record listed him as a self-employed artist. For the 1920 enumeration he listed himself as a commercial artist and as still married to Molly.
frew sheet music covers
At one point it appears that Frew may have literally been a "starving artist," as he made the news when going to court in 1919 after his landlord for rent profiteering. This was after the rent for his West 58th Street apartment had jumped in half year from $45 per month to $52.50, then $70. He made it clear that during a previous winter he walked up and down six flights of stairs, understanding that tenants had a choice of heat or a running elevator. Frew further noted that finding any lodging in midtown Manhattan was hard enough, but that such abrupt increases made it unfathomable to either stay or move. His case was made particularly public, and along with a few others eventually prompted the 1920 Emergency Rent Laws in New York state. These demanded a standard of reasonableness for both rates and increases, and was eventually modified into the famous rent control that was the bane of landlords but necessary safeguard for tenants in Manhattan and surrounding New York City.
From 1903 into the late 1930s Frew took multiple trips back to the United Kingdom, likely both to visit family as well as keep his visa current as he retained his Irish citizenship. Molly accompanied him on many of these trips. Still listed as a resident alien in 1930, it is unclear if Frew was ever naturalized in the United States, although there is a possible matching record indicating that he may have done so in the 1930s. The couple was found living with John's cousin Victor Stewart and his wife Irene Stewart on Riverside Drive in Manhattan for the 1930 census. In their fifties by this time, the Frews evidently never had children. By 1940, Molly had died, but John was still residing with the Stewarts, and had no occupation listed in the census.
John was able to produce quality artwork on demand, and some of his concepts combine the simple with the intricate. In many cases the subjects would be well rendered with careful shading while the backgrounds were very basic. His work was not as dimensional as other serious artists, but covers such as the comical Dill Pickles Song and the entrancing Solace (done while publisher John Stark was still doing business in New York City) are nonetheless visually stimulating. His most widely circulated work, due in part to the success of the piece within, is the famous Alexander's Ragtime Band song cover. John Frew worked within a limited circle of New York publishers, and reputably suffered from eccentricities that many associated with artistic types, a factor that may have made his working relationships difficult. He also dabbled in comic and magazine/book cover art from the early 1930s through the mid-1940s, including the Astounding Stories line. Frew died in a mental hospital in 1955 having exhausted his funds.

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Bert Cobb bert cobb signature
Bert Cobb Portrait
Albert Andrews "Bert" Cobb
(March, 1869 to April 2, 1936)
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Bert Cobb managed to leave a mark on American cartoon and sheet music cover art, as well as fine portraits of canines, while not leaving much of one on public records, making it difficult to obtain very much information on his life. He was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1869 to Ohio native Henry Zenal Cobb and his Illinois wife Sarah Johnson. The family was in the spring bed business at that time. However, they soon moved to Wilmington, Delaware where Henry expanded into making car springs for carriages and trains. Albert had at least seven siblings, including Henry Zenal (1867), Henry Reid (1871), A. Pullman (1874), Kate (1877), and a brother born in 1880 who died in infancy.
cobb sheet music covers
By 1900 only Albert, A. Pullman, Henry Z. and Kate were still alive. Henry Z. Cobb became an inventor, and usually lived near his younger brother.
After being educated in Wilmington at a military school, Bert went to the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts in the late 1880s. There he learned etching and cartooning, as well as working with woodcuts and half-tone lithography. It was in cartooning that he got his start, working first at the Kansas City Star, then in Philadelphia around 1898. While there he contributed comic strips to the syndicated McClure's Sunday Section and did occasional work for the Philadelphia Sunday Press By 1900 Bert was residing in New York City and contributing humorous writings and comic caricatures to various papers through syndication, focusing largely on the New York Morning Telegraph Sunday edition. The left-handed artist also illustrated a few small books that might be considered the pulp fiction of their time.
Bert branched out and took on a bit of sheet music cover art jobs during this period. Most of his work covers 1900 to 1903, supporting publishers E.T. Paull and Howley, Haviland & Dresser. He is now largely known for his early "coon song" caricature covers for H, H & D, but Bert tackled some fine art projects as well. This includes the simple but elegant Arizona, Champagne, Broken Ties and Where the Orange Blossoms Bloom for Paull. Even though they were largely monochromatic, an unusual move for the publisher who was known for using brilliant multi-color chromolithographic covers, Bert's drawings show amazing detail and depth. His covers were rarely seen after 1903, but a couple appear as late as 1911 under the Jerome H. Remick logo.
One of Cobb's gallery of caricatures from the New York Sunday Telegraph, May 26, 1902
cartoon of caricatures by Bert Cobb from 1902
On February 26, 1901, Bert was married to Louise Ann McMurray in Manhattan. The following year Cobb launched a comic art and literature-based periodical called Pen and Ink which included contributions from other cartoonists, along with fellow illustrators Frank Butler and Reo Bennett. It also included contributions from Palmer Cox who was known for his Brownies characters. It did not last very long, folding within a year. The 1905 New York State census showed Bert and Louise living on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, with Bert working as an artist.
Over the next several years, Cobb's cartooning work was seen in the political humor magazine Puck, as well as in the New York Globe. He had a brief court battle with the American Newspaper Syndicate in Washington, DC in 1905, winning a suit for an account due of $75 for his work. Around 1906 Cobb moved to Boston and his strips were found in the Boston Herald and the Boston Post. A 1907 syndicated strip was about a clumsy fellow named Stumble-Toe Joe. One that appeared in the Herald from 1907 to 1908 was Ambitious Teddy about a boy who was at times a bit zealous. Another good humorous example of mischievous children was a strip that ran in 1911 called Meddlesome Millie about a little girl that constantly got into trouble.
During the mid-1910s he became the official cartoonist for the Republican National Committee, responsible for all of the cartoons issued in conjunction with the presidential campaign of William Howard Taft. During World War I (the "Great War"), he drew a number of Liberty Loan posters in support of bonds to fund the effort. Before 1916 he had moved back to New York City where he became a member of the New York Press Club and the New York Illustrator's Club. There he did some artwork for an early rendition of Life Magazine (not the same one that started in the 1930s). Among his more interesting enterprises that did not quite launch was the intent to make animated cartoons in Rochester, New York, as noted in a 1917 article in the Rochester Democrat.
Mr. Cobb had not been here three days, he said yesterday afternoon when he realized that he might help in putting the city on the motion picture map, and incidentally, himself on the financial map. … Animated cartoons—pen and ink drawings that are as lifelike as, and funnier than, genuine motiong pictures—will be produced by the artist in a way that never before has been attempted. Already Mr. Cobb has been obliged to hire assistants because of the amount of work he is doing. He has two cartoonists in view now, and later, with larger quarters, he will have an office and studio staff of about fifteen persons.
His reasons for picking Rochester were due to it being the home of photographic film manufacturer Eastman Kodak. The methodology he planned to use was a stop-motion technique with cutouts. At least one catoon of a dog, Chubby's Capers, was exhibited in Rochester in March, 1917. None of these cartoons are known to exist,
An example of Cobb's dog etchings from around 1930
a dog etched by Bert Cobb
so are likely lost films. Certainly three years before Walt Disney started his enterprise in Kansas City, something could have come of this. But he was soon back in New York City.
Around 1922 Bert married again, this time to German immigrant Elizabeth "Lisa" Balsie. The couple lived in the Bronx in upper New York City, but did not have children. That same year, he created a notable series of cartoons honoring "Captains of the Automobile Industry," which appeared in newspapers through the United States and Canada. Cobb changed directions in his drawing career in the early 1920s, and starting in 1923 he devoted himself mostly to dry point etchings of famous dogs. Many of them were commissioned by the owners of award winning canines, and his reputation grew to the point where he was almost constantly in demand. This further resulted in multiple coast to coast gallery exhibits from the mid-1920s to the early 1930s. The most prestigious of these showings were held at the Kraushaar Galleries in New York. Cobb also compiled at least two books of his artwork published in the early 1930s, Portraits of Dogs and Hunting Dogs, in addition to doing fine illustrations for many others. He was also the unofficial cartoonist for the Republican National Committee.
In the 1930 census Bert and Elizabeth were still living in the Bronx, with Bert listed as an artist. They moved to a Cleveland Drive address in Harmon, New York, within a couple of years. In mid-March 1936 Cobb was admitted to Grasslands Hospital in nearby Valhalla with pneumonia, dying on the morning of April 2 after a ten day illness at age 66. His ashes were interred at the Cobb family vault in Wilmington, Delaware, on April 5. From that point forward, Lisa was the keeper of his memory, a veritable curator of many of his sketches. Bert's original art works, particularly his dogs, still command prices as high as the four digit range nearly a century later.

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Leland Morgan l s morgan early signature le morgan standard signature
Leland Stanford Morgan Portrait not available
Leland Stanford Morgan
June 9, 1886 to August 12, 191981)
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Named after the famous business tycoon, railroad investor and California Senator [leaving behind a nefarious reputation], Leland Stanford Morgan would eventually become known for his artworks and teaching in the field, but his initial story did not point in that direction. He was born in 1886 California to lumber yard clerk Alvin Nelson Morgan and his wife Margaret Ann Donnlon. Although four other siblings were born during the 1880s, only one other survived, his brother George Nelson (1/22/1885). It is not clear why Alvin left Illinois for the west in the early 1880s, but even thirty years after the famed California Gold Rush had subsided, there was still plenty of opportunity for enterprising individuals. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, San Francisco directories showed Alvin working as a clerk, yardman, and even foreman of a lumber yard, as did the 1900 census taken in the city.
Morgan sheet music covers
Eventually becoming a lumber surveyor, Alvin was able for afford a moderately good education for his sons. After secondary school, Leland attended the California Business College in San Francisco, graudating in December of 1903. He had also developed some skill in art, painting and sketching during those years, which helped to lead him into a career in - insurance.
San Francisco directories from 1905 to 1909, and the 1910 Federal enumeration, all indicated that Leland was working as a bookkeeper or clerk at the insurance firm of Christensen and Goodwin. Still living with his parents and brother, it appears he soon had a change of heart in terms of pursuing his skill set, and in the 1910 San Francisco directory published mid-year, Morgan was listed as a cartoonist. The following year's directory elevated him to the status of artist. It is unclear what publications he may have been contributing to at the time, but there were plenty of newspapers and even a few magazines based in the Bay Area with which he may have done business. Around 1912 Leland migrated across the Bay, settling in Oakland, California, now working as an illustrator. In addition to the occasional book, he started providing sheet music covers in the early 1910s, largely to local publishers, although a couple of them managed to make it to New York via acquisition. The most widely-circulated of those graced the covers of two compositions by Wallie Herzer, a sometimes-composer who was also working in insurance and, in fact, at the same firm as Morgan. When the self-published The Rah-Rah Boy and Everybody Two-Step gained some circulation and the latter piece was released on records, they were both purchased by New York publisher Jerome H. Remick in 1911, including the plates and original cover. This may have encouraged Leland to continue in this field, in addition to his other illustrative pursuits.
During the 1910s Morgan contributed covers to many Bay Area publishers, the most frequent client being Buell Music, a vanity firm run by composer Joseph Buell Carey. However, he also managed some fine work for piano manufacturer and music store Sherman, Clay & Company, Daniels and Wilson run by veteran composer Charles Neil Daniels, and Nat Goldstein Music. While he did not profess to a particular speciality, a number of the pieces with Leland's covers were exotically-themed, showing partially sillhoueted scenes from Hawaii and the Orient. In spite of his other work in California newspapers and magazines, these remaing the most widely circulated and enduring images from Morgan's hand. In early 1917, Leland was married to Ruth Vivian Holloway in Oakland. His June, 1917, draft record taken in Oakland showed him working as an illustrator on his own account. A notice in the Oakland Tribune of October 6, 1917, indicated that he was deployed to the army camp at American Lake, but little else was found on his service during World War I. There is a possibility he remained stateside, since some illustrations show up on 1918 publications.
Once Leland was out of the service, he decided to pursue a more stable career, possibly because most of the country's working artists were currently in the East rather than California. In 1918, he and Ruth moved southwest to Fresno, California, where he worked as an insurance adjuster. However, by 1920, he was employed as a salesman for a wholesale tire company, as indicated in some directories and the 1920 Federal census. It was in Fresno that their daughter Merle Marcella was born on November 7, 1919. Son Alan Edgar would come on April 1, 1922. While the Morgans moved back to Oakland in 1921, Leland remained in the tire and rubber business as a salesman over the next decade, while keeping his art activities to the side. The 1930 enumeration, taking at the leading edge of the Great Depression, had him in the same role. It is possible that either the tire business was less lucrative or profitable during the Depression, or that he simply wanted to go back to his first love. So that same year, Leland jumped back into a career art in a big way, as noted in this announcement from the Oakland Tribune of August 30, 1937:
Art Institute of Oakland, which is now in its 16th year, was established by Elton Fox in 1921 and operated uner the name of "Fox Art Institute and School of Commercial Art." Leland S. Morgan became associated with Mr. Fox in 1930 and reorganized the Fashion Art Course. The school was then called "Fox-Morgan Art Institute and Commerical Art School." In 1935 Mr. Fox went to Australia and Mr. R.C. Dean became associated with school for two years. Mr. Morgan, who has been teaching Fashion Art and Commercial Art continually for the past seven years, is in complete charge of the Art Institute. Visitors Are Always Welcome. 339 15th Street.
Voter registries from 1932 forward to at least 1944 also indicate Leland as a commercial artist, and the 1940 census listed him as the owner and teacher of a commercial art school. Ruth passed on in 1939, leaving Leland a widower. The 1940 enumeration was ambiguous as to his status (M for married is crossed out with a 7 next to it), but their chldren, both now students at the University of California Berkeley, were still residing with Leland. Around this same time he had been introduced to an Ann Arbor, Michigan, artist of some note in oils and watercolors, Alice E. Smiley, a recent divorcée. She had been caring for her ailing mother in Oakland when they met. They were married in Reno, Nevada, and moved into a new residence in Oakland after a honeymoon in Yosemite National Park. It is not certain if the union lasted, as Morgan's 1942 draft record, on which he had curiously altered his birth year to 1891, made no reference to Alice, but rather to his daughter, now Mrs. J.B. Saunders, in Berkeley. The only employment listed was Art Institute.
Leland ran the Art Institute and his Morgan School of Fashion Art for several more years, then all but disappeared from view by the 1950s. He died in Oakland in 1981 just short of age 95. Today, although his covers are less known than those from New York or Chicago publishers, they still see circulation among those in the ragtime and early popular song communities. Signing most of his covers as LE MORGAN, his work was often simple in structure, focusing more on the subject than the background, and using basic color palettes. Many of them might be considered as sillhouettes with details filled in, while others were actually relatively well-rendered landscapes. In some ways, it set apart West Coast publications from their eastern counterparts, and his work still grabs attention a century later.

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Clare Dwiggins dwiggins signature
Clare Victor Dwiggins Portrait
Clare Victor Dwiggins
(June 16, 1874 to October 26, 1958)
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Clare Victor Dwiggins, a native of Clinton, Ohio, was born June 16, 1874 to Charles Dwiggins and Mary (Shepherd) Dwiggins, the oldest of three children, including Claudia (1877) and Vincent (1879). He was named for County Clare in Ireland and for the famed author of Les Miserables, Victor Hugo. The family moved to Wilmington, Ohio soon after his birth. In his early teens Clare and his friends formed a "traveling college of art" doing free-lance work for anybody who would pay. He listed himself as a "professor of free-hand drawing."
dwiggins sheet music covers
When he was sixteen, Dwiggins left his regular schooling to apprentice in an architecture firm. While there, at some point over the next eight years, he started his drawing career as a newspaper cartoonist in 1897, a time when strips were in their infancy and most cartoons were still single panel gags. In 1898 he left the architecture firm to join the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a staff cartoonist, earning a mere two dollars per week.
Among Clare's running features in the beginning were J. Filliken Wilberfloss, Them Was the Happy Days (nostalgia even back then) and Leap Year Lizzie. By 1900 he was living in Philadelphia and listed as an artist, recently married to his wife Betsy Lindsay. When his works evolved into comic strips by the middle of the decade, Dwig, as he was nicknamed, produced the long-running and popular School Days, Ophelia Bumps and Her Slate, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and Nipper. He also produced a number of witty and colorful post cards that are now highly collectible. Betsy was reported to have been his model for many of them.
By 1907 the couple was living in Manhattan. In the 1910 census Dwig was listed as a newspaper cartoonist. This would coincide with the time period when St. Luis publisher John Stark was also located in the New York, and would have commissioned the two covers of Dwig's work he featured. It is not clear whether composer James Scott specifically wrote Ophelia in reference to the comic series by Dwig, but he was evidently the only composer to get any covers by the cartoonist.
Dwig truly enjoyed life with a sense of humor and had a retreat at Canada Lake in the Adirondack Mountains, a location that became famous for many wild weekends and summer vacations, as well as a natural outdoor inspiration for his famous newspaper and author friends. Many of them enjoyed visits to his "Dwigwam" in the scenic woods. In 1920 he was found in Plainfield, New Jersey with Betsy, Phoebe (1910) and Donald (1913), again listed as a newspaper cartoonist. By 1930 the family had moved to more upscale Johnstown, New York, and he now listed himself as a studio cartoonist. In the late 1930s the Dwiggins family moved once again, this time to Los Angeles, California where Dwig worked with the Disney studios and as a newspaper cartoonist, the occupation he listed in the 1940 census. He also illustrated children's books including five published by August Derleth. Dwig worked nearly until his death in October 1958 in North Hollywood, California.
As Dwig often fondly remembered his small home town of Wilmington, Ohio, he likely responded well to requests from Midwest publishers for custom work. Some of his later works, such as an illustrated version of Tom Sawyer and the exploits of a character simply named Bill sold very well and are highly collectible today. On the two covers that are shown here, note Dwig's sense of whimsy mixed with madcap creativity.

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Albert Barbelle barbelle signature
Albert W. Barbelle Portrait
Albert Wilfred Barbelle
(February 15, 1887 to February 3, 1957)
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     Albert Barbelle was of French Canadian and American descent. Born in Fall River, Massachusetts to Alfred Wilfred Barbelle and Mary "Marie" Marcotte., Albert was the middle of five children in the family. There were other branches of the Barbelle family in Fall River as well, many of them being Albert's first cousins. His father died in the mid-1890s.
     Albert spent much of his initial formal art study in his teens in both Paris and London, learning both traditional and commercial art.
barbelle sheet music covers
Once back in the U.S. in New York City in the 1910s, he attended the Art Student League and continued painting, but also contracted as an advertising and sheet music cover artist. By the mid-1910s he was focusing largely on the more lucrative art for hire, while still maintaining his affinity for oils on the side. Some off the first Barbelle covers started appearing in 1912, and the overall quantity of them, which may be second only to the Starmer brothers, increased throughout the decade. His 1917 draft record has him listed as a commercial artist and designer working for the publishing house of Waterson, Berlin & Snyder.
     The 1920 census showed Barbelle as a studio artist. He had recently married his wife Irene, and Alfred's mother was residing with the couple. By the mid-1920s the couple had divorced, and in 1930, still listed as a commercial artist, he was now showing as married to (looks like) Franck Barbelle. This relationship also ended in divorce soon after that. After his two failed marriages, Barbelle's involvement with music increased when he married Austrian-born composer and concert pianist Paula Fuchs in the mid-1930s. She was also a composer, having written Dusting Stars Around the Moon with cover artwork provided by Albert. The 1940 enumeration showed the couple living in Manhattan, and although Paula was listed as a piano teacher, Albert listed "radio reader" as his occupation. By 1942 he and Paula were living in Richmond, New York, with Albert showing only that he owned his own business, possibly his art studio, which was still in Manhattan on 45th Street.
     Later in his life Albert had moved to Staten island, and was able to arrange some gallery shows of his more serious beautiful paintings. Barbelle's last cover, The Party's Over from the show Bells Are Ringing, appeared late in 1956, capping a cover career of some 44 years. He was actively involved as an artist in the community, largely with the Staten Island Museum in New York City, until his death in February of 1957. Albert died just two weeks shy of his 70th birthday following two months of ill health. Paula survived him until 1975, when she passed away in Miami, Florida.
     Barbelle's work was wide ranging, including enhancing photographic subjects, fantasy creations and interesting silhouettes, a series of what would now be considered politically incorrect African-American themed humorous greeting cards. He even did some work illustrating the early Mickey Mouse in print in the early 1930s, having drawn the famous Disney character for Mickey's first book. But his forte was in painting beautiful women. He was very conscious of style and fashion, and was careful to keep his work contemporary as both of those elements evolved through the decades. His use of color was more subtle than that of some artists, but always tasteful, often with one particular hue deliberately highlighting a picture for effect. The volume of work turned out in some forty years was quite impressive, with the earlier large format sheets usually signed with his full name, but later works only as Barbelle.

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R.S. [Rosebud] - Rosenbaum Studios rosebud logo  rosebud logo  rosebud logo  rosebud logo
Morris Rosenbaum Portrait not available
Morris Rosenbaum
(February 22, 1886 to June 1, 1953)
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The identity of the artist (or artists) behind this mystery signature has not, to date, been identified with any level of certainty. However, researcher Keith Emmons has uncovered the origin of the famous Rosebud Symbol and the man who ran the studio. His name was Morris Rosenbaum (German for "rose bush") who formed the Rosenbaum Studios (R.S.) in Manhattan in the early 1910s. Further research showed him to be a Russian/Polish immigrant born to contractor and builder Jacob Rosenbaum and his wife Katherine Rosenbaum who had both married at age 16 in 1878. The growing family moved to the U.S. around 1887 or 1888, shortly after Morris was born. Starting as a building contractor, Jacob later became a real-estate broker in New York City. Morris was the second oldest of six surviving children out of eight born to the couple,
rosenbaum studio sheet music covers
including Minnie (4/1881), William (2/1884), George (6/1892), Henry (6/1894) and Abraham (3/1896). While Morris listed 1886 as his year of birth on his 1918 draft record, it may have been 1887 as per the 1900 census.
Morris Rosenbaum is likely responsible for those cryptically signed covers with the rosebud/RS symbol which date back as far as 1906 when he was 19 or 20. The 1910 census showed him as a naturalized citizen working as an artist for a weekly art magazine and still living with his family. The same information shows on his 1918 draft registration in Manhattan. The 1916 New York City directory revealed a number of artists working for Rosenbaum Studios, giving some indication that it was a fairly busy place and a potential training ground for aspiring illustrators. They included Harold Guenther Breul from Rhode Island, Mortimer Flaum from New York City, Emil James Bistran from Poland, James Murray Mitchell from South Carolina, and Reinhold William Gundlach from Germany, all ranging in age from 19 to 38 years old.
The number of minor and major variations of the symbol alone suggest that it is likely the work of four or more artists, including Morris, which are represented over a nearly 27 year span of the studio's cover art production from West 45th Street, and later on 5th Avenue. As many as fourteen variations of the Rosebud symbol appeared with the initials R.S. on art that graced the covers of many pieces, suggesting the hand of multiple artists. Around 1913 Rosenbaum had employed the famed illustrator of the Oz books William Wallace Denslow, who was befriended by another Rosenbaum employee, Maurice Kursh. Denslow's tenure was short lived as was he, passing on in 1915.
For some time the studio was employed nearly exclusively by the Leo Feist publishing house (1912 to 1919) and later the Irving Berlin company (1919 to the late 1920s). Some covers showed just the rosebud and others the stem and rose in varying proportions. Other variations in the use of color palettes and line style on the drawings themselves further reinforce this contention. The advantage of utilizing a staffed studio was that fees were generally standardized, and the staff could be called upon to provide a wide variety of needs, such as full color drawings or simple border art for a photographic cover. As with the large number of E.T. Paull engravings from the Hoen Company, it is difficult to discern the work of individual artists' contributions, even if their names are known.
The familiar MGM logo designed by
Morris Rosenbaum in 1924
MGM logo
An alternate suggestion for the R.S. name was that of a female relative of the famed Starmer brothers, this one named Rose Starmer. It was speculated that someone with this name had entered the commercial art profession, but research into this possibility affirms that such a scenario is unlikely.
The family appears tohave been skipped in the 1920 count as an extensive search failed to locate them in the census. However, a Manhattan directory of that same year confirms the existence of the Rosenbaum Studio with Morris as the proprietor. A 1921 article in the New York Times concerning a corrupt officer accepting bribes to help recover stolen vehicles mentions Rosenbaum as an artist, one whose car had been recently stolen from in front of his studio on 45th Street. In 1924 Rosenbaum stored a substantial coup when he was commissioned to design the logo for a recently formed film company, MGM, adopting Samuel Goldwyn's own lion logo. His iconic art work, in which the company filmed as many as four lions over the years, has remained substantially unchanged since it first appeared on screen in 1925 in films like Ben Hur.
The 1925 New York State and 1930 Federal censuses showed Morris still living with his parents, listed as a commercial artist, an indication that he probably never married. Fresh cover output from Rosenbaum Studios appears to have all but ceased around 1930, but he still tried to keep the business alive. An advertisement in the New York papers in 1937 was soliciting customers for Rosenbaum Studios to create advertising art. The 1940 enumeration showed him living with his widowed father, still as an artist in his own studio. On his 1942 draft registration Morris noted only that he owned his own business, likely still in graphic arts, and listed his elderly father as his contact. Beyond that all that could be found was his death in New York City a decade later.

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Henry Hutt henry hutt signature
Henry Hutt portrait
Henry Hutt
(December 18, 1875 to January 19, 1950)
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Henry Hutt did not contribute very much to the art of sheet music covers, but he was responsible for a few significant ones. More than anything, his life was that of the eclectic and trouble artist, and very much a product of the excesses of the ragtime era, perhaps in part due to how public it was at times. He was born in 1875 in Chicago, Illinois, to teamster Georg Gotlieb Hutt, an immigrant from Württemberg (a 19th century Germanic kingdom), and his Russian wife, Dora Friedricke Will. Henry was preceded by his sisters Clara (1869) and Amanda (1871). Georg died in the mid-1870s, leaving Friedericke to raise their children on her own, working as a seamstress. The 1880 census showed them living in a Chicago tenement, probably just scraping along until the sisters could get better work to contribute to the family.
henry hutt sheet music covers
Some of that must have gone to help Henry obtain an art education, given the propensity he showed for drawing at a young age. According to an early biography, he was mostly educated in the public schools, but spent every afternoon copying illustrations that he admired. Some of that time was spent drawing animals from life. While hard to confirm, Henry was providing professional-quality illustrations at age 14. When he was just 17-years-old, Hutt worked as an illustrator for a short-lived Chicago-based magazine called Good Form. Surviving on hard work with small Chicago publishers, Henry managed to receive a year of training in night classes at the Chicago Institue of Art in the early 1895 to 1896. While there, he was one of a group of founding members of the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art, formed by around two-thirds of the members of the life class (painting or sculpting of models) at the Institute. According to an early story in the Inland Printer in June of 1896, the members were "all wage-workers and busy during the week with pencil, brush or chisel, doing work to please other people." On Saturdays they assembled in tha Athenaeum Building in downtown Chicago to work in whatever medium stirred their fancy that week, encouraging and helping each other along. the club still exists as the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art, the second oldest such organization in the United States.
An art editor of Mclure's Magazine took a liking to Henry's work, and engaged him to illustrate a Stephen Crane story, His Mittens. From the 1899 forward, his artwork was seen increasingly in major magazines, both as content and advertising. Before the century was out, Hutt moved to New York City where the major art centers and exhibitors were, as well as the funding for his craft. The 1900 census listed Henry as an artist living in Manhattan. That same year saw his work advertised and featured in such fine publications as The Saturday Evening Post, an earlier incarnation of Life Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, Collier's Weekly, The Century Magazine, McClures, Harper's Magazine and, most importantly and frequently, Scribner's Magazine. These were occasionally in pen and ink, but most often with partial to full color prints in wash or watercolor. Along with a few of his peers, such as Charles Dana Gibson and Harrison Fisher, Henry was known in particular for his effervescent paintings of beautiful women, to the point where they became a trend early in the decade. One in particular caught his eye, and he often referred to her as a modern-day Venus de Milo, perhaps even more beautiful. Her name was Edna Garfield Della Torre, a New York native, and from 1902 for the next several years, she would be one of his most used models. Edna and Henry were married on January 17, 1903, and their son Richard Henry was born exactly nine months later on October 17.
Henry's work was now featured in books that he illustrated, newspaper inserts and articles, magazines, and advertising material, including some images for Coca-Cola. Edna was one of many models that he used, but he quite publicly made it clear that she was the ideal model and perhaps the most beautiful in America. When the topic was broached in 1907 by French artist Masson Forestler concerning American women in particular,
One of many paintings of Edna Hutt
by Henry Hutt, c.1909
painting of edna hutt by henry hutt c.1909
it created a bit of rivalry among the artists who represented them on canvas. In a syndicated article printed in late October of 1907, Hutt and Harrison Fisher sounded off in a "friendly rivalry" in the press:
"You may talk as you like, Harrison… but after all your arguments I still hold that my model is the most beautiful woman in the world." And to prove it the artist produced a photograph of his wife, saying: "Here is the most beautiful woman, not because she is my wife, but because she is truly perfect, according to the classical conception of beauty, which is above reproach and the one standard of perfection which outlasts every so-called type, that has its popularity only while its originator lives. Beauty does not live only in the brain of the idealist. It is neither a fad nor a fashion, it is a fact, as the noble outlines of the Venus de Milo prove by their time-defying loveliness."
Hutt further laid out the "Ideal of Beauty Tabulated:" Height—Five feet seven inches, Eyes—Dee blue, Complexion—Very fair, rose tint, Figure—Fully rounded, Hair—Curly chestnut, with god and red lights. By 1908, people across the continent were aware not only of Henry but of Edna as well, who they saw in many of his works, even if they did not know it. However, she was clearly not the only model who caught his eye. There were newspaper spreads of his artwork showing everything from how to wear hair accessories to how to properly wear the latest fashions. In 1908, The Henry Hutt Picture Book full of his sketches and paintings was released, and became a very popular Christmas gift that year, as well as a learning tool for other aspiring artists. A follow-up in 1910 was simply titled Girls, including subjects as young as a few months in its pages. And while all seemed to be going well for Henry with his thriving business, public acclaim, and beautiful wife and loving son, there were dark rumblings behind the public persona. Based on later court descriptions from his wife and others, as well as accounts in newspapers, Henry and his artist friends were apparently a rather rowdy and unseemly bunch at times. For Hutt, it is quite probable that he was an alcoholic, and apparently did more than just sketch his female subjects. He may also have been emotionally unstable, potentially bipolar, and unaware of his limits. This first manifested itself publicly on March 8, 1909, widely reported across the country:
Falling on the street [Broadway] as a result of an attack of acute hysteria, Henry Hutt, the artist whose pictures and sketches of women have spread his fame from one end of the country to the other, is now lying critically ill in a hospital in this city. Hutt gained considerable fame as an artist about ten years ago. His popularity increased and at the present time he ranks well in the front with the artists of America. Hutt's illness is believed to be due to overwork. He was married in 1903, and his wife has been the model for the greater portion of his work. When taken to the hospital it was with difficulty that he was able to tell his name. He is thirty-four years of age.
As he later told it, Edna was also a perpatrator of misdeeds, and had also been abusing him physically and mentally (she was physically the size as he was). While on a visit to the Narragansett Pier in Rhode Island, while Henry was at dinner (or the gaming tables),
A charming Hutt Sketch of a father,
daughter and beau, c.1909.
hutt sketch of father, daughter and beau, c. 1909
she would excuse herself, and he would later find her in the basement in a locked room in the company of other men. When she decided to take a vacation from him for a few days to Narragansett without leaving word, he allegedly wandered about the city in a stupor looking for her in desparation, which precipitated his eventual breakdown. It was clear that there were serious issues with the Hutt union. As of the late spring 1910 enumeration, they were still residing together in Manhattan, complete with a domestic in the home. However, things would soon get ugly and created a mild sensation in the newspapers.
On January 19, 1911, it was reported that Edna brought suit against her husband for abandonment, use of "strong liquors," intimacy with other women, and cruelty. She also claimed that Hnery had prevented her in some way from becoming part of the "Four Hundred," the elite of New York society. Henry counter-claimed that "Her habits of intemperance, violence and extreme cruelty constitute a perfect defense to her action." Her extravagant spending and a similar abadonment of the home was also an issue. In a surprising move, Richard, only seven at the time, was brought in for private testimony. He sided with his mother on the issues he was asked about. Edna made it clear to the public that she did not want Henry's son to hate his father, and encouraged their relationship, then turned around and gave him a difficult time in terms of any hope of reconciliation. By April she had been granted a legal separation and $100 per month (she had asked for $500) for support. However, the New York courts were reluctant to grant her a full divorce that year, so in January, 1912, Edna and Richard moved to Reno, Nevada, where local laws of that time required only a six month residency before obtaining the final action. In the interim, Henry reportedly suffered the scorn of the general public as well as his patrons and employers, as noted in a syndicated article from January 9, 1912:
Do you remember Henry Hutt, creator of the "Hutt Girls," who was kept busy not many months ago making pictures for the magazines? And do you remember Edna Garfield [Della] Torre Hutt, she whom he called his princess and used as a model and described as "more beautiful than Venus?" Well, he is down and out now and is suing to have his alimony reduced. He has brought to court papers to show that he has only $3.80 in cash, owes $5,000; that he is sick abed and his sister is paying the wages of his nurse. Editors no longer fight for his pictures, he says. In fact, he can't get rid of them. He has showed the court a sheaf of rejection letters—the heartbreaking kind, more often received by creators who have not yet "arrived" than by artists who have just been national fads.
On August 30, 1912, Edna's divorce action in Reno was denied, with the judge stating that her charges were not proven or substantiated. After a continued trial on September 16, and another one in mid-October, Edna was finally granted her final divorce. Over the next year she would nearly fade out of view, while Henry regained his footing. He also appeared in a long-running advertisement for Tuxedo Tobacco, quoted as saying "A pipeful of Tuxedo puts new life into me." There was new life, and by 1915 it appears that all was either forgiven or forgotten by the public and his fans. However, the nature of his paintings had also changed. They were still taken from life, but less focused on beautiful women and more inclusive of other subjects. His main competition in that field was still Harrison Fisher, particularly for Cosmopolitan Magazine in later years. But they were both challenged by rising star Rolf Armstrong, who would soon dominate the field of female-centric art. For a brief period from 1917 to 1920, Hutt's pictures were not just seen in the papers or magazines, but issued on the covers of sheet music. Most of these were issued by publisher Leo Feist, but a couple also curiously made it onto publications put out by Vandersloot Music in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, including the waltzes Nona and Naomi by Frederick Vandersloot himself.
On his 1918 draft record, Henry indicated his sister Amanda as his point of contact, and that he was also residing with her in Manhattan. He was not readily located in the 1920 enumeration, although Edna and the children were still living in Manhattan for that record. In 1923 Henry, now 48, married a 20-year-old model named Josephine (last name not found), and moved up to the Bronx area of New York City The 1930 census revealed that he was still an portrait artist, but also doing landscapes, and that Josephine was a model for ladies wear. Little else is known of Hutt's life beyond that, and virtually no commerical artworks were identified from the late 1920s forward, so he may have worked on gallery items and commissions from that point. Hutt remained in the Bronx until his death in 1950 at age 74.
Henry Hutt's overall body of illustrations, particularly of women, were not the highest form of art, but had an appeal that resonated with the general public. He was able to capture certain nuances and details of women that highlighted their charms, particularly his copious body of illustrations of his wife from the first decade of the 20th century. His sheet music covers, part of his later work, actually seemed pulled back a little from his earlier work, focusing on simplicity overall, while still exuding beauty, joy, or even heroic aspects. One of the most famous of his covers was actually drawn by an artist at Rosenbaum Studios. One of the four editions of Over There had a simple picture of marching soldiers (albeit in a Broadway stage manner), which was based on a Hutt sketch. Otherwise, they were focused on "the girl" and often surrounded by white, further enhancing the subject. His most complex and widely distributed cover was for The Vamp in 1920. In spite of his proclivities and at time appearing to live as a tortured and loose-moraled charcter, Hutt nonetheless provided us a window into life of the early 20th century that should still be well regarded a century and more later.

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JVR (John Van Buren Ranck) john v ranck signature
John V Ranck Portrait not available
John Van Buren Ranck
(November 15, 1875 to November, 1965)
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Known cryptically to sheet music collectors simply as JVR, John Van Buren Ranck was born in 1875 not far from one of the eventual sheet music publication centers, Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Whether his collective middle names were an homage to the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, or another family member, is unclear. He was the second of two known boys born to Pennsylvania natives Leonard Ranck and Emma Minnich, the older one being Thomas Franklin "Frank" (9/19/1872). They were followed by three girls, Olive Nina (11/6/1884), Mable (3/1887), and Lulu (4/1890). Both the 1880 enumeration, taken in New Columbia, Union, Pennsylvania, and the 1900 record taken in Wiliamsport, where the family had moved in 1880s, showed Leonard to be a stone mason, so an artist of sorts, given his duties were to cut and shape rocks for specific purposes.
Beyond the family listings, and, of course, his artworks, there is very little available about John on a personal level. In 1895 he was listed in the Williamsport city directory as a clerk.
john v ranck (JVR) sheet music covers
Later in the year he lived for a brief time in Columbus, Ohio, where he was shown as a draftsman, very possible working as an apprentice learning the trade. In 1896 John was married to Miss May Young in Williamsport. Their daughter Dorothy was born in November of 1898. By that time the couple had relocated to Philadelphia, where the 1900 enumeration showed him to be a plasterer, perhaps doing work similar to that of his fathers but with a more malleable medium.patent drawing for the j v ranck rotary engine Still, he was on his way to being an illustrator in the short run, displaying other innate skills as well.
It is unclear where John and May were the next few years, but he surfaced in 1906 in Cleveland, Ohio, working as an artist, most probably in advertising, and possibly creating sheet music art for one or more local publishers. He clearly had some interests on the side, including auto mechanics. A 1907 U.S. Patent Office listing, #322,856, showed that Ranck had created a prototype and the basic paradigm for the internal combustion rotary engine which many decades later would be fully realized in the Wankel engine used by Mazda Motors. This was no small engineering feat, and it was followed by many other renditions by other inventors, of which most referred back to the original Ranck patent.
The Rancks remained in Cleveland through mid-1909, then relocated to Brooklyn, New York. The 1910 census showed John to be the manager and one of the artists for an art or engraving firm. One of his projects that emerged in 1912 was a set of illustrations to accompany the P.G. Wodehouse book, The Prince and Betty, which had been serialized in various newspapers that same year. His primary employer was the Powers Photo Engraving Company, and while with them John developed a new method of creating dense half-tones in photo and lithographic engravings. Patent 761,119 was issued in his name on behalf of Powers in 1913, and the process remained in use for many decades to come, with some improvements made along the way. Part of the patent read:
1. The method of obtaining half-tone reproductions devoid of dots in the high lights, which comprises producing an original having high lights of pronounced low actinic value, and photographing such original through a screen onto a sensitized surface for a period of time sufficient to take such lower lights correctly and to eliminate the dots in the high lights of the negative by overexposure...
Most of the work that John was doing during this time seemed to be for commercial advertising, theater posters, and similar projects. There were other aspects involved as well, since in the Brooklyn city directories of 1912 and 1913 he was listed as an editor, working for Powers at 203 Broadway. His WWI draft record, taken at the last call in September of 1918, indicated that he was now in business for himself as a working artist. It also showed that the family had relocated across the East and Hudson rivers to Mountain Lake, New Jersey, not far from Morristown. It would become their summer retreat. He would remain in that area for the rest of his life. Ranck, now 43, would soon be turning out sheet music covers, ensuring his artistic legacy.
As the music industry made the switch from the large format 10" x 14" sheets to the now standard 9" x 12" size, in part to save paper and ink during the war, Ranck started to provide covers for Fred Fisher, then for several years nearly exclusively for publisher Leo Feist. They were presented in a variety of styles from caricatures to silhouettes and portraits, most of them very clean in design, and virtually all signed with his unique three-initial circle, JVR. John was fortunate to have his designs on the covers of a number of substantial hits, some of which sold millions of copies over the years. The 1920 enumeration, taken in the couple's winter home Boonton, NJ, showed him simply as an illustrator, as he was also providing some artwork to magazines and newspapers.
By the late 1920s, there were few Ranck covers being freshly issued. Formatting had changed across most of the music publishing industry from elaborate illustrations to template designs in most instances that emphasized celebrity over content,patent drawing for the j v ranck unicycle and some illustrators moved to more creative venues where they could draw more than a few interpretive squiggles to surround a picture of Rudy Vallee or Bing Crosby. The 1930 census indicated that John was an illustrator primarily for magazines now, and that May had become a real-estate broker, possibly in response to the oncoming Great Depression, but also perhaps because of the riches of properties available around Mountain Lakes. The Depression did hit the music industry rather hard, so many cover artists moved on to other fields by necessity.
Ranck continued toying with mechanical engineering project as well, coming up with at least two interesting devices in the mid-1930s. In 1934 he patented what he called a unicycle, which was essentially a large wheel in which the driver sat within while riding. This was amplified in 1935 when another set of inventors created an early version of a unisphere riding ball that he called the toy sphere, in which the rider sat inside three wheels in different directions while remaining level as the ball moved, citing Ranck's wheel as part of the patent. While neither of these appear to have made it to market, understandable during a period when there was little disposable income, they did provide the basis for some interesting devices that were later seen in circuses or variety shows, and even some amusements intended for specialty parties.
The 1940 enumeration listed John, taken in Boonton, as a commercial illustrator. It is unclear what he was doing during WWII, but it appears he took up cartooning for a while. In 1949 Ranck was awarded a medal by the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, for a cartoon titled To Have and To Hold. Emma died in the late 1950s, and John made it up to his 90th year before departing in November of 1965. He is buried in a family plot in Williamsburg, Pennsylvania. His many sheet music covers, an important part of his legacy, have seen increased circulation since the advent of the internet, and remain highly regarded for their artistic and communicative values, both displaying and transcending the time in which they were created.

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Joseph and Saul Wohlman wohlman studio signature
Joseph Wohlman portrait not available
Joseph B. Wohlman
(June 5, 1899 to September, 1963)
Solomon Wohlman portrait not available
Solomon (Saul) Wohlman
(March 4, 1895 to April, 1975)
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Joseph and Saul Wohlman were part of a multi-talented family that was somewhat grounded in the entertainment and art business. Born in New York to Austrian Yiddish immigrants Samuel Hyman Wohlman and his wife Celia, they had four other siblings including Irving (3/1889), David (3/1890), Alexander (2/1893) and Beatrice "Bessie" (1897). Hyman worked in the garment industry in a cloak factory. Irving started his own successful sign painting business in Manhattan. David was a salesman for music publisher F.J.A Forster, eventually opening his own music store in New York in the 1920s. Alexander worked in the theatrical business in various guises, listed as an actor in the 1910 and 1920 census. He was also the commercial manager for the Gilbert & Friedland theatrical firm.
wohlman sheet music covers
While little information has emerged on any training given to the brothers, which might have included Irving, as of the 1917 draft Solomon listed himself as an artist, living in Havana, Cuba at that time as a conscientious objector to the war. In 1918, Joseph was listed as a commercial artist who had received a medical discharge shortly after his registration. By 1920 he had added photographer to the commercial artist listing. As of the 1920 census most of the family was still living in Manhattan on West 172 Street, but Saul seems to have evaded that record, perhaps still living in Cuba. Irving married his wife Bessie in the late 1910s. He then started his own sign business across the river in Newark, New Jersey around 1919, with Bessie listed as the president of the firm. They had one child that did not survive infancy, but by the time of the 1930 census they had both a boy and a girl in their home. David married his wife Dorothy around 1921 and by 1930 was no longer in the music business, working in beverages instead. Alexander eventually left the stage to become a full time theatrical manager. Saul returned to New York City after the armistice.
Covers attributed to Saul (S. Wohlman) started appearing in 1919, perhaps the earliest ones drawn in Cuba, having been commissioned and delivered through the mail. Those from Wohlman Studios (Wohlman) made their debut around 1920. Given their collective history in the industry, Joseph was possibly the founder of the firm, and Saul the artistic force behind it. For the next fifteen years many artful covers and magazine advertisements or illustrations appeared with the Wohlman name on them. In retrospect, many of the Wohlman covers were more graphic than they were art, as the brothers went into business at a time when the music industry was creating new standards for cover size. Most publishers abandoned the larger 10"x13" covers during the war, and used more templates that could be repurposed for a number of different pieces. They still managed quite a few originals that were very elegant and steeped in the Art Deco trend of the 1920s. It is unclear if other artists worked for the firm. However, it is probable that the more colorful painted half-tone artwork, and even much of the graphic line art was done by Saul, while some of the line art and the layouts were handled by Joseph.
In the mid-1930s Saul and his mother Celia had moved to Oceanside, New York, away from the city, still listing himself as an artist in the local directories. Joseph and his wife Sophie were still living in Newark, and by 1940 he had joined Irving as a salesman with the sign company. As of the 1942 draft, Irving was still running his sign company in Newark, but Saul and Joseph were not part of that record, perhaps due to previous exemptions. Beyond 1948 there is little trace of the Wohlman brothers except for their deaths, both in New York a dozen years apart. They left behind several hundred music covers and graphics in other media as well, certainly help to contribute to and even set some standards for the generic but elegant style of sheet music seen throughout the jazz age and beyond.

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Frederick S. Manning frederick manning signature  alternate frederick manning signature
Frederick S. Manning Portrait not available
Frederick Stewart Manning
(August 13, 1874 to February 26, 1960)
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Few sheet music cover artists were able to capture the essence of beautiful women quite the way Frederick Stewart Manning was able to. He actually entered that specific field as a second career of sorts later than most artists, being in his mid-thirties when his music covers started appearing. Frederick was born in Port Huron, Michigan, in 1874 to British immigrant Thomas E. Manning and his Illinois born wife Jane M. Stewart. He had two sisters, including Clara (1878) and Pearl (1881). Fred's family moved to St Paul, Minnesota when he was very young, and they appear there in the 1880 census, Fred listed as the misspelled Stuart.
manning sheet music covers
In the mid-1880s the family moved down to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in part to help with Jane's worsening health. She subsequently passed on in 1892. Much of Manning's early artwork which originated in that state was in the field of comic panels and strips of the late 19th century, working for the Colorado Springs Gazette. He also taught penmanship and possibly drawing at Guinn Commercial College in the same town. On October 4, 1893, Frederick married Canadian native Harriet "Hattie" Irene Tremell, in her first trimester of pregnancy. Their son Frederick Lyle was born on April 21, 1894. The young family moved to Denver around 1899, and Fred found work as an advertising and commercial artist for the Palmer-Ellinghausen Company. The 1900 census listed Fred in Denver, Colorado with Hattie and six year-old Lyle. His avocation shown at that time was as a magazine artist.
As Frederick's talents and experience increased, the family moved to Chicago. They soon added Thomas R. to the family on May 22, 1905. While in Chicago Fred did more commercial and comic art, including cartoons for the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Evening Post. He also illustrated a book of poetry, Sweethearts Always, compiled by Janet Madison. Some of his first sheet music cover art appeared in Chicago as well, some of it uncredited. Fred is shown in the 1910 census in Chicago with Hattie and sons Lyle and Thomas, listed as a portrait artist, another of his lines of work that would become more prominent.
In 1911 the Mannings moved to New York City with Frederick in search of a more serious and profitable career in advertising artwork. He scored quickly, creating ad art for companies as varied as the Union Pacific Railroad and Coca Cola. His work soon caught the eye of Will Von Tilzer of Broadway Music, and publisher Leo Feist, and he produced covers for them. He was also a member of the Society of Independent Artists, and exhibited with them during shows held in the late 1910s. Manning's passion for fine portraits continued to surface, and portrait artist is the vocation shown on his 1918 draft card, registered on Staten Island where the family was now living. Lyle had registered the year before, and likely served, but Frederick remained stateside.
In the 1920 census Frederick was listed as a landscape artist, and his wife inexplicably with the name Josephine. This misidentification led to a notion by researchers that Manning had possibly been divorced, but further information proves this to be untrue. Lyle was also starting his own career as a commercial artist around this time. From 1919 to the late 1920s Frederick produced a number of beautiful and elegant covers for publisher Jerome H. Remick, most of which remain highly collectible decades later. In a Colorado article uncovered by researcher Keith Emmons, it was announced that Frederick and his sisters had each inherited the substantial sum of $200,000 from a great grandfather. With this he eventually moved back to Staten Island into a house in Donegan Hills, commuting on the famous Staten Island Ferry to his Manhattan studio. The 1925 New York census, however, may have been taken before this time, as Frederick, Hattie and Thomas were living on 14th Street on the north side of the somewhat Bohemian area of Greenwich Village, surrounded by other artists, musicians and theater folk. In 1929 Frederick received a commission for a portrait of national hero, pilot Charles Lindbergh, Jr., which currently can be seen at the Minnesota Historical Society.
While a number of artists simply followed requested ideas or even submitted their own conceptions for final use without question, Manning was always sensitive to his clients in that he wanted them to be satisfied with what he produced. Therefore, working on his experience in advertising, he would submit a watercolor draft of each concept to the publisher for selection or final approval. Then he would create his works, using paid models, in either watercolor or pastels with occasional ink highlights. He reportedly received $150 a cover from Remick for the bulk of his work in the 1920s, which although a decent wage back then is roughly only two to three times what one copy of some of his more collectible covers sell for currently.
Although much of Manning's earlier work is signed with the full signature represented above, he would occasionally use only his initials (F.S.M. - as on the comical Christopher Columbus), or in later years only his last name. As of the 1930 census, Thomas was seen living with Hattie and working as an assistant vice president for an electric company, but Frederick appears to have missed that record, perhaps on travel at that time. In subsequent years he and Hattie moved to Matawan, New Jersey. When the demand for cover artists of his type faded in the 1930s, he continued serious painting by public or private commission until shortly before his death. Lyle, who had enjoyed a career of his own as a commercial artist, died in September of 1959. Frederick S. Manning passed on at age 85 in 1960 in Matawan. Hattie survived the both until 1968. The beauty Manning captured in his subjects of yesteryear lives on today in vivid hues, which affirms the old saying that beauty is truly ageless.
Thanks go to Frederick's step-grandaughter through Thomas' second wife, Carrie Leoni, for relaying memories of a period when she lived at the Manning household in Matawan, New Jersey, which dispelled the notion of divorce and helped to prompt further research on Manning.

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Rolf Armstrong rolf armstrong signature
Young Rolf Armstrong self-portrait Older Rolf Armstrong portrait
John Scott "Rolf" Armstrong
(April 21, 1889 to February 22, 1960)
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Although Rolf Armstrong is well-known to sheet music collectors of 1920s material, his legacy actually goes far beyond that distribution medium, as does his fame, all in the name of art. John Scott Armstrong was the last of four children (by two decades) born to Canadian immigrant Richard Armstrong and his wife Harriet Scott, the other three being William Noah (1866), Cholula (or Chula) (8/6/1867) and Paul (4/25/1869). Richard was nearly 50 when his youngest son was born in Bay City, Michigan, and was already nearing the end of his career as a fire boat builder and tugboat/excursion captain on Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. He also ran a farm at his residence, although the future of that and his boat business was already in question as John reached toddler status. The Bay City Daily Tribune of February 22, 1890, quoted the elder Armstrong as saying:
There is no longer a decent livelihood to be made in river trade... I will neither run a saloon, pander to low elements, or run my boats on Sunday and because of this I see no profit to river service. You may say, then, that my whole outfit, steamboats and all, is for sale. I cannot see a livelihood in this business and want to sell out. If anyone else can he may get my boats cheap... I will sell out, if I can, failing I shall do the next best thing. Place my boats as advantageously as possible and keep some of them on the river so long as they will pay expenses.
However, despite the gloomy prognostication, Armstrong managed to survive the next two years. Then in late 1892 he got a lucrative contract with the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois,
rolf armstrong sheet music covers
providing passenger shuttle service on Lake Michigan for the duration of the spring and summer of 1893. This was a temporary respite at best, and the gains from this had diminished with a couple of years. His son and John's brother Paul had also been a Great Lakes boat captain, but both of them seemed happy enough by the end of the 19th century to hang up their pilot's hats and pursue other avenues. Richard had also lost his farm and his family home during his economic crisis. So by 1899 the family had moved east to Detroit, Michigan. The 1900 enumeration taken in Detroit showed still claiming to be a boat owner and builder, although in what capacity by this time was unclear. Richard Armstrong died in 1903, leaving his wife and youngest son alone in the world.
Harriet and John relocated west to Seattle, Washington, where William had gone to manage interests in various mines in Alaska and Canada, and would eventually participate in Frederick Cook's unsuccessful attempt to reach the peak of Mount Denali. Jack made the decision to work as a clerk for a steamship company, a trade he knew, rather than to go to school. This was likely to help support his mother during this time. He also pursued his personal interest in sketching and painting, self-developing his skill for the most part with some advice given here and there. By 1908, when he was 19, John had decided in a career as an artist, but wanted further training. He managed to enroll in the Arts Institute of Chicago where he furthered his education and refined his skill. Some of his tuition was offset by tutoring other students, such was his talent. His self-portrait from around 1908 (a detail of which is the left picture at the top) showed innate skill, but it also showed him to be a strikingly handsome individual as well. Along with charm, these traits and his natural abilities took him far in forwarding his career. It is uncertain exactly when and why John took on the more exotic Germanic name of Rolf (columnist Walter Winchell later reported that it was from numerology), but he was using it regularly before 1910, and given the subsequent documents it appears on, he possibly used it legally as well, even though his birth name was noted in the press several times through the time of his death.
Rolf found his way to New York City around 1911, and quickly found work through his considerable talent, and many friends as well. He was also called on to illustrate and provide covers for numerous books and magazines during the 1910s. While some appeared in newspapers, one of the more lucrative high-exposure gigs was with the Puck periodical.Puck Magazine cover from March 6, 1915 One cover in particular stands out, playing on the burning question of American neutrality with the European war in 1915. It shows a gentleman trying to hold a nervously neutral stance between two attractive women, but also served as a metaphor for what many Americans were feeling at that time, which articles inside that March 6, 1915, issue extrapolated upon. There were many sightings of Rolf with his brother Paul, who had become a noted playwright, at New York diners and the track at Saratoga Springs.
A New York Tribune article from March 18, 1917, in reference to frequent meetings held at the Biltmore Hotel ballroom, called Armstrong and his New York city peers, more based in the serious art world than just cover illustrators, part of "Art's Melting Pot." He was also called out as one of more prominent artists who had worked on patriotic posters during the United States' involvement in World War I, along with Howard Chandler Christy, Charles Dana Gibson and James Montgomery Flagg, creator of the famed "I Want You!" Uncle Sam recruitment poster. Armstrong's contributions were for the U.S. Navy, and as part of a campaign to recruit workers at the shipyard located at Port Jefferson, Long Island. As for direct participation in the war, on his draft record, filled out on June 5, 1917, Armstrong claimed exemption due to a left arm compound fracture. This did not keep him from some of his favorite recreational activities or social events such as horse races and grand parties. One of his favorite passions was born in the family business of his youth out on the water, although now recreational, as Rolf was an avid participant in boat races and regattas, landing mentions of him in many New York newspapers.
In October of 1919 Rolf was married to 19-year-old actress Claire Louise Frisbie. It was around this time that his work started appearing on sheet music covers, largely from the C.C. Church house of Hartford, Connecticut, as well as J. Stasny and M. Witmark in New York. The majority of these memorable images were of beautiful women in pastels, and virtually all of them were reproduced in four to six color processes, more elaborate and expensive than most traditional covers up to that time. His closest competition was Frederick S. Manning, who did very fine similar work for Jerome Remick. The 1920 census taken in Manhattan showed Armstrong working as a commercial artist, and having been married, but Claire was not listed at the same address.
Throughout the next decade Armstrong's work was highly celebrated, if also commercialized. Rolf's paintings were included as advertising giveaways, found as newspaper supplements, although by the mid-1920s the sheet music covers were no longer one of his products. The Vatican in Rome, Italy, even released a series of postage stamps with Armstrong images of beautiful women. Thanks to a collaboration with the advertising firm of Brown and Bigelow, Armstrong became one of he earliest creators of the calendar girl in the early 1920s, and continued with that trend for nearly three decades. Rolf had a pool of young women that he worked with, having selected some of them from beauty contests he was tapped to judge, along with many of his peers. But he also managed, so it appears, to stay out of trouble, rarely espousing any political or social views, and just enjoying the high life. He was also rather well off, living in a nice home on Bell Boulevard in Bayside at Little Neck Bay, Long Island. The 1930 census showed Rolf and Claire hosting a Japanese servant in the home as well. Curiously, the Armstrongs claimed to have not aged over the past decade, with Rolf still claiming to be 30.
The 1930s would prove to be hard for the United States and the world in general with the Great Depression. While Rolf was not immune to the economic hardships, he fared better than many, and his work was still in demand, as was his opinion. In general, according to a quote found in newspapers in the 1950s, "He insists his models must have that 'amateur look', and when [she] hangs on a wall, she makes a man feel 'doggone lucky' to be in the same room." In an article on the "Standard of Feminine Beauty" in the July 11, 1931 issue of The Billboard, Armstrong waxed on his personal opinion of what that standard should be:
Rolf Armstrong, who draws them in most kissable temptation, holds out for the old-fashioned idea of "ancient classical standards of proportions." Armstrong believes that these old Greek standards still govern beauty and states that "certain harmonious proportions may produce a type that is picturesque or piquant, but the more perfect the beauty the more exactly it conforms to the Greek standard.
"If the face is lovely," says Rolf, "it will dominate defects of figure. And since beauty is composed of such definite things as structure, texture and color, it can be affected only slightly by personality" He is a gentleman who prefers brunets [sic], 'tis said, and in discussing types he stated that. "Blonde, brunet [sic] or redhead may be supreme. It all depends on how closely she approximates the idea of her particular type. I have observed, however, that ultimate perfection is more often approached by brunets [sic] than by the other types." Now, if that isn’t just too sweet for us girls of the brunet [sic] persuasion. Time we got a break, anyway.
Rolf continued his passion for regattas and yachting as well as other forms of boating and canoeing, winning some championships along the way, and competing at an international level. Much of his artwork was now relegated to magazines and a variety of celebrated calendars, plus a few private commissions.
Rolf Armstrong painting actor James Cagney around 1954.
Rolf Armstrong painting James Cagney around 1954
In 1932 he spent a couple of months in Paris, France, taking in the artistic culture and painting some of the locals. Although they lived in Bayside for nearly a decade, by late 1934 the Armstrongs had relocated to Beverly Hills, California, where he was hired to paint a series of portraits of Hollywood motion picture stars, primarily of the female variety. Among the more notable subjects painted during his various stints in Hollywood were Mary Astor, James Cagney, and Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster. Rolf returned to Long Island for a couple of regattas, but spent much of the next few years on the west coast. While out there he spent quite a bit of time with his nephew, actor Robert Armstrong, only three years his junior.
Given that Rolf himself had movie star looks and charisma, there were the expected veiled rumors about dalliances with his many models, some of them painted in the nude, although none were ever confirmed in public. Just the same, with several strains on their personal life, not the least being his hobbies and active social life, the Armstrongs were divorced in December of 1939, with Claire claiming desertion. There is, however, a possibility that she instigated or made the dissolution necessary. In an interesting twist, the divorce was granted in Reno, Nevada, on December 30, while in the courtroom next door, Rolf's nephew Robert was also obtaining a divorce from his wife Gladys Dubois. Robert and Claire would be married within two months, probably raising a lot of eyebrows and creating a familial tension. Rolf would soon retreat back to New York City.
The 1940 census showed Armstrong residing with lawyer Phelan Beale in Manhattan, along with another lodger, Esther Hellberg, who was a private masseuse. As Phelan was listed as a "partner," a designation often used during that period to denote certain living situations, it might raise some questions about Armstrong's sexual identity at that time, and possibly another potential reason for the end of his marriage. However, as abundant evidence survives to suggest an entirely heterosexual existence, his relationship with the lawyer could be considered either experimental or simply miscast, and nothing definitive remains in that respect. By the time of the 1942 draft Rolf was back in Bayside where he would retain a home for the remainder of his life. The "Dean of American Girl Painters" would continue to create calendars and other art throughout most of the decade. He was still viable and quotable in the 1950s as well, and in 1954 in an article concerning modeling trends for the following year, was noted as saying with just a hint of objectification:
The average man is not interested in the gaunt body with a crew haircut. Men like luscious curves. Anybody who doesn't believe that should notice how all eyes trail Italian girls.
Armstrong remained active in art during the 1950s, although more for private than commercial clients. In 1959 he went to Honolulu, Hawaii, to do some painting, but took ill in the late winter of 1960. Rolf died of heart disease at age 70. He was cremated and his ashes scattered from the overlook at Nuuanu Pali near the southeast corner of Oahu. His legacy lives on in thousands of highly regarded works of art across a wide spectrum of products and mediums, highly valued by art and music collectors alike.

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Helen Van Doorn Morgan helen van doorn morgan signature
Helen Van Doorn Morgan portrit not available
Helen Van Doorn Goetz Morgan Williams
(June 2, 1899 to June 5, 1963)
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Helen Van Doorn Morgan has long been a mystery in terms of who she was, although her sheet music cover art is well-known to collectors. There are many inaccuracies in listings that include her name, including her birthplace, year and death (meaning that the traditionally cited 1902-1986 lifespan is not correct). It was relatively difficult to find anything in official records on Ms. Morgan until her actual birth name was discovered, so hopefully this article will stand as a new and correct reference to this talented illustrator.
Helen was born in Quincy, Illinois, in the summer of 1899 to St. Louis, Missouri osteopath Dr. Herman Fred Goetz and his Illinois native wife Jessie Allison Morgan, who had been married in 1895. The 1900 census taken in Quincy showed the couple living with Jessie's parents, Joseph Morgan and her daughter's namesake Helen Van Doorn.
morgan sheet music covers
After the loss of the next child, Jessie gave birth to Joseph Morgan Goetz in 1903. At some point over the next few years, Jessie's father died and her marriage ended. The 1910 enumeration taken in Chicago, Illinois, showed the now-divorced Jessie Goetz and her children residing with her widowed mother, and no occupation was listed for any of them.
During the 1910s both Helen and her brother Joseph (called by his middle name of Morgan for much of that period) managed to get formal training in commercial and fine arts. Helen was working for an art studio by 1919, and she declared as such for the 1920 census. In addition to what was potentially advertising art and posters, Helen, now using her mother's maiden name of Morgan, also started providing sheet music cover art to the F.J.A. Forster publishing house. A couple of them were featured on works composed by ragtime composer Charles L. Johnson for his post-ragtime publications. She would sign many of the Forster images from 1919 to 1926, and would also provide a handful for other Midwest publishers, including Milton Weil and Ernest Clinton Keithley. A 1923 Chicago directory showed Helen employed as an artist a 59 E. Van Buren Street. By this time, Joseph (having also taken his mother's name of Morgan) was working as a commercial artist as well.
Most likely in mid-to-late 1927, Helen and her brother and mother relocated to New York City. There she continued her career in commercial and sheet music art, now providing images largely for DeSylva, Brown and Henderson as well as the Red Star music publishing company. The 1930 census showed the family residing in Manhattan, all now officially using the last name of Morgan, as Helen had done for over a decade. The following year, Joseph was married and moved out of the residence.
After this the trail grows a bit thin, however there is enough to construct an overall narrative. It is difficult to find any of Helen's art gracing sheet music covers after 1930, so she was likely a victim of the Great Depression in that regard. However, she continued creating everything from paintings and sketches to sculptures, and even the occasional magazine cover. Helen was not readily located in the 1940 enumeration, so her whereabouts during the mid-1930s to around 1940 are unclear, albeit likely in New York or Pennsylvania. By the early 1940s Helen was married to Robert John Ruskin Williams (8/26/1885), a divorced artist also working in New York City. As he had been working in that field in Chicago in the early 1920s, it is highly likely they had known each other for some time. The couple was living in Carversville in Central Pennsylvania in the early 1940s.Grave marker for Helen Van Doorn Morgan Williams When Jessie died in 1946 following a serious fall, she was buried in Carversville, thus verifying the connection between Helen and Robert, as she had signed the informant slot on the death certificate as Helen Williams. In later years, Helen and Robert lived somewhere between Manatee and Sarasota, Florida. Helen died in Sarasota in 1963 just three days after her 64th birthday. Robert died nearly three years later in Manatee at age 80. Both are resting at Sarasota Memorial Park, and the markers for each of them have an identical relief of an artist's palette with three brushes.
As for Helen's sheet music style, which was created predominantly from 1920 to 1930, it echoes many elements of the Art Deco style from that time, and could be described as simple for the most part, using a muted but earthy and harmonious color palette. This allowed focus on her human subjects, most of which were tall, thin and elegant. Many of the covers are vertically inclined, one of the characteristics of Art Deco. While not as prolific as many of her male peers, her name still stands out a century later as an important contributor to the transitional age of sheet music from the whimsical styles of the ragtime era to the largely templated style of the 1930s.

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Sydney Leff sydney leff signature
Sydney Leff Portrait
Sydney Lefkowitz (Leff)
(November 18, 1901 to December 10, 2005)
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Sydney Lefkowitz was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1901. He was the youngest of eight children of Austro-Hungarian immigrants Joseph Lefkowitz, a poultry salesman, and Rose Berger. His siblings included Mildred (1888), Israel (1889), Henry (1890), Samuel (1892), Celia (1894), Abraham (1897), and Emmanuel (1899). In 1910 the family was shown living in Brooklyn. While Sydney desired to be an artist at a young age, he did not want to be a starving artist. So he pursued commercial art early on, recognizing the viability of doing so in the growing fields of magazine and sheet music illustration.
leff sheet music covers
Some of Sydney's first commercial work was produced while he was still in high school, and continued as he took a long subway commute from Brooklyn each afternoon to attend the vocational National Academy of Design in East Harlem, with fellow classmate Al Hirschfeld, another iconic 20th century artist. He appeared in the 1920 census at age 18 working as an artist in a studio. In 1923 Sydney, who had by now anglicized his name to Leff, answered an advertisement from lyricist Sam Coslow who was looking for a new cover artist. The initial jobs paid $15, but he was soon able to command much more. The simple yet eye catching style translated into a lot of contract work for the young artist, and he was known to turn out three to four covers a day at some point at $25 each, ultimately completing over 2000 of them.
Clearly reflecting the hair and clothing styles of the 1920s in his art, many of Leff's covers could be categorized as Urban or Moderne. He was both highly involved and evolved in his cover artwork during the bulk of the Art Deco era of the 1920s and 1930s. He appeared as a commercial artist in the 1930 census, living in Brooklyn with his wife of Russian descent, Rita Zion, whom he had married in 1928. Rita was also a talented illustrator, which was likely how they met. During the subsequent decade the Leffs had two daughters, Joan (1931) and Gail (1934). The 1940 enumeration also showed Syd to be a commercial artist. However, Leff retired from producing music covers in the 1940s as more of them were featuring celebrity photographs than they did art.
The next obvious move was to advertising, in which he became somewhat of an icon on Madison Avenue. Sydney lost his wife Rita in 1979. After another retirement, Sydney tried marketing some of his older sheet music drawings again on calendars, mugs, and other merchandise, with limited success. Still, his work had staying power, a point that was emphasized as recently as 2000 when some of his covers were featured in a cabaret music exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York with Mr. Leff in attendance. He finally passed on at his assisted living residence in December of 2005 at age 104.
One word that describes Leff's style might be contrast. Whether it be in shading or through starkly different yet complimentary covers, he was able to bring out the parts of the cover that were most relevant to the song within. Irving Berlin in particular used Leff for a large number of publications during his career in part because of the artist's command of relevance, and they became close friends. Leff also conveyed emotion and attitude, partially through facial expression but also through the use of body language. His comic covers are whimsical in both content and proportion without overdoing the caricature aspect.

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Bill Edwards edwards signature
Bill Edwards Portrait
William G. Edwards
(Within the Past Century to No Time Soon)
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Being the type of person who wants to be pretty good at everything rather than regarded the best at any one thing, and also because I like having my hands on every possible aspect of what I do, I slowly became involved in producing cover art for my own music. I had some art training during my regular secondary school education, and got involved in graphic arts in college, with more emphasis on design than painting or rendering. I have also studied animation art, again not the same as static art forms. So I went into this with at least some notion of an artistic eye as well as practical real world experience in drawing that went beyond paint by numbers (although I did pretty good on those).
edwards sheet music covers
Initially my artistic production was limited to cassette covers in the 1980s, some done on one of the early models of the Macintosh computer. But as the tools became more sophisticated, I found that I was able to produce interesting cassette/CD covers as well as those for sheet music. On a very primitive graphics rendering program I was able to replicate a faux-Schirmer cover for Hanon Rag on an early Tandy computer in 1985. Once computer generated (CG) art became a legitimate form both in movies and in real world graphics, I felt less inhibited about my manual drawing limitations and was able to exercise some freedom in creating relevant covers with a modicum of confidence. I then set out to slowly recapture the art of producing sheet music covers.
Somewhere along the way, likely during the 1930s, photographically produced covers became cheaper to produce than those with colorful cover art. For starters, many more people were able to take photographs than those who possessed the talent to draw or paint relevant artwork. Then there is the factor of celebrity endorsement, which photography best represented. By the 1970s, a larger number of covers were regressing back to text-only format with minimal or no art at all. So when I started producing ragtime covers I did it within the capabilities of the tools I had. The initial covers were plays on the ubiquitous G. Schirmer yellow books with some minor alterations. The Hanon Rag and Ragtime Nocturne logically fit into this mold. But when the titles became more descriptive, I figured that some kind of artwork was necessary.
In the case of Pride of the Prairie, Lovely Laughing Lucille, Ragtime Bobolink (by Joseph Lamb), Snuggle Pup (by George L. Cobb) and The Ragtime Pamela, I turned photographs into a mix of watercolor and pastels in an attempt to create something that looked painted or drawn. For The Necromancer, I was fortunate to have an appropriate drawing given to me by noted artist and former Washington Redskin George Nock, which I incorporated with a custom text logo. The Wiener Schnitzel Rag is an attempt at cartoon watercolor, and was done by my own hand. Ragapples was also rendered by a number of painting and computer generated techniques from individually photographed or scanned elements. Charleston Claude (by Vincent M. Johnson) was a PhotoShop hack recreating an old Gene Buck cover with a bit of whimsy. As my skills increase in both manual and computer art I am sure that future covers will be more adventurous, and will hopefully recapture to some extent those days when cover art was a prominent feature or enhancement of sheet music.

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Postlude
As America entered World War One (then called The Great War) in 1917, the U.S. Government asked all industries creating consumable products with valuable materials, including paper, to cut back on those materials. In the case of sheet music, this meant not only changing the size of the music from the large 10" x 13.5" format to the now common 9" x 12" format (and even smaller sheets during the war in some cases), but also condensing four pages of music into two, and shrinking the cover art as well. In many cases, including the fabulous Paull covers, it meant using a smaller color palette to conserve ink. While this change not as drastic as the migration from 12" album covers to 5" CD covers, it still had some impact on how art was realized on sheet music covers.
E.T. Paull died at the end of 1924 shortly after copyrighting his last piece, Spirit of the U.S.A.. One additional work, Top Of The World was published after his death complete with the trademark cover in glorious color. Still, the end of the era of E.T. Paull, coupled with the format size and advancements in photographic printing, also marked the end of the cornucopia of fabulous covers as the trend shifted more towards celebrity pictures, standardized pictures or patterns, and sparser art. Some of this change reflects the financial ravages of the great depression of the 1930s, but much of it was a move to cut overall costs and production time as well as streamlining appearances as music consumer tastes matured. There was also increased sensitivity to racial stereotyping and gross caricature. While the Starmers, Leff and others continued to produce covers, they were engaged more in design than full-fledged art. Entertainment interest had shifted towards player pianos, sound recordings, radio, movies, and the combination of sound and pictures in 1928. While there are a few worthy pieces from the 1930s on, most are more in the style of poster art with subdued colors on coated papers. As much as the golden days of ragtime, radio, television, and even rock and roll are gone in these days of techno-everything, we should as much recognize the golden age of sheet music as a whole, not just the covers. But wasn't it fun just the same?
So if you're going through a box in Grandma's attic, visiting an out-of-the-way antique mall, or attending an auction just for fun, don't ignore that pile or box of sheet music over there since there are likely a few treasures within. If you don't want it, then at least tell me about it. Somebody's got to preserve this bit of Americana! And I don't mind. Really!

Even More Ragtime on the Web can be found through my Links page,
which is well worth a visit.


Ragtime Webring-Dedicated To Scott Joplin

The Ragtime Webring-Dedicated to Scott Joplin and the music of the Ragtime Era, this ring is an invaluable resource for jazz music lovers, musicians and historians. Sheet music, midi files, afro-american history, record collectors...

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There are lots of great ragtime recordings by top artists available from
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Including some of my recommended favorites:
Max Morath Dick Hyman Dick Zimmerman
Paul Lingle Wally Rose Lu Watters
James P. Johnson Tony Caramia Squirrel Nut Zippers
Marcus Roberts Butch Thompson Jelly Roll Morton
Glenn Jenks Sue Keller Fats Waller
The Good Time Jazz Catalog and Bill's personal favorites, The Firehouse Five+2!


And don't miss these movies which include some ragtime music:
The Jazz Singer The Sting
Alexander's Ragtime Band Scott Joplin
The Legend of 1900 Ragtime
For Me and My Gal Meet Me In St. Louis
In the Good Old Summertime Take Me Out to the Ball Game
The Jolson Story Jolson Sings Again
Cheaper by the Dozen San Francisco
Somewhere in Time Titanic (1953)
The Other Pretty Baby
42nd Street Reds
The Son of Kong Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
Cheyenne Social Club The Shootist
How To Dance Through Time - Dances of the Ragtime Era

Or just search their site using the search engine below!

     

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