It’s never a pretty site when a collector falls asleep at the switch . . .

As I collector, I have fallen asleep at the switch on more than one occasion. I can only think of two times at the moment, but I probably do it a couple of times per year.

The two instances I can think of at the moment both involve Frank Godwin comic strips, and both involve me missing out on eBay auctions.

The first instance was quite a fascinating lot. It involved a batch of daily Rusty Riley comic strips, and the principal point that made these highly unusual is that a lot of them were printed in color. I had never even heard of such a thing before. (Remember, these were daily strips.) Anyway, I had intended to bid on them, but waiting till the last minute didn’t really happen, because I ended up kind of forgetting about them until it was too late.

That was fairly recent.

Even more recent was an auction that ended on March 15. This one, too, was highly interesting. It was a comics section from the Boston Sunday Post, November 24, 1940, which included one of the Connie strips toward the end of the “known run.”

Here is a link: eBay.

The Connie strip shows her back in the time of Abraham Lincoln.  There are nine panels in the Connie strip, and Lincoln is shown in the last panel of the strip.

There is a four-panel Wonder-Land bottom strip, as well.

Definitely a nice item. It looks pretty plainly to have been based on Godwin art.  As I have discussed elsewhere on this blog, some of the most recent Connie Sunday art was not by Godwin, or at least it was not inked by him.

I hate to leech other people’s material, but I am making a little exception in this case. Here is some of the Connie strip under discussion.  It shows a more or less classic “late style” of Connie, with what I consider a late-1930s or early-1940s hairstyle. The strip does not show much action — it’s basically people standing around.  So, its chief interest is in its being very likely an extremely scarce example toward the apparent end of the Sunday strip’s run.

Connie 11 24 40 cropped a

I do have an example of the same Connie strip in French (a Paulette strip published in Canada). It would have been nice to have that eBay example, but I cannot really complain. I already have so much Godwin stuff, I can’t easily keep track of it all.

Oh, and by the way . . . when I really feel that I desperately want something on eBay, and if I intend to bid on it, I never wait till the last minute. I always bid well in advance of the end of the auction.

But in recent years, I have not bought much on eBay at all. I have other collecting interests, in addition to Frank Godwin, and it is hard (or impossible) for me to keep up with all the relevant items on eBay.

—Tom Sawyer

March 30, 2015

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Frank Godwin and the 1924 “The Howitzer” . . .

Note:  This is a revised version of a post that was “up” for a very short period in 2013.  In view of the recent reference to the “choir boys” painting on Liz Rizzo’s Frank Godwin Facebook page, I thought I would revise and repost it.

This post deals with Frank Godwin’s paintings for the 1924 edition of The Howitzer, which is the yearbook of the United States Military Academy, familiarly known as West Point.  In this post, I will carry the topic a little further.

Frank Godwin served in the United States Army during World War I, so he was a particularly fitting choice to produce illustrations for the book.  Essentially, Godwin produced illustrations for several of the major divisions of the yearbook.  He also produced two painting which were reproduced on the front endpapers and were repeated on the rear endpapers.  So, a total of seven Godwin illustrations appeared there, in all.

Ironically, the frontispiece illustration, facing the title page, was not drawn by Godwin.  Instead, that task went to “Hurd,” presumed to be Peter Hurd, a West Point dropout (didn’t know you could just resign!) who was only twenty years old when the illustration was printed.  (I don’t think anyone today would say that it was a good illustration.)  Hurd went on to become a well-known artist.

The Godwin paintings were all attractive, though a couple were less interesting than others.  Among the better ones, it is difficult to choose the best.  Possibly the painting for “Activities” was best.  It shows extremely effective use of colors and of light and shadow.  It reminds be a little of the rather theatrical illustrations Godwin produced for Tales From Shakespeare (published by Winston), which was first published (with Godwin illustrations) in . . . 1924!  (Same year as the yearbook.)  The actual reproduction of the painting consists of the colorful area with the curved top.


Another illustration of interest is the one for the “The Classes” section of the book.  It is possibly my second favorite, although, again, it is a little difficult to decide.  The degree of detail in the illustration is amazing.  The use of color is great, with the stained-glass windows contrasting well with the subdued colors of the rest of the painting.

the classes

You might say, “Gee, Tom, you said that the degree of detail is amazing, yet all you showed was a rather poor-quality image.”  How do you know about the detail?”

Well, I know about the detail, because I am fortunate in having the original (quite small) painting in my collection!

Actually, the overall reproduction-quality of the Godwin paintings in the yearbook varies quite a bit, and even the yearbook doesn’t perfectly display Godwin’s virtuosity in that painting.  A much better representation of the painting (than the one above) is found on Liz Rizzo’s Frank Godwin, Artist, Facebook page.

That photograph of the matted-and-framed original painting was taken before I bought the painting.  I think I bought the painting around ten years ago.  The photograph shows the painting behind glass, and there are reflections (I think mainly of other framed pictures) that are a bit distracting.

The painting medium appears to be some kind of opaque watercolors (loosely speaking) — gouache, I would think.

As far as I know, the 1924 The Howitzer was the only edition of the yearbook that contained Godwin illustrations.

By the way, in my opinion there is no reason to believe that Godwin designed the botanical background.

—Tom Sawyer

November 20, 2013

Revised December 26, 2014

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Comments on bound volumes of the Sunday “Public Ledger,” Philadelphia . . .

Note:  This is a post that I took down many months ago — I believe about 19 months ago, in fact.  I thought I would re-post it now because it explains more about the volumes of the Public Ledger in my possession.  It addresses some of what Thomas Ward brought up in his comment regarding the preceding post.

Many years ago — maybe around a dozen — a company maned Gateway Books, in Hebron, Maryland, auctioned off, on eBay, a large number of bound volumes of old newspapers from the 1920s and 1930s, many of which contained examples of the Connie Sunday strip and other Frank Godwin material.  I was fortunate in being the successful bidder on a number of the lots. Most of the volumes I won were for the Sunday Public Ledger.

I still have five of the bound volumes for the Sunday Public Ledger.  (I believe I had a sixth one as well, from which I extracted the material I was interested in.)  [9-1-14 note:  Actually, that sixth volume might have been a bound volume of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from the 1930s.]  The five bound volumes I have are:

October-December 1925

January-March 1926

October-December 1929

October-December 1930

April-June 1931

These are not the type of thing I look at every day.  I have kept a couple of them in the packaging I received them in (for more protection than they would otherwise have), and I just noticed that the shipping label on one of them shows a shipping weight of 52 pounds!

I have not opened any of them up for purposes of this post, so the information above (and following) is based on information I have written down earlier, and on memory.

The 1925 and 1926 volume have Vignettes of Life, and probably a fair number of covers that Godwin produced for the Sunday magazine section.  Vignettes of Life is well-known as a syndicated feature, and it appears that the covers of the magazine sections (and maybe other components, or possibly the whole magazine) were also syndicated.

The 1929, 1930, and 1931 volumes have Connie, and various covers by Godwin.  Since each bound volume has thirteen or so Sunday newspapers, the volumes have a total of (say) thirty-nine Connie Sunday strips. Life being what it is, I think that at least one of the comics sections is missing — not necessarily removed, but possibly omitted in the binding process.

It has been a while since I have looked at any of the foregoing.  The newspapers, for the most part, redefine “fragile,” and it is in essence impossible for me to look at them without causing damage — possibly not a lot of damage in any one viewing,  But any regular viewing would leave them a complete shambles.  The comics sections themselves are pretty well preserved, in part because they are smaller than the main part of the newspapers, and most of the severest damage to the papers appears to have taken place at the outside edges of the newspapers.

—Tom Sawyer

February 19, 2012

Revised March 2, 2012

Re-posted September 1, 2014


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Something you don’t see very often (like . . . never): Bound volumes of the Philadelphia “Pubic Ledger” with early examples of the “Connie” Sunday comic-strip . . .

I have five old bound volumes of the Philadelphia Public Ledger from back in the 1920s and 1930s.  I almost never look at them, because they are enormously heavy, hugely inconvenient, and gigantically fragile.  They practically fall apart from just my gaze falling on them.

Anyway, I hope to be moving soon, and in connection with that, I had four of the volumes “out” for the first time in about a year.  I moved them to a storage unit, but before I did that, I took a few pictures of one of them (the only one that is not wrapped up), because it is an interesting artifact, and it shows the various parts of the newspaper in a context that you never see them in anymore.

These are not designed to be read, nor are they displayed to show the art, or the specifics of anything.  The real purpose is just to show what the context of the Sunday Public Ledger comics section was, and generally how the strips appeared in that context.  Only the last two pictures below show Connie comic-strips.

The bound volume shown covers part of the second half of 1929 — Sunday papers only.  I’m not sure of the date span, but I think it is probably October through December.  That volume is shown on top of another volume that is wrapped up.

IMG_7324 Ledger blog

Here is a closer view:

IMG_7320 Ledger blog

Next is shown the volume open to the first page of a comics section.  To the left is a Sunday magazine-section on different paper-stock.  Notice that the comics are smaller (in format) than the magazine section, which in turn is smaller than the basic newspaper.  Nonetheless, the comics section is quite large, and a lot of the comic strips are full-page.  The first page here, though, is not a full page — it’s a Bringing Up Father strip, with a Rosie’s Beau topper.  I don’t know for certain, but I would guess that Bringing Up Father, being on the front page of the comics section, was considered the “lead” (most important or popular) strip.  It is further my supposition that Connie, on the last page of the section, was considered the second-most important strip.

IMG_7328 Ledger comics cropped

Next is shown an “interior” page (not necessarily from the same section).  On the left are Harold Teen and Smitty, and on the right is Hairbreadth Harry.  Harold Teen is basically in red (and black and white). Smitty is basically yellow (and black and white).  These are other examples of the limited-color strips that were pretty common in those days, and which I have discussed elsewhere on this blog.  Those are half-page format here.  The Hairbreadth Harry is an example of a strip that is full-page and full-color.

The fact that these strips are a certain format does not necessarily mean that was the only format for the strip at that time.

IMG_7333 Harold Smitty Hairbreadth 2

Next is a Connie, in full-page format, on the last page of the comics section.  One would often have no way of knowing where the Connie comic-strip was located, or anything about which other strips appeared with it, if it were not for artifacts such as this bound volume.  (I’m pretty sure the pages of this section were not numbered.) Then you see the front page of I think the following week’s Sunday paper.

IMG_7350 Ledger Yet Another Connie

Next, Connie from a different week.  You can see clearly the magazine section (larger format) beneath the Connie (and beneath the rest of the comics).  At the bottom of the page, in blue and white, is an advertisement for the daily Connie comic-strip.

IMG_7340 Ledger Connie cropped 2

In most of the foregoing pictures, you can see the ravages of time which in my experience is not unusual in newspapers of that vintage.  This is pronounced at the edges and folds.  The comics sections, as can be seen above, being somewhat smaller, are better preserved.  Some comics in those days were printed on high quality paper that still looks fresh even today.  Of course, a great deal depends upon the conditions of storage.

—Tom Sawyer

August 17, 2014

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A predecessor to Frank Godwin’s “Vignettes of Life” . . .

Frank Godwin’s Vignettes of Life was a tour de force, especially with respect to the art.  It was also a highly amusing feature, and it tends to prove the proposition that people do not really change.  People were the same in 1924 as they are today.

A long time ago, I located — on the internet — a Vignettes of Life from June 15, 1924.  That was the earliest one I knew of for certain.  I see that a certain website that has posts of a number of examples of the strip states that the first episode was June 1, 1924.  That makes sense to me.

The earliest one I have in my collection is July 20, 1924.  The strip was continued by others after Godwin left it; the final Godwin episode was in October 1927.  So, Godwin drew the strip for very close to three and one-half years.

Even though I started this post out thinking I would discuss a predecessor to Vignettes of Life, I am deferring that discussion.  But in the teens (maybe before or after as well), Godwin produced a very similar full-page feature for one of the humor magazines of the time.  I have maybe a dozen or so examples of that — nowhere near a complete group, I am sure.

–Tom Sawyer

May 19, 2014


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The red background is probably just temporary . . .

. . . till I put something else up.


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Frank Godwin and “The Farm Journal” . . .

Frank Godwin created at least two covers for The Farm Journal.  I seem to recall seeing at least one other one as well, but I could not locate such a thing just now.  The only one I have in my collection is the cover of the magazine for October 1919 — just the magazine, not the original art.  It portrays two boys, possibly vying for the affections of a girl who is also shown.

Farm Journal Oct 1919

The caption on the cover is “Country versus City Brawn,” and even the dog seems to see the humor in the city slicker trying to display his axe-wielding capabilities.

The 1919 date makes this a fairly early illustration by Godwin (who was 30 or so when he painted it), but his skill is evident, and certain components of this illustration were manifest in many of Godwin’s drawings in later years.  Examples would include his close attention to folds in clothing, as well as the three-dimensional effect achieved by (in this case) the exploitation of atmospheric perspective (with the trees in the background somewhat washed-out).

—Tom Sawyer

April 28, 2014


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