The Search for "F S"
Comic Post Card Artist
and the London View Company
During my researches for the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site I discovered a small and short-lived St Albans Company - Crown Publishing Limited which published a number of unsigned comic card such as the one on the right in 1908/9.
The unnamed artist was joined by another who signed his cards
Some years ago I started to collect Karaktus cards and also those of the Crown Publishing Company but was unable to identify the artists. Then last year I discovered that there was an earlier "Crown Series" and many of these cards were signed
Having got rather depressed about Brexit and Donald Trump I needed a project which cheered me up - and one involving comic post cards seemed ideal.
In fact the search turned out to be very complicated. as many of F S's cards were first published by a another short-lived company, The London View Co. Ltd., and then republished - often without a signature.
My Working Catalogue
The complex research described below involved following up leads (and blind alleys) to many publishers and many post cards which were unsigned and/or carried no publisher information. In carrying out this work I set up a dynamic network of pages covering different artists, card back formats, publishers and series of cards. This was used to guide the research and decide which cards to purchase. The research has now reached a stage where it seems appropriate to actively exchange information with other people and I have decided to put my draft catalogue online. However many of the pages only contain incomplete notes - and to avoid delay I am initially labelling such pages with a "Men at Work" logo to indicate I have more information to add. This logo will be removed as I work through the pages tidying them up.
Since writing the following notes Ken Dickinson has kindly sent me a copy of the article he wrote with Ted Marks on "Fred Spurgin's Early postcards" published in the Picture Postcard Annual, 2015. He has also provided some further information on some specific topics. This will mean some changes - as the article argues that F Stone was an alias of Fred Spurgin.
The London View Company appears to have started publishing cards in 1905 and in the first year it published view cards of London and a number of seaside and other towns, mainly in the south of England, including Brighton, Hastings and Southend on Sea.
The Summer Girl (possible link with F Stone)
It is very Breezy (card with complex history)
Draft List of Sets
Advice to ... about to get married - Signed "F S"
Advice to Fellows at the Seaside
Advice to Girls at the Seaside - Signed "F S"
Advice to Men in Love - Probably "F S"
Affinity - Probably "F S"
At Last - Alone - Similar to "F S"
Barmaids - Signed "F S"
Be Good - Signed "F S"
Birthday Greetings - Signed "F S"
Breach of Promise Series - Unsigned "F S"
British Workman - Might be "F S"?
Crown Series (1) - Signed "F S"
Crown Series (2) - Probably "F S"
Crown Series (3) - Probably "F S"
Dear Hubby - Probably "F S"
Dear Wifey - Probably "F S"
Divorce - Signed "F S"
Down Here - Signed "F S"
Drink - Signed "F S"
Every Picture tells a story - Signed "F S"
Father is a Handy Man - Perhaps "F S"
Fire - Signed "F S"
F S Comic Series - Multiple Sets
Girls I didn't Marry - Similar to "F S"
Hair - Signed "F S"
Harem - [Fred Spurgin]
He Would if He Could - Signed "F S"
Hints on Dress - Signed "F S"
Honeymoon - Signed "F S"
Housemaids - Signed "F S"
I Don't Think - Signed "F S"
Jobs - Signed "F S"
Kiss me under the Misletoe - Signed "F S"
Lucky - Signed "F S"
Milton Series - "F S"
Mistakes Will Occur - "F S"
Mother's Trials - Perhaps "F S"
Nxx Series (USA) - Multiple sets
New Leaf - Signed "F S"
Not a Word to the Wife - Signed "F S"
Novelty Pullout - Signed "F S"
Oh! Did He - Signed "F S"
Old Master Series - [LVC]
On the Cliffs - Similar to "F S"
Our Navy - Similar to "F S"
Pa's Holiday at Brighton - Signed "F S"
Pa's Holiday at Hastings - Signed "F S"
Pa's Holiday at Southend - Signed "F S"
Popular Series - Multiple Sets
Post - Signed "F S"
Puzzle - Signed "F S"
Sailor Jack - Signed "F S"
Saucy Little Bird - Probably "F S"
Seaside (1906) - Signed "F S"
Selwell Series - Multiple Sets
Soldiers - Signed "F S"
Shop & Office Workers - Signed "F S"
Song Titles Illustrated - Perhaps "F S"
Spring Cleaning - Similar to "F S"
Start Off Series - Probably Fred Stone
The Pleasure of Cycling- Signed "F S"
The Summer Girl - Signed "F S"
Take a Friend's Advice - Signed "F S"
The Law - Signed "F S"
Tommy - Signed "F S"
Try and Forget It - Signed "F S"
Turkish - Signed "F S"
When at the Seaside - Signed "F S"
When you wish - Signed "F S"
Where there is a Woman - Signed "F S"
Who said Liar - Signed "F S"
Xmas Cards with Border - Signed "F S"
Xmas Cards with Holly Box - Signed "F S"
Draft List of Publishers
Argal "F S"
Art & Humour "F Spurgin"
Asher "F S"
Beagles "F S"
[Bee Logo] "F S
Blum & Degan "F S"
Crown Publishing Ltd "F S"
Davidson Bros "F Stone"
East London Publishing "F S"
Ettlinger "F S"
Gale & Polden "F S"
Garner "F S"
Hudson Brothers "F S"?
London View Co Ltd "F S"
Mandel "F S"
Morris Singer "F S"
Henry Moss "F Stone"
Regal Publishing Co "F S"
S & M, New York "F S"
A Q Southwick "F S"
Souvenier Post Card Co "F S"
Valentine "F S"??
Vertigen "F S"
Woolstone Bros "F S"
Card Backs (Provisional list)
(Late 1906-early 1907)
They also published a wide variety of other cards including a Christmas card with a sliding message and even discrete nudes.
Many of the cards were printed by the same unnamed firm in Saxony and it is possible that the company was a wholesaler acting as the British agent of this printer.
At about the same time an artist signing himself "F S" or "F Stone" switched from producing cards for Henry Moss (who ceased publishing cards in 1905) to Gale & Polden. It is claimed by some that Fred Stone is the "F S" described below.
Early in 1906 the company became a limited company and at about the same time comic cards signed "F S" started to appear. At least three sets of "Pa's Holiday" were linked to specific seaside towns (Brighton, Hastings & Southend) but some seaside cards were more general.
Cards of this period were printed in Saxony and often appear with no publisher name, with the name of the London View Co Ltd, or one of a number of other postcard publishers such as Blum & Degan, Gale & Polden, and H Garner
Some of these companies were specialist post card publishers and the "F S" cards were their earliest comic cards, Several went on to publish unsigned sets in an "F S" style such as The British Workman by H Vertigen & Co and Father is a Handy Man by J W Asher & Co
Later many cards were reprinted with no signature - with several different backs and as a result there are uncertainties over the dating. In addition hs could have produced new unsigned cards.
One card (not "F S") has been found by the London View Co with post 1906 back posted in Dec 1907. This suggests that there was limited trading for a few months after the Ltd company closed.
At the end of 1907 or early 1908 several UK sets such as Who Said Liar, Take a Friend's Advice and Mistakes will occur were published in the USA, sometimes with the wording Americanised. Several publishers were involved.
The UK sets republished by Southwick were numbered N10-N13 and were unsigned.
It should be noted that Southwick was a short lived New York company only operating in 1907/8.
It seems the "Crown Series" (1) cards of cards probably appeared in 1908, although dating is difficult because most copies are later reprints. Some cards are earlier "F S" cards while others, such as Shop & office workers, and Hints on Dress could be sets in preparation when the London View Co Ltd closed down.
It seems that the Crown Publishing Co Ltd was established in St Albans (by "F S"?) at the end of 1908 and may have lasted less than a year. Some of the cards in the continuing "Crown Series" (2) form part of the Advice to Men in Love Series] set.
The Crown Publishing Co Ltd also published 30 cards by an unknown and distinctive artist "Karaktus" in the first half of 1909,
It may be a coincidence but another unidentified artist, Syllikuss, started producing somewhat similar distinctive cards in Blackpool in the second half or 1909.
The later cards in the "Crown Series" (3) have a distinctive border. Only a few different cards seem to have been published, and no later reprints of these cards have been found.
In 1910 Fred Spurgin started to publish cards. He signed two of the early sets with a decorative "F S", possibly to distinguish himself from the "F S" described here. However virtually his very many later cards were signed with is full name.
Some people claim he was the real "F S" but I don't consider this very likely
Many earlier sets, and some unsigned "F S" like cards, were published with a "writing space" back, similar to that "F S Comic Series" back, but with the words "Printed in Germany" instead of the publisher or series name.
In around 1912 an unknown publishers produced cards with a very simple backs and a 3 digit serial number. While most of the cards are unsigned and clearly relate to different artists several sequences consist of "F S" pictures.
More work is needed to sort these out.
|One problem is that there are many other unsigned cards that might be by "F S." The card on the left was published by Hutson Brothers and the one to the right by Valentines.|
Can You Help?
The more complete this catalogue is the more useful it will be for everyone researching early 20th century comic post cards. Remember that it is not just the picture that is of interest - variant backs - different publishers or series names and earliest posting dates help to fill in details of the story. Contact me (with "F S" in the message title) if you can help.
If you want to send an image (JPG only) my small images are 250 pixels wide, and large images 1024 pixels.