The Search for "F S"

Comic Post Card Artist

and the London View Company

 

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Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, Herts

 

 

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

Karaktus

 

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

F S

 In fact the search turned out to be very complicated for two reasons. Many of the F S's cards were first published by a short-lived company, The London View Co. Ltd., and then republished - under various company names or none, often without a signature.

In addition there are arguments in the post card literature as to whether F S was Fred Stone of Fred Spurgin.

Chris Reynolds

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.

Topics

Who was "FS"

The Summer Girl (possible link with F Stone)

The Milkman

It is very Breezy (card with complex history)

"F S" cards in the PPCM

"F S" cards on ebay

 

F S groupings

Early Saxony

F S Comic Series

F S with LVC logo

To be classified

 

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"

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"

Leap Year: No Wedding Bells for Me - Probably "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 BirdProbably "F S"

Scottish Series

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

Take a Friend's Advice - Signed "F S"

The General Possibly"F S"

The Law - Signed "F S"

The Motorist.s Trials

Possibly "F S"

The Pleasure of Cycling- Signed "F S"

The Pleasures of Motoring Possibly"F S"

The Summer Girl - Signed "F S"

Tommy - Signed "F S"

Try and Forget It - Signed "F S"

Turkish - Signed "F S"

Watford Series

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"

Could these be by "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"

Brighton View Co

Corona

Crown Publishing Ltd "F S"

Davidson Bros  "F Stone"

East London Publishing "F S"

Ettlinger "F S"

Gale & Polden "F S"

Garner "F S"

Harwood

Hudson Brothers "F S"?

Klio Post Card Co

London View Co Ltd "F S"

Mandel "F S"

Modena

Moore & Dewdney

Morris Singer "F S"

Henry Moss "F Stone"

Regal Publishing Co "F S"

S & M, New York "F S"

A Q Southwick "F S"

Southwood

Souvenier Post Card Co "F S"

A & G Taylor

Valentine "F S"??

Vertigen "F S"

Woolstone Bros "F S"

 

Card Backs (Provisional list)

Early Saxony Group

(Late 1906-early 1907)

Inland Postage

Shield Logos

Late Saxony

Writing Space

Lined Address

Number (Serriff)

Number (other)

 

Selected Artists

Adam

Crombie

Karaktus

McGill

Macleod

Payne

Spurgin

Stone

Syllikuss

Wise

 

Selected Places

Brighton

Hastings

London

Southend on Sea

Watford

Other

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.

In the later part of 1906 a number of sets appeared representing soldiers, sailors, the law and the post, jobs, and housemaids. There was also a set on drink.

Continuing into early 1907 a number of sets carrying distinctive phrases appeared, such I Don't think, and Be Good,

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 in 1907 sets such as He would if he could and Try and forget it started to appear with the words F S Comic Series, with or without the publisher name London View Co Ltd.

Some, such as the Divorce set, appeared with a typeset LVC Ltd logo

In August 1907 the London View Co Ltd was wound up and what happened to "F S" cards becomes very complex. Unsold stock may have been sold off by companies such as Thridgould.

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.

Southwick also published another 5 sets (N15-N20), unsigned but in the "F S" style, and copyrighted 1908. These were Leap Year, Affinity, Saucy Little Bird, Dear Wifey and Dear Hubby.

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.

Karaktus Post Card No 3, Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, Herts, 1909

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.

Karaktus Post Card No 20, Crown Publishing Co., St Albans, Herts, 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.

A number of series were reprinted, unsigned, with a Lined address area, the earliest examples were in 1909. Theses included Advice to Girls at the Seaside, Down Here, Barmaids and The Summer Girl.

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.

In addition some publishers such as Vertigen, which had "F S" cards with Early Saxony backs in 1906/7 later published unsigned "F S" style cards.

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.