Monday, October 31, 2022

Monday, October 17, 2022

Creator: Percy Grassby, Designer, Engraver and Calligrapher


Percy Alfred Elisha Grassby was born on July 12, 1882, in Dunstable, [Bedfordshire], England. His full name was transcribed in the Manitoba, Marriage Index, 1881–1937 at Ancestry.com. Grassby’s birth information was on his World War II draft card. 

On May 19, 1902, Grassby was aboard the ship Numidian when it sailed from Liverpool, England and arrived in Montreal, Canada. His occupation was artisan. 


Grassby was counted in the 1906 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta which was enumerated beginning June 24, 1906. The surname was misspelled “Grasby”. Grassby was in his older brother’s household; Arthur was married and had a daughter. The census said Grassby immigrated in 1903 but it was 1902. 


On August 3, 1906, Grassby married Lillian May Strong in Deloraine, Manitoba, Canada


Ancestry.com has an Index to Alien Case Files. Grassby crossed the Canadian border into the U. S. on September 20, 1906. The port of entry was not recorded. 

Grassby’s first child was born on November 13, 1906 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (The Social Security Death Index said she was born May 24, 1906.) In the U.S. censuses, her name was Florence and sometime later she was known as Fiona.

Minnesota Prints and Printmakers, 1900–1945 (2009) profiled Grassby and said 
… He left Canada by 1907 for Grand Rapids, Michigan, but paused in Minnesota for a few years. In 1909 he produced a set of eleven etchings and one drypoint of Twin Cities scenes, mostly of the area around Theodore Wirth Park, Bassett Creek, and the lake known at the time as Keegan’s Lake (today, Theodore Wirth Lake). …
The Twentieth Annual Report of the Minneapolis Public Library for the Year Ending December 31, 1909 (1910) said “We purchased this year a set of etchings done by Mr. Percy Grassby, a Minneapolis etcher”. 

By 1911, Grassby was a Grand Rapids, Michigan resident. In the 1911 city directory Grassby lived at 328 Turner and was a designer at the James Bayne Company. (James A. Bayne was the president of the company of commercial photographers, engravers and printers, located at 378–384 North Front). The 1912 directory listed Grassby at 105 Ann NE and employed at the James Bayne company. He was not in the 1913 directory, but the American Art Annual Volume 10 (1913) had this entry: “Grassby, Percy, 167 Anne St., Grand Rapids, Mich. (P.)” 

In 1912 Grassby went through Canada to sail to England. A passenger list said Grassby was a designer who departed Montreal and arrived in Liverpool, England on August 11, 1912. The date of his return to Canada is not known. 


Grassby and his wife filled out immigration cards on November 30, 1914 at Newport, Vermont. Grassby said he visited Boston, Massachusetts from October 3, 1913 to October 19, 1913. 


The December 1914 passenger list included Grassby and his wife on lines five and six. Their destination was Boston. 



Grassby’s work was featured in the article, “Notes on Some Canadian Etchers”, in The Studio, January 15, 1915 and  International Studio, February 1915. 
The work of Mr. Precy [sic] Grassby is as yet not well known in Canada. Although by birth an old-countryman, he has made Canada his home. His work is more unusual than any of the others of this group, as may be seen by the reproductions. Indeed, it has a delightfully medieval flavour, the same as is imparted by an antique bit of porcelain or tapestry. But its chief charm is its distinctiveness. Even an unskilled eye could pick it out from among many others, and, good or bad, that always is a point in its favour. Should he remain in Canada and exhibit freely, his work is likely to have an influence on etching in the Dominion.
The Printing Art, March 1915, published six pages of Grassby’s wood engravings. 







The New York Tribune, November 8, 1915, reported the American Institute of Graphic Arts exhibition of engravings. 
Famous Prints in Art Exhibit
Engravings on Display at Club Attracting Much Attention. 

The exhibition of American wood engraving, under the auspices of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, which opened on Wednesday last at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park, for ten days, is attracting much attention by reason of the variety and importance of the prints shown. ...

... Fourteen of Rudolph’s Ruzicka’s pictures, a series of views of New York streets, are shown by permission of the Grolier Club, of this city, and his Fountains of Paul Rome are shown by permission of Mrs. Charles MacVeagh. The individual engravers exhibiting are Herbert M. Baer, Frederick T. Chapman, William Baxter Closson, Timothy Cole, Elizabeth Colwell, Arthur W. Dow, Percy Grassby, Edna Boies Hopkins, Mrs. W. M. Ivins, jr., Allen Lewis, Howard McCormick, V. Preissig, Stephen G. Putnam, Rudolph Ruzicka, William G. Watt and Henry Wolf. ...
Grassby’s decoration was reproduced in The Printing Art, December 1915. 

The 1916 Boston city directory said Grassby, a designer, resided in Waverley and occupied room 25 at 26 Lime Street. Grassby was also listed in the business directory. The tenants of 26 Lime Street included artists, designers, illustrators, jewelry manufactures, metal workers, sculptors, and silversmiths. One notable person was W.A. Dwiggins. The 1917 Boston directory said Grassby resided in Lexington. The 1922 Lexington directory said he lived on Concord near Waltham. 

The Inland Printer, June 1916, reproduced Grassby’s stationery for J. J. Birmingham. 



The Printing Art, August 1917, showed Grassby’s design for the Japan Paper Company of New York.

On April 12, 1918, Grassby signed his World War I draft card. His address was Concord Avenue in Lexington, Massachusetts. The typographic designer was described as slender, medium build with brown hair and gray eyes. 


Grassby was mentioned in Arts & Decoration, August 1919. 

The 1920 United States Census counted Grassby, his wife, daughter, Florence, and son, George (1915–1982), in Lexington on Concord Avenue. Grassby was a self-employed designer working in the printing trade.

Grassby’s wife and children were on the following sheet.

Grassby’s portrait of Benjamin Franklin for a calendar was shown in The American Printer, March 5, 1920. 

The American Printer, June 5, 1920, article, “American Typography at Its Best”, cited two works by Grassby: “One Hundred Years of progress,” a booklet designed byPercy Grassby, illustrated by F. Crouse and printed by the Caxton Press, Cleveland; … “Design and Layout,” by Percy Grassby and the Franklin Printing Company; … 

Grassby was mentioned in Arts & Decoration, August 1921, and Scribner’s Magazine, November 1921. Three Grassby engravings were included in the Annual of Advertising Art in the United States 1921: Etched Portrait, Wood Engraved Portrait and Benjamin Franklin

The New York Herald, May 28, 1922, said Grassby had a woodcut in New York Public Library exhibition. 

Art News, December 15, 1923, covered the Brooklyn Society of Etchers exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Grassby’s work was noted. 

Grassby was mentioned in American Graphic Art (1924). 
The mention of posters recalls other uses to which the wood-block has been put. Book-plates form an interesting specialty, cultivated by Ruzicka, George W. Plank, A. Allen Lewis, and W. F. Hopson, the art of the last-named long since clarified into a sure and calm taste and craftsmanship. Holiday cards for individuals embody happy conceits by Ruzicka, Lewis, and F. T. Chapman, and the art has been felicitously applied to commercial purposes by Murphy, Chapman, Percy A. Grassby, Ruzicka, and C. B. Falls.
The Boston Herald, November 18, 1928, reported the fire at Grassby’s studio.


In 1930, Grassby had two more children, Dorothy (1921–2019) and Roger (1926–2012). Florence was an artist. The family’s address was unchanged. 


The Goodspeed’s Book Shop advertisement appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 1930. 


According to the 1940 census, Grassby, his wife and two youngest children were Lexington residents at 311 Concord Avenue. Grassby’s home was valued at $7,000. 


Grassby signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. His home address was 11 1/2 Revere Street, in Boston. Grassby’s studio was at 21 Hale Street. Grassby’s description was five feet six inches, 145 pounds, with gray eyes and hair. 


The Boston directories from 1942 to 1957 said Grassby’s address was 11 1/2 Revere Street. True List of Persons Seventeen Years of Age or Older Residing in the Town of Arlington, Massachusetts, January 1, 1958, listed Grassby, his wife and son at 31 Dartmouth Street. 

Grassby was included in Paul Standard’s book, Calligraphy’s Flowering, Decay & Restoration: With Hints for Its Wider Use Today (1947). 
Up Boston way, besides Dwiggins, one should mention Percy Grassby, who is better known for his woodengraved portraits and landscapes. But like a good master, Grassby is also a spirited calligraphic engraver in all styles.
Grassby’s wife, Lillian, passed away February 11, 1965. At some point Grassby moved to New York state to be close to his daughter Fiona Sinclair, an artist and instructor in Ossining. The Daily News, (Tarrytown, New York), May 1, 1952, profiled her.
… Mrs. Sinclair is the daughter of Percy Alfred Grassby, internationally known engraver, etcher and illustrator. She studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, at Columbia University, at Slades [Slade School of Fine Art] in London and portraiture under F. Bosely. Her paintings have been exhibited at the St. Botolph Club in Boston, at the Jackson Galleries in Jackson, Mississippi; at Chatham Hall in Chatham, Virginia at Cooperstown, New York; and at the Junior Service League here at Tarrytown. Mrs. Sinclair has been in the teaching field for 15 years. She is presently Art Director at the New York School the Deaf In White Plains. She is well recognized in the water color field as well as in landscapes and in gouache. She maintains a studio in Ossining and specializes in pastel portraits of the younger set. She is considered by critics outstanding in her Americana studies.
The Evening News (Beacon, New York), August 1, 1972, wrote about Fiona Grassby Banta’s (formerly Sinclair) students exhibition. 
Watercolors Displayed
Poughkeepsie—The dining room at St. Francis Hopsital will feature an exhibit of watercolors by students of the Studio School of Art during August. 

The Director, Fiona Grassby Banta, a well-known aquarellist, opened her studio to teach aspiring students watercolors in all forms. Mrs Banta has studied in America and England and hat recently returned from a painting trip along California and Mexican coast in preparation for several one-man shows this coming winter and spring.

The Studio School of Art is located on Diddell Rood in Wappingers Falls. The exhibit at St. Francis will include works of both junior and adult classes. 
Grassby passed away on August 30, 1973, in Poughkeepsie, New York. The Social Security Death Index said his last residence was Millbrook, New York. The following day an obituary appeared in the Boston Globe
Grassby—In Poughkeepsie, N.Y., formerly of Lexington, Aug. 30, Percy A., beloved husband of the late Lillian M. (Strong) Grassby; father of George K. and Roger A. of Marlboro, Mrs. Edward Banter [sic] of Wappingers Falls, New York, Mrs. William Dwyer of Puyallup, Washington. Private services in the Walsh Funeral Home, 20 High St., Waltham, at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers donations should be made to the Heart Fund, Beacon St., Boston, Mass.
Grassby was laid to rest at the Newton Cemetery. 

The Poughkeepsie Journal, April 9, 1987, published Fiona’s obituary. She passed away on April 4 and was laid to rest at Newton Cemetery. (The Social Security Death Index said she died June 1, 1985.)


(Updated November 7, 2022. Next post on Monday: Comic Book Trademarks, Part 14)

Monday, October 10, 2022

Comics: Leroy Lettering, Robert N. MacLeod, Lou Cameron and His Wife, Phil


The Keuffel & Esser Company invented a mechanical lettering tool called Leroy. The date of the invention is unclear. The History of Cartography, Volume 6: Cartography in the Twentieth Century (2015) claimed the Leroy lettering template was patented in 1919. However, such a lettering tool was not found in Keuffel & Esser’s 1921 product catalog

In 1926, two publications mentioned the “Leroy Lettering Pen”. Telephony, July 3, 1926, printed the article, “Use of Graphics in Accounting Work”, and said 
... The main mechanical appliance is the lettering template, which is rather simple in design and very easy to use; the lettering in all the charts shown is executed by the use of these templates and a special called the “Leroy Lettering Pen” which is adapted for use with these templates. It might not be amiss to mention here that these templates and pens are also being used quite extensively in regular draughting offices, for the reason that a more uniform size and style of letter can be constructed with their aid than can be accomplished by hand. …
Industrial-Arts Magazine, December 1926, published a classified advertisement. 
Divider Compasses—$10.00 per dozen. The very best for school work. Edgar Bourquin, 1353 Main Street, Waltham, Mass. Manufacturers of Leroy Lettering Pens.
Keuffel & Esser had offices in Hoboken, New Jersey and Montreal, Canada, which required filing copyrights and trademarks in both locations. The Canadian Patent Office Record and Register of Copyrights and Trade Marks, September 19, 1933, had this entry for Leroy. 
N.S. 640. Keuffel & Esser Co. N.J., a Corporation of New Jersey, Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.A., and Montreal, Quebec. Word: “Leroy.“ Wares: Lettering Sets, Lettering Templates, Lettering Pens, Lettering Scribers, Lettering Styli and Lettering Pencil Holders. Date of first use: March 1st, 1926. Date of registration: February 27th, 1933.
The first use date of Leroy in Canada was 1926. 

The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, September 4, 1934, had this entry for Leroy. 


The first use date of Leroy was 1932 and the trademark was granted in 1934. 

The Leroy lettering tool was described as an adjustable scriber in a patent filing published in the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, August 13, 1935. 


In the comic book industry, Leroy lettering was used by a number of publishers, notably M.C. and William Gaines’ EC Comics. The mechanical lettering was done by Jim and Margaret Wroten who had many comics clients. Another business that did Leroy lettering was operated by Robert N. MacLeod. 

Robert Nolte “Bob” Macleod was born on September 25, 1921, in Jersey City, New Jersey, according to his World War II draft card. His Social Security application, at Ancestry.com, said his parents were Everett H. MacLeod and Gertrude B. Nolte. 

In the 1930 U.S. Census, MacLeod and his parents were Bogota, New Jersey residents on River Road. His father was a carpenter at a theater. 


MacLeod’s father passed away in 1933. An obituary appeared in Hackensack Record, New Jersey, July 29, 1933. 

MacLeod’s mother remarried. The 1940 census said MacLeod, his mother and stepfather, Samuel J. Lothian, lived in the Bronx, New York, at 238 West 238th Street. 


On February 16, 1942, MacLeod signed his World War II draft card. His address was 61 Gautier Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey. At a later date, his address was updated to General Delivery, Kingman, Arizona. MacLeod was employed at the Western Electric Company in Kearney New Jersey. He was described as five feet eight inches, 170 pounds, with brown eyes and hair. 


MacLeod enlisted on June 16, 1942, in Newark, New Jersey. He was stationed in Kingman, Arizona where he married Josephine Garrison on February 2, 1943. 


MacLeod was with the Air Force at the Las Vegas Gunnery School in Nevada. Hospital records at Ancestry.com said he was treated for heat exhaustion (July 1945) and stomatitis (September 1945). MacLeod’s Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File said he was discharged on October 21, 1945. 

MacLeod was not yet been found in the 1950 census. By the early 1950s he had a graphic arts studio in Manhattan, New York City.  (It’s a mystery when his interest in commercial art started.) The 1953 Manhattan city directory listed MacLeod at 65 West 45th Street. MacLeod advertised in Art Direction, June 1954. 


Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History, Second Edition (2011) said 
… In 1953, Ace and Gilberton both used the Bob MacLeod studio for Leroy-lettering penciled pages. Meyer A. Kaplan, managing editor of Classics Illustrated, recruited [Lou] Cameron and Lin Streeter to freelance for the series. ...
In Alter Ego, #106, December 2011, Jim Amash interviewed Tony Tallarico who said 
At one point, [Billy] Friedman was no longer using letterers. We were going to Bob McLeod’s [sic] studio. He was doing LeRoy lettering and Lou hung out there. That’s where I usually saw him. We had to go to McLeod’s to pick up our work after he lettered it. I was doing some advertising work, too, and McLeod did paste-up lettering for me. I don’t remember much about my conversations with Lou, but I remember he was going out with a very young girl. I don’t know what happened, but McLeod, I think, was very upset about this. [Note: Lou married this woman, and subsequently divorced her, though they had children together. —Jim.] Lou was a very funny guy, but I really had very little to do with him because we didn’t spend much time together.

Bob McLeod was a straight guy. He and his wife were very nice people. She was a singer at Radio City Music Hall. I was really just in and out of there. The “in” was one thing, but getting out was something else, because he was a talker.
Who’s Who in Finance and Industry (1971) included a profile of Phil (Phyllis) Cameron who was the 1941 Brooklyn-born daughter of Frederick Louis Zuber and Johannah Franz. From 1957 to 1958 Phil worked part-time at MacLeod’s studio where she met Cameron. She was Cameron’s personal editor and secretary from 1958 to 1967. They had two daughters, in the mid-1960s, but did not marry until 1966 in Brooklyn. “Louis Cameron” and “Joan P. Zuber” obtained a Brooklyn marriage license, number 6820, on June 16, 1966. They divorced in 1967 and Phil, again, found a job with MacLeod. 

The 1959 and 1960 Manhattan directory listings said “Robert N Macleod Inc 30 E 20 GRmrcy 7-4540”. Soon, MacLeod entered the field of publishing. Collecting Model Car and Truck Kits (2001) said
… Arguably the first and best of the original generation of model car magazines, Car Model magazine began in 1962 as an effort of Auto World owner Bob Koveleski and his business partner Robert MacLeod. ...
The debut issue of Car Model was dated July-August 1962. MacLeod was co-publisher with A.M. Koveleski. The office address was 30 East 20th Street which was Robert N. MacLeod Inc. With the April 1967 issue, “Phyllis Cameron” (divorced in 1967) was the art editor of the magazine. The September 1967 issue said she was the art director. Phil was editor beginning with the September 1968 issue. She wrote about herself in January 1969
I’m Phil Cameron, originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., but now an expatriot living in New Jersey. I’ve been in and around the publishing field in various capacities for eleven years. Since CM Publisher Bob MacLeod gave me my first job in this field, my last two years with CM, first as Art Director and now editor, have been sort of like the return of the native. …
Her last issue was July 1971. Phil probably quit because the magazine moved from New Jersey to Phoenix, Arizona according to the indicia in the September 1971 issue. (I believe she is alive and well as Joan Phyllis Brannen, in Florida.) MacLeod oversaw the final issue of Car Model dated April 1973. 

MacLeod passed away on January 8, 1984, in Phoenix. An obituary appeared in the Arizona Republic, January 10, 1984. 
Robert Nolte MacLeod, 62, a graphics artist for Central Graphics, died Jan. 8, 1984, at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. Mr. MacLeod, of 6802 N. 17th Ave., moved to Arizona in 1961 [sic] from his native New Jersey. He served in the Air Force in World War II. Survivors include his wife, Louise; daughter, Robin Alsberg; and three grandchildren. Private services were arranged by Brown’s Maricopa Mortuary, Phoenix.
(MacLeod should not to be confused with Robert Parker “Bob” MacLeod or Robert Thomas “Bob” McLeod.)




Monday, October 3, 2022

Comics: Chuck Cuidera, from 1915 to 1952, and Blackhawk


Charles Nicholas “Chuck” Cuidera was born on September 23, 1915, in Newark, New Jersey, according to his World War II draft card. Cuidera’s Social Security application said his parents were Leonard Cuidera and Lena Bruzzo. 

Cuidera’s father, a barber, signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His address was 48 Warwick Street in Newark. The same address was recorded in the 1920 (below), 1930, 1940 and 1950 United States Censuses. In 1920 Cuidera was the fourth of five children; in 1930 he was the fourth of six siblings. 


After graduating high school, Cuidera studied illustration at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 22, 1939, reported on his class. 
Pratt Art School to Graduate 26
Twenty-six students will be graduated from the mid-year class of the Pratt Institute School of Fine and Applied Arts in Brooklyn at the conclusion of the present term next Friday. A tea in their honor will  be given by members of the faculty at the school on Wednesday afternoon. James C. Boudreau, director of the school, will speak. Those receiving certificates of graduation will be: 

Pictorial Illustration
… Charles Nicholas Cuidera, Newark, N. J.

The 1940 census said Cuidera was an artist in the magazine design trade. He earned $160 working eight weeks in 1939. 


On October 16, 1940, Cuidera signed his World War II draft card. He was working for the comics company, Fox Features. Cuidera was described as five feet eight-and-a-half inches, 156 pounds, with brown eyes and hair. 


Cuidera drew the first Blackhawk story which appeared in Military Comics #1, August 1941. 

Cuidera enlisted in the Army on February 18, 1942. 

Sometime in the 1940s, Cuidera married. The 1950 census recorded cartoonist Cuidera, his wife, a daughter and son in Newark, New Jersey at 48 Warwick Street. His family lived on the second floor. Two of his siblings were on the first. 


At different times, Cuidera and Reed Crandall were the artists on Blackhawk which was adapted into a serial by Columbia. The Blackhawk serial was promoted in several trade magazines including The Exhibitor, May–July 1952; Motion Picture Daily, July 11, 1952; Motion Picture Herald, August 2, 1952; and The Exhibitor, August–October 1952. Crandall and Cuidera were credited in the advertisements. Both were mentioned in the book, In the Nick of Time: Motion Picture Sound Serials (1984). 



Mark Evanier wrote about Blackhawk on his website, News from ME. 


Further Reading
Alter Ego, #34, March 2004, “I Created Blackhawk”, Chuck Cuidera interview
Wikipedia, Charles Nicholas and Blackhawk
Comics Buyer’s Guide, September 21, 2001, Remembering Chuck Cuidera
The Comics Journal, October 2001, Blackhawks Creator Chuck Cuidera Dies at 86
Science Fiction Chronicle, December 2001, obituary