Friday, February 23, 2018

Karaktus, the mysterious St Albans comic artist, has finally been identified

"Karaktus" was a St Albans based comic artist whose pseudomym was presumably based on the Caractacus who ruled in Hertfordshire when the Roman arrived nearly 2000 years ago.

The cards were published by the very short-lived Crown Publishing Co of St Albans in 1908/9, together with some other unsigned cards, believed to be by him, which I have identified as being by an artist who signed many of his cards "F. S.," 

These were published by another short-lived company - The London View Co. Ltd, which I already knew because they had published a number of view cards of Watford.

But who was
"F. S." ?  

In the post card literature some people were saying hewas an artist called Fred Stone, who published some cards around 1905 while others argued that he was Fred Spurgin, whose name stared to appear on cards in 1910 and produced many in the First World War and the 1920s.

Trying to sort things out involved looking as thousands of card images and I set up a draft catalogue to record them, and my research notes - and put them online so that others could comment. Several weeks ago, based in part on information from past auction sales, I have come to agree with one of the relevant post card collectors that all the cards were produced by Fred Spurgin who worked using a number of names, starting with Fred Stone.

The research has provided a lot of information of how the post card industry worked in the early days of the 20th century - with many short-lived companies going out of business despite the overall boom in the number of cards being posted. Further postings on this subject are planned.

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