Thanks to the generous donation of Charles Rose, Class of 1950, P77, P80, Graphic Arts now holds 1429 zinc and aluminum printing plates for comic strips syndicated to American newspapers from the 1920s to the 1950s. The plates originated with Abraham Meyers, whose American Melody Company or Meyers List (newspapers knew the firm as International Cartoons or Empire Features) was founded in 1898.
At first a distributor of sheet music, Meyers transitioned to comic strips in the early 20th century. One package of zinc printing plates was shipped to each newspaper at the beginning of the month and then returned. There was no sequence or simultaneous publishing of comics in city papers around the country.
In 1934, the firm passed to J.R. Kramer and then, to Kramer’s son-in-law Charles Rose, who bought out the company in 1967. He and his wife ran the business until the Meyers List was dissolved on March 20, 1977.
In addition to the plates, record books for the business, various teaching materials, and several albums of published strips, Princeton received 86 original pen and ink drawings for cartoons by Camillus Kessler, an active but little documented cartoonist. Kessler published comics in the New York Globe and Advertiser, New York Evening Graphic, New York World, and other papers from around 1914 into the 1940s.
Firestone Library holds two compilations of Kessler’s work: At the Bottom of the Ladder (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1926). NC1320 .K44 and Twenty-Five Years Ago (New York: Coward-McCann, 1931). NC1320 .K45.
Most recognizable of the printing plates are the 652 zinc two and four panel plates of Just Kids drawn by New York cartoonist August Daniel “Ad” Carter (1895-1957). The strip began in the summer of 1923 and ended with Carter’s death in 1957.
Also included are 52 zinc printing plates for Betty’s Beanery by Samuel Maxwell “Jerry” Iger (1903-1990), who had a partnership with Will Eisner (1917-2005); 32 single cell zinc printing plates for The Debunder by John Henry Fudray; and 15 single cell electrotype plates for Miss Information drawn by Barnet Cohen.
There are 52 two cell zinc plates for Hospital Quips by Rube Weiss, who is also known for Have Fun!, Josh Billings Sez, and Live ‘n Laff; 8 plates for Things That Never by Gary Bryne; and 7 for That Little Gamer by Link.
201 five panel zinc plates are for the comic strip Huckleberry Finn by Dwig and 200 aluminotype plates for the six panel strip called Squire Edgegate by Louis Richard. The longest plates are for seven panel comic strips. There are 100 for Bull Run by Carl Ed, who historians known as the creator of Harold Teen, and 110 for Raising the Family a comic strip from the 1920s and 1930s by an artist only known as Fisher.
We would be grateful for more information on these artists.
Special thanks to Mike Siravo and John Walako for helping to move these very heavy printing plates.