• Bert strings together some sketch jobs in NYC in 1905.

    Bert is back after a bit of a Spring vacation.

    Let’s pick up on 1905 He has been in the US just under a year. He wrote in a 1912 biographical piece how he struggled in New York to get work as a sketch artist.

    Lone Hand Feb 1912. Bio piece

    Siegel Cooper and Co.

    The NYC store had opened in 1896 so was only a decade in existence when Bert worked for them. He claims he got the sack as you have read above. The six-story Siegel-Cooper store was located at 616-632 Sixth Avenue between West 18th and 19th Streets, and was built between 1895 and 1897, then expanded in 1899.

    Weber and Fields Music hall took Bert on to do some sketch work around their new musical. Weber and Fields were both Polish Jewish immigrants to the USA. Their success, and the money made from their touring vaudeville shows, permitted them to open their own Broadway theatre, Weber and Fields Music Hall, in 1896. Here they are here-

    The Billy Rose Theatre Collection, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Read about their act here. https://www.musicals101.com/weberfields.htm
    29th & Broadway NYC
    Anna Held was the big star in Higgledy Piggledy.

    A fairly typical piece appeared on Anna in the Bulletin in 1911.

  • Goodbye Ginger Meggs..

    News Corp stopped printing comic strips, once a staple of the daily print newspapers, in all its newspapers on September 11.
    The Australian cartoonists who will lose their gigs are Jason Chatfield (Ginger Meggs), Gary Clark (Swamp), Tony Lopes (Insanity Streak) and Allan Salisbury (Snake Tales).

    100 year old Ginger Meggs strip which was started by Jim Bancks in 1921 will no longer be published.

    Read about Jim Bancks story on Wikipedia below…


    NOW BERT’S CONNECTION ? In 1929, Bert is Dean of the Cartoonist Club in California and hosts fellow Aussie Jim Bancks at the Breakfast Club at Long Beach where members of the Cartoonist Club have gathered.

    See below Melbourne Herald article…

    Bancks wrote a piece titled ‘Us Fellows in America’ describing the rather wild breakfast event of the Strip Cartoonists in California in the Home Magazine Vol. 10 on Sept 2 1929. It is quite a good read. Interesting it was about a week before the start of the Wall Street crash which eventually played out a month later.


    Click on the link above to read Banck’s description of the breakfast. He was astonished that the MC made 400 well dressed people in the room do exercises en masse before breakfast was served. Bancks was obviously not an early riser and possibly a stranger to exercise!!

    The current cartoonist and brains behind Ginger Meggs is Australian Jason Chatfield who is based in New York.

    You can watch the Sunrise story (yes, I know) on the Murdoch decision which includes interviews with Chatfield and Cathy Wilcox who is President of the Australian Cartoonist Association. Click here


    Good news is that Ginger Meggs will fight on…


  • Happy New Year

    “Shanah tovah” to you all. A day late but….

    Regular reader and first responder Howard sends his greetings to fellow readers of Bert Levy’s blog

    ‘Happy New Year to you and fellow conspirators. It is 5874 so keep on living a little longer. That year commences on 26/9/22 so honey cake for all of you.’

  • May 1905, Bert gets story in major American Jewish paper.

    The clip above is from the Hebrew Standard Australia published in Sydney. They obviously were sent Bert’s piece in the NYC Hebrew Standard.
    Unfortunately, I can’t get the sketch of Harriet & Alwyn any lighter. It is the only time Bert sketched them together that I have found to date. The story states they will join Bert shortly in the United States which they did.
    Interesting reference, that there are no ghettos in Australia.. and don’t forget to get your Passover Groceries at the Uptown store on 59th & 5th..
  • King sends condolences

    The Washington Post (Washington, District of Columbia) 07 Jul 1918, Sun Page 2

    Which King sent personal condolences to Bert & Harriet ?


    King George V, 1865-1936
    The grandson of Queen Victoria—and grandfather to Queen Elizabeth—George V was born third in the line of succession and did not expect to become king. That changed after his elder brother Prince Albert Victor died in 1892. George was also sometimes known as ‘Dirty Bertie’ !!

    You may recall, Bert had performed for the Royal family 9 years earlier in 1909 in London.

    Meanwhile back in the USA

    The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa) 19 May 1918, Sunday Page 20
  • Aussies in New York blizzard

    Unfortunately the photo is very dark, but it was published in PUNCH newspaper Australia in May 1905.. Well dressed and very interesting bunch of aussies and kiwis with Bert as you’ll see below.
    There are 8 people in the photo however, I feel the gent sitting on the snow is not in the party. Perhaps the driver ? Bert is second from the right..

    From Left to Right, they are –

    Messrs- Phil Bracy was a stage manager for J.C Williamson in early 1900s. No photo yet found.

    Arthur Goldie – seemed to have worked in theatre in Melbourne and later managed troupes in China (1909) No photo yet found.

    Cecil Ward – Third from left standing. He was an actor. Image below from 5 years earlier when he played in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.

    Later image below
    Falk Photo album on Theatre Heritage Australia wonderful website.. check it out https://www.theatreheritage.org.au/falk-album#n-z

    Robert Inman was a NZ born actor who had success in Australia. He played in companies led by Charles Holloway 1905–1907; William Anderson 1908–1916; and George Marlow 1909–1913.

    Robert Inman

    Inman acted in at least one film, The Kelly Gang (1920) as Aaron Sherritt.


    Harry Lempriere Pringle (c 1870- 1914), operatic bass who sang at Covent Garden, London and the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

    Born in Hobart, he studied there, then in the early 1890s with Amy Sherwin’s teacher, Julius Stockhausen, in Frankfurt. Pringle appeared at Covent Garden between 1897 and 1900 in many roles including The marriage of Figaro, Fidelio, Lucia di Lammermoor and much Wagner, with Jean De Reszke, Pol Plancon and Lilian Nordica. During these years he toured the USA, with Albani and Patti, singing at the ‘Met’.

    Returning to Australia in 1900, Pringle greatly impressed local critics and was a soloist at federation ceremonies in Melbourne, 1901. After 1902 he made several sound recordings, appearing in at least one film, The lure of London. In 1910 he created Massakroff in The chocolate soldier in London, where he died. Source: Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies.

    There is a Lempriere Pringle Trust Fund in the UK…. dispenses millions of dollars to charities each year…. struggling to establish whether this is the same Lempriere Pringle ?? not a common name you would think…

    Frank Arthur Nankivell (1869–1959) was an Australian artist and political cartoonist, known for his caricatures in publications such as Puck. Nankivell was born to John and Annie Nankivell in Maldon, northwest of CastlemaineVictoria in April, 1869. He was a book illustrator in New York circles of the 1910s and 1920s on such publications as Puck, which was America’s first successful humor magazine. Source: wikipedia

    Nankivell in 1890 (15 years before the 1905 group photo above)

    Nankivell studied art at Wesley CollegeMelbourne. He later travelled to Japan and earned a living as a cartoonist in Tokyo where he made the acquaintance of Rakuten Kitazawa, who later became father of the Japanese comic art now known as manga. Nankivell left Japan in 1894 to study art in San Francisco. He left for New York in 1896 where he worked on magazines as a popular and influential cartoonist devoting his work mainly to social subjects and to state and federal political issues. Nankivell later became a member of the New York Circumnavigators Club, which was open only to those who had circumnavigated the globe longitudinally, by land and/or sea. Other members included Ernest Hemingway and Harry Houdini.

    Several examples of his work are held in the collections of The Smithsonian in Washington DC. He was a large influence on the Japanese manga artist Rakuten Kitazawa.

  • Bert’s early work in the U.S attracts some local comment….

    Sunday Sun in Sydney.
    The Newsletter, An Australian Paper for Australian People (Sydney)
    World News, Sydney

    Bert falls back into some of his old satirical Bulletin style of sketches in early 1905 to make some money. This one published in New York Monthly magazine ‘The Judge’.

    Bert would have been merely a freelance contributor to ‘The Judge’ however, he probably struck up a close friendship with well known satirical sketch artist for ‘The Judge’ in James Montgomery Flagg. (will cover later)
    Jewish Herald Melbourne

    Kalgoorlie Sun
    An early reference to Bert’s brother in Kalgoorlie (he has 2 there) They started out as miners however, became successful bookmakers.
    The ‘Editor Archibald’ is a reference to the all powerful editor of the Bulletin and of course now probably remembered best for the ‘Archibald Art Prize’. J.F Archibald
  • Bert cracks Broadway Magazine February 1905

    Reverting to a familiar ‘byline’, Bert secures a major piece in a New York monthly magazine..including photos, sketches and an extensive written piece of his first impressions of the Jewish way of life in America in 1904/05. Broadway Magazine was an illustrated magazine covering New York theater and culture from the 1898.

    Here is his piece in full… 8 pages … enjoy.

    My favourite line in the piece –

    An Australian friend turned to me and remarked, as we gazed at the scene : “After all, that big Statue of Liberty out there in the bay does mean something more than empty sentiment, and the Russian Jew in particular should bless the American people in his prayers.”

  • Bert’s ‘La Boheme’ moment !!!

    Bert tells the Melbourne ‘Table Talk’ journo whose column was called the ‘The Interviewer’ the following account of his trip east in 1904..

    Having money in hand he travelled parlor-car, broke the journey here and there to go sightseeing, but had to stop at Chicago in order to obtain a little more work, and so raise funds for the rest of his journey‘.

    Chicago street scene early 1900s.

    No more information has been found on Bert’s short time in Chicago, however, he wrote a piece describing the ‘Chicago Jewish Ghetto’ * published in early 1905. (next post) * his description not mine…

    Bert seemed quite pleased to be able to say he arrived in New York flat broke.. The ‘La Boheme’ theme gets an airing by him quite a few times.. As you know from a prior post, he had befriended Puccini on the voyage from London to New York a year earlier in 1910, so no doubt it was a fresh in his mind.

    Quick account on the ‘La Boheme’ theme… (yes, I’ve had to look it up)

    Puccini’s opera, La Boheme was first performed in Turin in 1896. The story is set in Paris around 1830 and shows the Bohemian lifestyle (known in French as “la bohème“) of a poor seamstress and her artist friends. La bohème is based on Henri Murger‘s 1851 novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s. 

    Bert may have seen the opera when first performed in Melbourne in July 1901. He had just returned to Melbourne after 18 months in Bendigo. The Age newspaper previews the performance, no doubt taking in the ‘PR blurb’ given to them by the promoters.

    Bert must have been in the cheap seats or had a freebie as he doesn’t crack a mention as a VIP guest or having paid for an expensive seat as published by the ‘Arena’ publication a few days after the opening. Here is the ‘A Listers’ as they say in 1901.. totally irrelevant, I know.. but a few well known Melburnian names from 1901..

  • Bert’s arrival in New York.. 1904

    Bert’s accounts on his arrival into NYC tend to vary according to whether he is writing it himself or telling to it to a journo… Here, he recounts once version of his arrival in New York 7 years later in the Lone Hand Theatre Magazine. He does acknowledge at the end of this bio piece, he may have got a bit carried away. He most likely wrote the piece on board a ship on his trip home to Australia.

    So, Bert gets sacked again!!
    Siegel Cooper & Co. 6th Avenue NYC

    The typical sketch work Bert would have been doing can be seen Siegel Cooper & Co. advert below. Of course, you would be allowed to put your name or initials to any sketch in a commercial sketch artist role like this.

    The evening world. [volume] (New York, N.Y.), January 27, 1905, Evening Edition, Image 7

    If you click on the link above you may be able to read the whole paper…. if interested. The Free ‘Library of Congress’ LOC website holds many USA newspapers. Like Trove