Sunday, August 23, 2009

Charles Twelvetrees - Man of Mystery!


To My Valentine.

2 1/4" x 3 1/8"
circa 1920s
flat
by Charles Twelvetrees
made in Germany
The same image can be found in larger sizes with mechanical action on the squirrel - so he pops up out of the snowdrift. 

Rubber? No - Just looking for my valentine.

6 1/2" x 4 3/4"
circa 1920s
Mechanical Flat
made in Germany

You're guilty, the Judge and Jury say, But I can't be convicted on St. Valentine's Day.

signed Charles Twelvetrees
3 1/2" x 5">
circa 1910s, 1920s


If you're scared of my little pal How do you expect to be my gal?

attributed to Charles Twelvetrees
features rosy cheeked child and dog winking
Made in USA


Everything will be quite DUCKY, And I'll consider myself so LUCKY If you will be - My Valentine!

7 3/4" x 4 3/4"
CT mark indicating
artist is Charles Twelvetrees
with paper puff/honeycomb
Made in USA




no text

8" x 4 1/4"
CT mark indicating
artist is Charles Twelvetrees

 This set of quinPUPlets
On your doorstep I'm parking
Better tell them you're mine
Or you'll hear plenty BARKING!
Be my Valentine

Signed CT
Child and Basket of Puppies
8" x 4 3/4"
circa 1940s
made in USA




To my Valentine
Tell me that you love me true
And I'll turn somersaults for you.

5 1/4" x 4" (closed)
dated 1940
made in USA
no artist mark
attributed to C Twelvetrees
Lov-O-Gram series

Charles Twelvetrees is a somewhat elusive character. There is a Charles R. (or perhaps there isn't as there is some debate to whether a Charles R. actually existed) and a Charles H. Twelvetrees (1888-1948) who were alleged by some to be father and son. They may have worked together or may not have even if both did indeed exist. 

There are cards signed with a CT mark, others that say C Twelvetrees, CH Twelvetrees, or just C. There are also many to be found that are unsigned. Earlier images (like the postcards) could be the work of Charles H. (who was known to be the illustrator of newspaper comics like Prince Domino and Muffles from 1910 and Johnny Quack and the Van Cluck Sisters from 1909-1911) with the magazine illustrations and later cards being the work of Charles R. 

We can absolutely be certain of the existence of Charles H. Twelvetrees and many works bear a signature indicating Charles or C. H. Twelvetrees as the specific creator. I know of no cards or other artwork indicating a Charles R. Twelvetrees specifically as the artist, although I have read claims of some work by Charles H. being mistakenly credited as by Charles R. by some unspecified publisher. If true, this may be the origin of a non-existent Charles R.

In fact, I have become fairly certain that this Charles R. probably never existed. A Charles Henry Twelvetrees appears to have lived in Brooklyn at the time of the 1940 census. He is listed there as married, with the age given as 67 (indicating a birth of 1872/73). This fits with info giving a birth date of July 29, 1872. Quixotically, in the 1920s census a Charles H Twelvetrees is listed as 37 (birth year then about 1883). That same census lists a Henry Twelvetrees as 73 years old (birth 1847) with a spouse, Eliza at age 65 (birth year 1855). These are likely the parents of Charles H. 

An obituary for an Anna Twelvetrees appears in the January 4, 1903 edition of the New York Times. Her death is stated as December 26 with a residence given of 223 West 83rd St, husband listed as Charles H. It is likely that Anna and Charles were the parents of Clark Twelvetrees who was the first husband of actress Helen Twelvetrees (Helen Jurgens prior to the marriage).  I have found mention of a sister, Flora Amelia, born April 20, 1874 who died July 19, 1909. I have not been able to find the records for Flora Amelia, however, just mentions on some of the genealogy sites. Rumor has it that an ebook regarding Charles H. is in the works, so hopefully some of this confusion will be cleared up soon.

A letter today will make my sweetheart GAY.

7 1/8" x 3 1/2"
circa 1930s, 1940s
Fold-Out
made in USA


Whoever the man behind the name may be, Twelvetrees excelled in images of chubby cheeked children. You'll also notice his distinctive little bulldogs as a repeated theme. He did many animal images in addition to the dogs, with them appearing sometimes in costume, sometimes not. The costumes can be wonderfully detailed and include old-fashioned items like spats. There are many apparent series to look for, making for some fun hunting for collectors! Horsman also based a series of dolls on Twelvetrees' children in the 1920s for today's determined collectors to hunt down.

 No Text

6 3/4" x 5"
circa 1920s, 1930s
Mechanical Flat
made in Germany

versions of this card come in other sizes and without the mechanical action on the arm 
Cause you're my Valentine I'se gonna be DISH-gusted till yo' shines up to me.


figure washes dishes
circa 1940s
made in USA
attributed to Charles Twelvetrees

In April of 1948, Charles H. Twelvetrees died of natural causes in his bathtub in a New York City hotel where he appears to have resided. The New York Times carried an obituary that listed no survivors, so despite his great success with images of children, he may not have had any of his own.

There are several reproductions of Twelvetrees valentines out there to be aware of. Some of these date to the 1980s so are old enough to be considered "vintage" in their own right and can have a bit of an "aged" look due to this. Treasure House Imports of Seattle, WA made some of these repros back in 1982. Other reproduction companies to be aware of include Shackman, Old Print Factory, Merrimack Publishing and Gallery Graphics Inc. Most of these reproduction cards are clearly on the back as by one of these companies. I do not know of any reproductions coming out of Germany, so the cards marked as made there are unlikely to be repros.


Plunking on the same old tune be my Valentine.

5 1/4" x 4 1/4"
dated 1924
Mechanical Flat

featuring one of Twelvetrees' characteristic dogs
made in USA

published by Louis Katz 
versions of this card can be found in other sizes and without the fence and dog

**************************************************
Companies Twelvetrees is known to have worked for:
  • S. Bergman
  • Ullman Manufacturing Co
  • National Art Co
  • Edward Gross Co
  • The Home Magazine/Tower Publications
  • Pictorial Review
  • New York Herald
  • Alpha Publications
  • Reinthal & Newman
  • F. A. Stokes
  • Raphael Tuck
  • Louis Katz

For more information see: The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, Feb 22 2008 article by Roy Nuhn; Valentines by Katherine Krieder; 100 Years of Valentines by Kathrine Krieder; Valentine Treasury by Robert Brenner.


I Love You ~ You will be Mine ~ My Valentine ~ My Heart's on Fire

3 3/8" x 5 3/8"
Made in USA
circa 1940s
Likely unmarked Twelvetrees


Parking isn't lawful ~ but Sparking isn't barred Be my Valentine.  US 2 Only.

Unmarked Charles Twelvetrees
Flat

made in USA


It would sure be fun to COAST along with you My Valentine.

Unmarked Charles Twelvetrees
Kids on Skates with Dog in Baby Carriage
Fold-Out 


To My Valentine.

3 3/4" x 2"
circa 1920s, 1930s
mechanical flat
by Charles Twelvetrees
made in Germany
one in a series of similar sized characters with moving eyes

To my Valentine

3 5/8" x 2"
circa 1930s
Mechanical Flat
by Charles Twelvetrees
made in Germany
 one in a series of similar sized characters with moving eyes
This figure with the banded hat appears on postcards and other cards in a variety of sizes