Monday, July 09, 2012


Ink-Slinger Profiles: Bert Cobb

Albert "Bert" Cobb was born in Chicago, Illinois around 1869, according to the New York Times, April 3, 1936. In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, he was the youngest of two sons born to Henry and Sarah. His paternal grandfather was the head of the household; they lived in Chicago. His father and uncle were manufacturers of spring beds. The Times said he grew up in Wilmington, Delaware.

In the 1880 census, Cobb was the second of six children. The Cobbs lived in Wilmington on Washington Street. His father was a car spring manufacturer. According to the Times Cobb "attended military school and the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts."

In the mid-1890s, he contributed artwork to sheet music. Tin Pan Alley: An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song (2003) said: "…Much of their success with coon songs could be attributed to illustrators Bert Cobb (1869–1936) and Edgar Keller (1867–1932), who designed their covers. Their artwork was, in large part, responsible for the sales that these songs enjoyed, so M. Witmark and Sons, started using Cobb and Keller, too." In the late-1890s he was cartooning in Philadelphia.

Cobb has not been found in the 1900 census. He was a contributor the The World's comics section in 1900.

The World, 12/14/1900

A Kittiwake of the Great Kills (1904), a collection of animal short stories, had an illustration by him. Three Cobb caricatures were featured in Representative Men of the West in Caricature (1904); page 47, Francis Emory Warren; page 69, C.B. Schmidt; and page 259, Frederick W. Standart. In 1907 his work turns up in Boston; he produced Stumble-Toe Joe, and Ambitious Teddy.

Cobb has not been found in the 1910 census. His Meddlesome Millie appeared in the Boston Post beginning in February 1911. Later that year he was in Detroit, Michigan when he was a patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. His arrival was reported in The Battle Creek Idea, September 15, 1911. During his stay in Chicago, he contributed several caricatures to the Hamiltonian and Republican National Convention Program. The convention was held in Chicago, June 18, 1912.

The Times said: "…He specialized in political cartoons and formerly contributed to Puck and other magazines. He was formerly a cartoonist for The New York Globe, The Boston Globe, Kansas City Star and other newspapers…."

He has not been found in the 1920 census. The Greensboro Daily Record (North Carolina), June 23, 1922, published news of Cobb's cartoons series:

Bert Cobb, one of America's foremost cartoonists, who is preparing a series of cartoons of "Captain of the Automobile Industry," has paid Clarence A. Earl, president of Earl Motors, Inc., Jackson, Michigan, the compliment of giving him third place on the list of executives whose likenesses he will reproduce. Mr. Cobb's series of cartoons are being sent to newspapers in all parts of the country and are arousing considerable interest in automobile circles….

The Times said: "Since 1923 he had devoted himself largely to etchings of famous dogs.…" The New York City Directory 1925 listed his occupation as cartoonist and home address as 180 West 238th Street.

The 1930 census recorded him in the Bronx, New York at 3820 Waldo Avenue. He married Elizabeth when he was 51 years old, around 1921.
His occupation was artist. The St. Petersburg Times (Florida), February 17, 1930, reported the exhibition of his etchings. Two books of his dog etchings, Portraits of Dogs and Hunting Dogs, were published in 1931.

Cobb passed away April 2, 1936. The Times reported his death following day: "…[he] died…in Grasslands Hospital, Valhalla, N.Y., of pneumonia after a ten-day illness. Mr. Cobb, who lived at 39 Cleveland Drive here, was 66 years old."


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