Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First National Bank of Morristown signed by Thomas Nast

Check signed by Thomas Nast (September 27, 1840 – December 7, 1902) a German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist who is considered to be the "Father of the American Cartoon."

Among his notable works were the creation of the modern version of Santa Claus, and Uncle Sam (the male personification of the American people), as well as the political symbols of both major United States political parties: the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey.

Born in the barracks of Landau, Germany (now in Rhine Palatinate), the son of a trombonist in the 9th regiment Bavarian band. The elder Nast's socialist political convictions put him at odds with the Bavarian government, and in 1846 he left Landau, enlisting first on a French man-of-war and subsequently on an American ship. He sent his wife and children to New York City, and at the end of his enlistment in 1849 he joined them there.

Thomas Nast's passion for drawing was apparent from an early age, and he was enrolled for about a year of study with Alfred Fredericks and Theodore Kaufmann and at the school of the National Academy of Design. Nast attended school in New York City from the age of six to fifteen, when he was forced to drop out due to financial problems. Thomas had problems adjusting to life in America and never took well to school. He spent his entire school career on the verge of flunking out and consequently was not an especially good speller. After school he started working in 1855 as a draftsman for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper; three years afterward, for Harper's Weekly.

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