Charles Henry Twelvetrees (1872 -1948)

Charles H. Twelvetrees is well-known to vintage postcard, and ephemera collectors in general for his many illustrations, mainly of chubby-cheeked children, which often are shown with funny captions. I put up the two examples that I have from postcards below (cropped and cleaned up a little in Photoshop.) His work can also be found on magazine covers, in newspapers, on calendars, and as valentines of that era. To mention a couple of particular examples, he was the illustrator for a children’s story by Seymour Eaton, called “Prince Domino and ‘Muffles’ ” and he did a comic strip called “Johnny Quack and the Van Cluck Twins.” (Some accounts say Van Cluck Sisters which, unless the strip name was changed at some point, is incorrect. Images can be found online of the comic strip showing the last word in the title as “Twins” not “Sisters.”) It’s also interesting to note that the 1900 Federal Census shows Charles’ occupation as “portrait artist.”

After looking online for information about this artist (for the prior post) and finding conflicting information, which some others have also been questioning, namely the year of birth, that there was also a Charles R., that the father of Charles was also an artist, I decided to make a list of online records to try to see if I could find some answers. I also noticed speculation about a Hollywood connection for a possible son of Charles Twelvetrees.

So, it was funny, but after doing quite a bit of research, I came across a website for someone who has written a book about the artist, author Robert William Mellberg. So, I will not go into great detail here, as Mr. Mellberg, who has done years of research, as opposed to my ummm week (shaking head and chuckling) will be the authority. A good lesson learned:  If someone is well-known, there’s probably already been a book written about them! But anyway, I did want to post something as there are so many examples online of the incorrect information for Charles H. Twelvetrees, and so am putting this up in the hope that it will help in the correction process.

It’s the 1920 U.S. Federal Census for Manhattan, New York that shows the wrong year of birth of 1888. Charles’ age is listed incorrectly there as 37. The best source for his date of birth from the census records is the 1900 record which states he was born July 1872, and the other census’ collaborate this year, being exact or a year off.

Charles’ father, Henry Twelvetrees, was a carpenter. There are simply scads of records that show this: both federal and state census’, as well as many Utica, New York city directories and at least one New York City directory, and none of those records show a middle initial. So, Henry never worked as an artist in the context that we’re looking at here. (Although perhaps he was an “artist” in the field of carpentry. And it’s interesting to see that on one of Henry’s census records (1910) he is listed as a carpenter in the shipbuilding industry.) But the “R” as a middle initial for Charles or Henry or anyone else that one could try to attribute to the art in question is incorrect. (See Mr. Mellberg’s website listed below for more on that.)

According to author, Robert W. Mellberg, artist Charles H. Twelvetrees was married three times (I had found two.) His second marriage was to Rose B. Clark, and they had one son, Clark Twelvetrees. Clark married Helen Marie Jurgens. Helen was married several times but kept her first married name, and is better known as Hollywood and stage actress, Helen Twelvetrees.

Update: See the comment posted – Charles’ third wife was Vera Albert.

As a side note, the 1905 New York State Census for Manhattan, New York shows Charles and wife (Rose) living at the address given of 37/45 West 22nd St. Living at the same address, which is presumably an apartment building or buildings, are ten other artists, two of whom are women. I just find this interesting. Their names as they appear on this record are:

Henry B. Snell, William H. Lippencott, Arthur Cushing, Frederick T.[?] Richards, William H. Drake, Augustus R.[?] Whytal, Walter D.[?] Sewall, Francis Pauling, Eleanor Bell, Flinker Augustine.

Here are the images from the two Charles Twelvetrees postcards that I have, as stated above (cropped and cleaned up a little). And please see the first source listed below for author Mellberg’s website, and detailed information about the artist, including a photo taken of him while he was working.

Nobodys Sweetheart YetFresno Girl

Sources:  Mellberg, Robert W., The Life and Works of Charles H. Twelvetrees, Artist – Illustrator. Web. 25 Jun 2014. New York, State Census, 1855.

“New York, State Census, 1875,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Jun 2014), Henry Twelvetsus, Utica, Oneida, New York, United States; citing p. 23, line 19, State Library, Albany; FHL microfilm 1435185.

Year: 1880; Census Place: New York City, New York, New York; Roll: 877; Family History Film: 1254877; Page: 377D; Enumeration District: 223; Image: 0176.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1095; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0307; FHL microfilm: 1241095.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1021; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0514; FHL microfilm: 1375034. (

“New York, State Census, 1915,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Jun 2014), Rose Twelftree, Southampton, Suffolk, New York, United States; from “New York, State Census, 1915,” index and images, ( : 2012); citing state population census schedules, 1915, p. 09, line 22, New York State Archives, Albany.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 7, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1198; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 567; Image: 159. (

Year: 1930; Census Place: Bronx, Bronx, New York; Roll: 1488; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0661; Image: 802.0; FHL microfilm: 2341223. (

“United States Census, 1940,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 Jun 2014), Charles H Twelvetrees, Assembly District 7, Manhattan, New York City, New York, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 31-576, sheet 3A, family , NARA digital publication of T627, roll 2636. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 New York, New York, Marriage Indexes 1866-1937 New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948

National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 (

Anna Twelvetrees obituary, New York, New York. The New York Times, 4 Jan 1903. Web. Accessed 24 Jun 2014. []

Holtz, Allan. blog “Stripper’s Guide”  article “Obscurity of the Day:  Prince Domino and Muffles” Web. 24 Jun 2014. []

24 thoughts on “Charles Henry Twelvetrees (1872 -1948)

  1. His third wife was Vera Albert She was listed on his Death Record. I do have his ex wife Rose B. Clark’s death record. When She passed away NYC had to track family down.

    Crazy family

    1st Wife Anna 26 Dec 1902 Manhattan NYC

    2nd Rose B. Clark Twelvertrees
    Died: 13 Aug 1946 Sydenham Hospital Manhattan NYC

    3rd Wife Vera Albert

  2. Vera Twelvetrees; Back in the 40’s we had guests staying at our house in Daytona Beach, Fl. One guest wintered with us for a number of years. She was Vera Twelvetrees and her daughter, Cecile. The name Charles Twelvetrees has a familiar ring to it. We thought of her as Aunt Vera, a gentle caring lady. Would pick Nasturtium leaves for her salads.

  3. I have been looking for info on this artist.. I have an original piece of artwork from the 1920’s . It has been in our home since 1966. when it was given to our family from the woman we bought the home from… Thanks for the insightful info on this artist

  4. I have a piece that is signed LMM 12/25/23. It certainly is his work or a darn exceptional copy….but the signature does not add up. Tracey

    • Hi Tracey, that’s interesting….Makes you wonder if the artist was an admirer of Charles Twelvetrees. If you’d like to put up more details on the piece in question, I’d be interested, for sure. Maybe it’ll help solve the mystery of the LMM initials (crossing fingers!) Anne

  5. I believe I may have an original sketch by Charles Twelvetrees. However, it is not signed in an Antique/ Vintage Frame. Actually I have two of them in the same style frame. Both drawings are 8×10, on Practice Board by Fireside Studios which they are describing the work of art submitted as a ” Lesson Plate”. The first drawing is that with the saying “She do, She don’t I hope She do!” The second one says “I dream if you by der night I dream of you by der day”. Both writings are done in pencil . The drawings are also done in pencil – colored pencil. Also Inside the frame with the photos were prints of “Wild Flowers” and “Asters and Pansies” by Apco-Chicago. Any information on these pictures would be helpful.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Nikki. Hopefully someone out there will have some more info for you. You can always check with antique dealers and auction houses, too, if you haven’t already. I do see on the second one you mentioned that the card was published with the caption and spelling as, “I dream of you py der night und I dream of you py der day, allready yet!” An ebay offering at the moment has one such card postmarked in 1918. Both cards are very cute …I’m not familiar with Apco-Chicago. I see an APCO late 1950s postcard, however that is Providence, RI….this is just from a really quick web search, nothing in depth.

    • Thank you for your response. I currently have both these items up for auction on eBay. If you would, please feel free to view it by searching “CHARLES TWELVETREES She Do, She Don’t I Hope She Do! Watercolor Sketch Picture” and the other one is “I dream of you by der day, I dream of you by der night” . Both sketches would be in my eBay store “MyeFavors”. Thank you in advance.

  7. Nikki, I’m certainly no expert on Charles Twelvetrees but it looks to me like what you might have are someone’s “art school” drawings or paintings. I’d assume they’re not by Charles Twelvetrees but by someone who took some type of art course, especially with the Fireside Studios page and the way it’s all worded there…you know? Plus the artwork itself – I’d think a preliminary sketch by the artist (if he did them, I don’t know what his process was) would be just a rough idea type of sketch. These look more like someone doing their best to copy what they see – as an art lesson. I looked for Fireside Studios but did not see anything online about them.

  8. I’m looking for the Children out to Dry ornament series of CH Twelvetrees…we bought only one of these beautiful ornaments when our children were small. Now we have four grown adult children and only one ornament!

  9. Hi JR, I hope you find three more! I hadn’t heard of these ornaments till now, and it looks like they might also show up online under “Babies out to Dry.” Not sure when the first were produced. The references I found (just in a quick search) were for ornaments made in 1986, well after C. H. Twelvetrees had died.

  10. I am so glad to see some history above thank you. He is so interesting and talented as an illustrator. It has been so hard to find anything. I am surprised Wikipedia even does not have his history. Any updates would be so welcomed. I can’t still believe that someone hasn’t done a book of his illustrations and his history.
    Patricia Clark

  11. Hi Patricia, you’re so welcome, and for me just his surname sparks interest. Yes, surprising there is not more out there. I updated the link on this site, for the author (you should be able to buy a pdf book version) Robert Mellberg, said to be authority on Charles Twelvetrees. Anne

    • Hi Tony, thanks for your comment. And I couldn’t (for my own sensitivities) include the link you sent, due to the content of that extremely offensive Twelvetrees’ illustration with caption. (Readers can find countless examples online very easily.) My post was not meant to be all-inclusive for the artist, but I should have mentioned it. Yes, Charles Twelvetrees absolutely created many sickening drawings and captions of African American children that leave one wondering how in the world any artist could, no matter the era, think they were being funny or cute with that type of thing – the word Ignorance comes to mind, as I’m typing this. Many find the Dutch childrens’ captions offensive, just to mention that, as well.

  12. I believe I just unknowingly bought an original (oil I think?) painting of his. Just a painting I fell in love with at a local antique shop. I found a print that was the exact same image signed by him, purchased that as well. Looking to find out more info on this artist, how do I get my hands on that book by Robert Mellberg? I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

    • Hi Kristen, sorry for such a late response. Awesome on your finds! As far as the Mellberg book, as far as I know it’s only available in a PDF format online. The weblink on my posting for Charles, the very first one under Sources at the bottom should still work. But if not, you should be able to find it online, under the the title, The Life and Works of Charles H
      Twelvetree, Artist -Illustrator. Evidently it comes up under Anne

  13. hi there , i have water colour painting from 1918 . its a painting marked by f.dickinson or the f could be something else. its the painting of one of charles twelvetrees has done . the little girl sewing with a puppy . would you have info on this painting ? i can send a picture on email thanks

  14. My Mother is a Twelftree and although her maiden name is different than Charles’s we have him listed in our genealogy. So he is a distant relative to me and mother’s Father. Charles’s Family line traces back to a Twelvetrees as an immigrant who came to Ohio and became a baker, this is noted in our genealogy. Also his son is listed in our genealogy as an actor who fell a couple of stories in New York City an attempted suicide but remained alive in hospital after which he died from his injuries. I suppose this is why Helen Marie Jurgens kept his last name as a stage name to remember him? I’d love to have a print from one of his works as a piece of relative history.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Andrew. I emailed you back, and as stated in my email, I got curious about Charles’ son, Clark. From newspaper articles there were two separate incidents. The attempted suicide at the time of his divorce from Helen, and head injuries from a scuffle on the street, from which they had arrested someone who then gave his side of the story. I’m leaving out all the drama-filled details. Just for the record, I’m thinking most likely Helen Twelvetrees kept the name for convenience – an actress keeping the name she’s known by.

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