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Bert Thomas MBE PS (1883-1966)

Herbert Samuel Thomas, MBE PS (1883-1966)

Though Bert Thomas has become best known for his war cartoons – gaining a national reputation with one entitled ’Arf a mo’ Kaiser – he was wide ranging in his subjects and technically versatile.

Bert Thomas was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, on 13 October 1883, the youngest of the seven surviving children of the monumental sculptor, Job Thomas, and his wife, Mary (née Comley). One of his elder brothers, Ivor, became a sculptor.

Soon after his birth, Thomas moved to Swansea with his family. Following the death of both his parents when he was eight-years-old, he was brought up by other relatives and, at the age of 14, he began to serve an apprenticeship to a commercial metal-engraver. At the same time, he began to sell cartoons of music-halls and other subjects to the Swansea Daily Leader, Daily Post, News and Echo. In 1900, the popular music-hall performer, Albert Chevalier, commissioned him to design a poster, and he also contributed some drawings to The Strand Magazine.

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