Burr Shafer 1899 – 1965


The original book was copyright by Burr Shafer in 1960.  This edition, which is an abridgment, was published in 1966.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Burr Shafer (1899 – June 1965[1]) was an American cartoonist. His cartoon collections featured the character of J. Wesley Smithappearing in various historical settings.[2] His historical satires moved U.S. President Harry S. Truman to write “I’m very proud that I’m smart enough to get the point.”[1] His cartoons appeared in The New Yorker[3] and The Saturday Review of Literature.[4]The J. Wesley Smith character, while not explicitly identified with the explorer John Smith, was depicted in the explorer’s situation in a cartoon panel about Pocahontas.Burr Shafer died in Orange County, California.[1]

Unfortunately, the above referenced cartoon is not in this collection.

The website, Goodreads, briefly mentions him, and lists a few of his books..

The usual impressive collection of google images.  Evidently, ‘shafer’ also returns a road in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.  From the images, not a road to drive down without some planning and forethought.  Much forethought.

Ancestry (ancestry.com) has a Burr and Evelyn Shafer.  Burr was born 24 October 1899 in Fresno, CA,  He died 15 June 1965, in Orange, CA.  I assume that is the town of Orange, not Orange the county.  In 1958 they lived at 901 Spurgen, in Santa Anna, and were Republicans.  I will leave the actual genealogical research to the family members, as it is a time consuming process.  Also, you will need to pony up money to access the site.

The website, Librarything, lists seven titles.

Roy Delgado, of Pvt Zilch fame, has a post, about the cartoonist.

There is a site which claims to provide you with a video interview with Burr.  However the site wants to download a player, and I do not want to do that.  It may be quite harmless, but I’ll pass.  If you are feeling frisky, let me know what happens.

Here are some cartoons from the above book.

Reminds me of the Bob Newhart routine where a media specialist is helping Lincoln.

Sounds like a good idea.

Burr cartoons are found in other collections.  Most of these collections will grudgingly list the cartoonists in the back, and one “New Yorker” only listed them on the dust jacket.  You are on your own to find the actual cartoon.  Lawrence Lariar seems to edit most of these collections.  He rates more space coverage than the cartoonists.  Actually, “The New Yorker War Album” from 1942 outdid itself with not even a listed editor much less the working stiffs providing the cartoons.

Well enough of my grousing.  The next cartoon is from “You’ve Got Me and How!” 1955, Lariar, editor.

The next few are from “You’ve Got Me On The Rocks” 1956, Lariar, editor.

On the cover of the book is a cartoon by Kaufman of a man next to a beer dispensing machine, to which is attached a microphone.  The sign says record your troubles.  The man is drinking a brew, his foot on a railing around the bottom of the machine, which has dispensed his beer, and talking into the microphone.  Somehow I don’t think that will take the place of the above cartoon.  Of course, there was a scene in the movie, “The fifth Element” where Ian Holmes character is telling his troubles to a robot bartender…

Well, I hope you enjoyed the work of Burr Shafer.

Until next time,



About visualhumor

Enjoy viewing and collecting visual humor from around the world.
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2 Responses to Burr Shafer 1899 – 1965

  1. Marti says:

    Great selection. Lovedthem all.

  2. Leigh says:

    Hi Ted,
    Don’t know if you’ll see this comment, but thanks for these. I had the “Through History…” book as a kid, and loved it. One of the cartoons showed JWS saying to Democritus something along the lines of “Show me one of these atoms, Democritus, then I’ll believe you.” Do you (or anyone else) know the exact quote, I’d like to use it sometime?
    Thanks for the laughs,

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