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1911 cartoons by Sandusky artist found

Tom Jackson • Aug 12, 2014 at 10:30 PM



Jim Timmerberg was just trying to fix up a bedroom in his home when he stumbled across a piece of Sandusky history.

Removing old wallpaper from the wall of his  Adams Street home revealed decades-old caricatures, drawn and signed by a Sandusky artist, Arnold Ehrsam Sr. 

The cartoons, dated April 12, 1911, are on two walls of the bedroom. Timmerberg, a local attorney, damaged one before he realized it was there.

Alerted to the possibility of the other drawing, he carefully removed the wallpaper to reveal a caricature of a country bumpkin who somewhat resembles Alfred E. Neuman, the "Mad" magazine mascot who has adorned many of the humor magazine's covers.

Timmerberg said his research shows that Arnold Ehrsam Sr. served in World War I and made his living as a house painter. His son, Arnold Ehrsam Jr., also an artist and a World War II veteran, died in 2010.

Ehrsam senior was a talented painter who was good at copying famous works of art, said Charles T. Mayer, a retired art teacher who is the director of the Sandusky Cultural Center at Sandusky High School. 

He did large oil paintings for the former home of St. Stephens United Church of Christ in Sandusky, now Fellowship Temple at Jefferson and Lawrence, Mayer said. He also painted portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln that still hang at the former Jackson Junior High in Sandusky, now the Regional Center for Advanced Academics.

"They are hanging on our Madison Street entrance to our gym," said the school's principal, Tara Toft. "Most people who walk through there when I take them on tours comment on  how nice they are."

Mayer remembers Ehrsam drawing cartoons during church services at St. Stephens, and drawing to entertain children at Sunday School picnics.

"He was a nice man," Mayer said.

Ehrsam made his living as a painter, though not as an artist. He was a house painter.

"You'd see him walking around town with his ladders and paint buckets because he didn't drive," Mayer said.

Timmerberg wants to finish working on his bedroom but says he doesn't know how to preserve the artwork while removing the plaster. He said he'd appreciate suggestions on how to do that.

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