Felix O. Schlag

** Last updated:  February 21, 2015 **
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1882 - 1888
On July 28, 1882, Gustav Strunk was born in Karolinow, Poland.  Gustav was the father of Natalea “Nellie” Strunk, Felix’s second wife.

Felix's sister, Elsie (Else) Schlag was born on August 17, 1883.

On August 22, 1886, Natalea (Euglehard) Strunk was born in Chetm, Poland.  Natalea was married to Gustav Strunk and the mother of Nellie Schlag, Felix's second wife.  Throughout the many documents referencing Natalea, there are numerous spellings of her name, including:  Natalja, Natalae, Nathalie.  Natalea is how it is spelled on her naturalization documentation from 1942.

George Treiling, the husband of Elsie Schlag, was born on February 18, 1888 in New Jersey. [This data needs sourced and confirmed] 

Source(s):
U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration and Naturalization Form No. I-IP for Gustav Strunk, Cert no. 3012536 (January 30, 1929), District Court of The United States of Chicago, Ill., USA.

U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration and Naturalization Petition for Else Treiling, Cert no. 5971605 (August 24, 1944), District Court of The United States for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn), USA.

U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration and Naturalization Form for Natalea Strunk, Cert no. 5507020 (January 2, 1942), District Court of The United States of Chicago, Ill., USA.

Passenger Manifest of the S.S. Deutschland, February 1, 1929.  "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957."  FamilySearch (http://FamilySearch.org). Citing Immigration and Naturalization Service. National Archives, Washington D.C.

1891  
Felix Oskar (Oscar) Schlag was born on September 4, 1891 in Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt on the Main River), Germany to Karl and Therese Schlag.  There are many posting across the Internet that list his date of birth as December 4; however, it should be noted that none of these listings provides source information to support this date.  Following are some of the verifiable sources identified that support a birth date of September 4, 1891:
 
1.  Bavarian military rosters from World War I (volumes 13168 and 14335) listing a Felix Oskar Schlag from Frankfurt, Germany with a birth date of 4.9.91 (the European date format of DD/MM/YY) and parents Karl Schlag, a sculptor, and Therese (Fischer) Schlag.

Source(s):
Baverisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Muchen; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv.  Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume 13168. Kriegssstammrolle: BD 1.

Baverisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Muchen; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv.  Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume 14335. Kriegssstammrolle: BD 5.

Ancestry.com. Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

 
 
2.  A United States Department of Labor, Immigration, and Naturalization Service form listing Chicago resident, Felix Oskar Schlag, originally from Germany, with a date of birth of Sept.4.1891.

Source(s):
"Illinois, Northern District Naturalization Index, 1840-1950," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XKG1-1WF), Felix Oskar Schlag, 1938.

 

3.  A clipping entitled, "Strong Jefferson Wins Competition for Schlag", reportedly from the June 1962 issue of Coin World magazine.  The article states, "Schlag was born in Frankfurt, Germany on September 4, 1891, and studied at the Academy of Art in Munich, Germany."

Source(s):
"Strong Jefferson Wins Competition for Schlag." Coin World. June 1962.

 

4.  An Associated Press article run in the Friday, July 15, 1966 issue of the Ellensburg Daily Record stating, "Schlag, who will be 75 in September, was born in Munich Germany, and became an American citizen in 1929."

The latter part of this statement is factually inaccurate as it is known that Schlag was born in Frankfurt and that he arrived in the United States in 1929, ultimately becoming a citizen in 1938.

Content reproduced with the permission of the Associated Press.  Further reproduction prohibited without permission of the Copyright owner.

Source(s):
Associated Press.  Ellensburg [Washington] Daily Record. Vol. 66, no. 291 (July 15, 1966):  p. 6. < http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=H_pOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2EsDAAAAIBAJ&dq=felix%20schlag&pg=7277%2C3561799>

 

5.  The Shiawassee District Library's surname database describes a Felix Schlag, born in Germany and buried at Oak Hill Cemetery (Owosso, MI) as being born on Sep 4, 1891.

The death date is inaccurately listed as 4 March 1974.  It is known that Schlag passed on 9 March 1974 and is suspected that this was a transcription error on the part of the database creators.  The database was populated by the Shiawassee County Genealogical Society (Owosso, Michigan) which has since been disbanded.

Source(s):
http://sdl.lib.mi.us/surnameindex/result.php?RecID=36510&surname=schlag
https://sites.google.com/site/scogensoc/

 

6.  An obituary from the March 11, 1974 Argus-Press (page 2 of 8) stating, "Born in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 4, 1891, he was the son of Carl and Theresa Schlag and married Ethel Minnie Levin in Grand Rapids on Nov. 22, 1940."

Content reproduced courtesy of the Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com).  Further reproduction prohibited without permission of the Copyright owner.

Source(s):
”Schlag Services Held Sunday.”  The Argus-Press [Owosso, MI]. No. 59 (March 11, 1974):  Sec. 1, p. 3. < http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=bO_hriczGZwC&dat=19740311&printsec=frontpage&hl=en>


1896
On December 24, 1896 Hans Schlag, Felix’s bother was born in Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt on the Main River), Germany.

Source(s):
Germany, World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1917, pg. 9 of 16 online.
Ancestry.com. Germany, World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1917 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Deutsche Verlustlisten 1914 bis 1917. Berlin, Deutschland: Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt)..

1897 - 1908
 
At the age of 6, Felix would have entered Volksschule, the German name for primary school and lower secondary school.  This was a nine year term; state funded, and required education for all Germans.  For most, this would be the extent of their formal education.  Secondary school was not free and most children were expected to commence work upon completion of Volksschule; thereby contributing to the family income.

According the Felix’s Declaration of Intention, filed on August 16, 1934 in the District court of the United States in Chicago, IL, his first of three wives, Anna Zisyler, was born September 22, 1897 in Munchen (Munich), Germany.

In 1906, at the age of 14, Felix completed his nine years of Volksschule and reportedly began working as an apprentice in his father's sculpture studio in Frankfurt.  A framed exhibit that was on display at the Owosso Savings Bank in Michigan included a biography which indicated the apprenticeship at his father's studio began in 1900; however, a biography Schlag submitted to the Section of Fine Arts in June 1939 confirms the 1906 start date.

In 1908 a 16/17 year old Felix won first prize for his design of an “Ornamental Sculpture” in Frankfurt, Germany.  This is the first known award he received for his work.

According to the 15th Census of the United States conducted in April 1930, sometime in 1905 or 1906, Gustav Strunk would marry Natalea Euglehard.  Gustav and Natalea were the parents of Nellie, Felix's second wife.

Source(s):
Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.

Andreas, David L.  “Franklin Mint Coin-Medals Sculpted By Felix Schlag.”  The Portico. Newsletter of the Jefferson Full Step Nickel Club Vol. 8, no. 1 (January-March 2008), pp. 10-41.

Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

Passenger Manifest of the S.S. Deutschland, February 1, 1929.  "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957."  FamilySearch (http://FamilySearch.org). Citing Immigration and Naturalization Service. National Archives, Washington D.C.

Certified transcription of birth certificate for Hilda Eleanor Schlag, Cert no. 542 (September 17, 1929), Connecticut Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Meriden City, CT, USA.

Robinson, Joseph P. “Military Service.” Colonel J’s. Colonel J’s, LLC, 15 March 2008. Web. January 2014. <http://www.pickelhauben.net/articles/MilitaryService_08.html >, <http://www.pickelhauben.net/articles/MilitaryService_08_02.html >.

Wylie, George and Joe Robinson. “Landsturm.” Colonel J’s. Colonel J’s, LLC, 20 March 2009. Web. January 2014. <http://www.pickelhauben.net/articles/Landsturm.html>.

"Second SCFC Commemorative Sculptured by Felix Schlag of Jefferson Nickel Fame."  Societe Commemorative de Femmes Celebres.  Newsletter Vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1966), p. 6-8.

Segel, Joseph M., Jack Hamilton, George A. Beach, and Edwin S. Trautman.  The National Commemorative Society and its First Fifty Issues. Philadelphia, PA:  National Historical Association, 1969, pp. 62, 104, 126.

Declaration of Intention for Felix Schlag, Cert no. 96531 (August 16, 1934), District Court of The United States of Chicago, Ill. (Northern District of Illinois), USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.

United States. Bureau of the Census.  “15th Census of the United States. 1930 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule)”, Evanston City, Evanston Township, Cook County, Illinois, Enumeration District 16-2131, Sheet 26B, Dwelling 428, Slrunk, Gustaf household. National Archives, Washington, DC, online database, <http://www.archive.org/>.

 

1909 - 1911
 
In 1909, at the age of 17, Felix applied to and was accepted into the Kunstgewerbe Schule (School of Applied Arts), Frankfurt am Main, which originally opened in 1879.  Here he studied sculpture under Professor E. Hausmann and architecture under Professors Luthmer and C. Lennartz.  In 1922, the Kunstgewerbe Schule would become the Städel School (Academy of Fine Arts). After World War II, in 1946, the school was elevated to the state level and renamed to the Staedelschule (State College of Fine Arts).

In January 2014 an email was sent to the rector of the Staedelschule <rektor@staedelschule.de> to inquire about any record of Felix’s attendance at the school.  To date, this email has gone unanswered.

The Wehrordnung des Deutschen Reiches 1888 (Military Order of the German Empire or Imperial Law) required all males of 17 years old to register for military service.  As Felix was 17, he would have registered in 1909.

According to her death certificate, "Nellie" Strunk, Felix's second wife, was born on April 28, 1909 in Lodz, Poland to Gurt and Nathalie (Euglehard) Strunk.  Her father was Polish and her mother German.  Located in central Poland, about 80 miles west of Warsaw, Lodz is one of Poland’s largest cities. It should be noted that the July 2, 1929 manifest of the S.S. George Washington indicates that Nellie was born in Karolinau, Poland.

In 1910, Schlag won 2nd place in a "Street Car Poster Competition" and 3rd place in a "Graphic Competition" in Frankfurt.

He would continue his secondary education in sculpture at the Kunstgewerbe Schule (School of Applied Arts), until he entered the Royal Academy of Art, Munich in 1912.

Source(s):
Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.

Certificate of Death for Nellie Schlag, Cert no. 7618 (March 14, 1938), State of Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics, County of Cook, City of Chicago (District 3104), IL, USA.

Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

Segel, Joseph M., Jack Hamilton, George A. Beach, and Edwin S. Trautman.  The National Commemorative Society and its First Fifty Issues. Philadelphia, PA:  National Historical Association, 1969, pp. 62, 104, 126.

"Second SCFC Commemorative Sculptured by Felix Schlag of Jefferson Nickel Fame."  Societe Commemorative de Femmes Celebres.  Newsletter Vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1966), p. 6-8.

Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).

“New Deal/W.P.A. Artist Biographies.”  WPAMurals.com. Web. January 2014. <http://www.wpamurals.com/wpabios.htm>.

Wikipedia contributors. “Arts and Crafts School.”  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 23 September 2013. Web. 24 February 2014. <http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunstgewerbeschule&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dkunstgewerbeschule%2Bfrankfurt%2Bam%2Bmain%26biw%3D1680%26bih%3D898>.

Robinson, Janet and Joe Robinson.  Handbook of Imperial Germany. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2009, pp. 145-151. <http://books.google.com/books?id=4Qsz1mi1t_IC&lpg=PP1>.

Petition for Naturalization for Felix Schlag, Cert no. 161775 (November 4, 1937), District Court of The United States of Chicago, Ill., USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.

Passenger Manifest of the S.S. George Washington, July 2, 1929.  "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957."  FamilySearch (http://FamilySearch.org). Citing Immigration and Naturalization Service. National Archives, Washington D.C.
 

1912  
Felix Schlag, Royal Academy of Art, Academy of Fine Arts, Munich
On May 7, 1912, at the age of 20, Felix officially registered with the Royal Academy of Art, Munich, now the Academy of Fine Arts.  He was student number 5114 and one of 117 students in Professor Erwin Kurz's sculpture school. 

Schlag's entry in the historical student database of the Academy can be viewed here and the actual scan of the registry book is here.

                    Image of the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich circa 1910

From December 2013 – February 2014 several email exchanges were held with Caroline Sternberg, the staff member at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich responsible for the archives and website content.  Ms. Sternberg kindly provided the links to the online database and conducted a search of the records that have not yet been digitized.  She confirmed that the May 1912 entry is the only record of Schlag’s attendance at the school. 

During a series of talks in the 1960's, Schlag would report that he studied at the Academy of Art for a total of 7 years.  After just one year, Schlag's education would be interrupted by World War I.  He would reportedly return to the Academy in 1916.

On May 10, 1912, Gustav Strunk, Felix’s father-in-law by his second wife, arrived in Baltimore, MD after sailing from Bremen for 15 days.  He was 29 years old, of German decent and hailing from Lodz, Poland where his wife, Natalea remained.  Gustav listed his profession as “joiner,” meaning he was a skilled craftsman, likely specialized in making stairs, doors, and window frames.

Source(s):
Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.

Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

05114 - Felix Schlag, Matriculation at the Academy of Fine Arts 1884-1920. Akademie der Bildenden Kunste Munchen (Academy of Fine Arts, Munich). Web. 24 February 2014. <http://matrikel.adbk.de/05ordner/mb_1884-1920/jahr_1912/matrikel-05114>.

Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).

http://matrikel.adbk.de/
http://matrikel.adbk.de/07lehrer/lehrer/kurz-erwin
http://matrikel.adbk.de/05ordner/mb_1884-1920/jahr_1912/matrikel-05114
http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/bsb00004662/images/index.html?id=00004662&fip=217.237.113.238&no=&seite=424

Passenger Manifest of the S.S. Chemnitz, April 25, 1912.  "Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, MD, 1820-1948."  FamilySearch (http://FamilySearch.org).

 

1913 - 1916
 
Schlag spent the majority of this time period in military training and service in World War I for the German Army.  A detailed account of his activities, entitled Felix Schlag and the Great War, was originally published in the August 2014 issue of The Numismatist.

The Numismatist August 2014
An abbreviated timeline follows:

October 23, 1913 – Reported for active duty
    Trained on 98/09 is light weight field howitzer artillery and possibly the
    Maxim MG 08 7.9mm belt 41/sled mount 83

August 1, 1914 – Schlag’s unit mobilized, 12th Field Artillery Regiment (F.A.R.)

August 6, 1914 – Dispatched to Landau Garrison, as part of German 6th
    Army, 2nd Bavarian Corps, 3rd Bavarian Division, 3rd Bavarian Field
    Artillery Brigade, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd division/unit, 4th
    Battery

August 8, 1914 – Unit detrains in Faulquemont

August 10, 1914 – Chateau-Salins

August 19, 1914 – Sent to Border protection command post in Lothringen (Lorraine). Saw combat near Liedersingen /Lidrezing when French attacked German fort in Morhange. One of the battles surrounding what is now generally referred to as the battle of the Frontiers which began 14 August 1914. Part of the German counter assault.

August 20-22, 1914 – Battle of Lorraine (14 August 1914 – 7 September 1914…Basically a stalemate)

August 22-September 14, 1914 – Battle before Nancy-Epinal

August 27-31, 1914 Cassis Framboise
    Pushed north towards Mortagne River, raiding village of Gerbeviller as they passed through it.

September 6-10, 1914 Cassis Framboise

September 19, 1914 – Boarded train near Metz bound for Dinant, Belgium

September 21, 1914 – Arrived in Dinant

September 22-29, 1914 – Battle on the Somme; First Battle of Albert, Somme (25 -29 September 1914)

September 29, 1914 – Suffered severe shrapnel wound to right shoulder near Montauban, France . Transported to Guillemont field hospital. The regimental doctor at the field hospital in Guillemont listed him as slightly wounded. Later classified as severely wounded. [Riviere reports injury was to left shoulder and left upper arm]

October 5, 1914 – Transported to hospital in Frankfurt (White Lilie)

October 22, 1914 – Israel hospital in Frankfurt

November 11, 1914 – Reserve hospital 52 in Frankfurt-Seckbach

December 1, 1914. One of 41 men from the 2nd Division, 4th Battery on the December 1, 1914 German loss list.  Fourteen were listed as killed in action, 11 severely wounded, 15 lightly wounded, and 1 missing in action.

June 6, 1915 - Israel hospital in Frankfurt

July 17, 1915 - Reserve hospital 52 in Frankfurt-Seckbach

October 24, 1915 - Ersatz Abteilung of the Bavarian 12th F.A.R. A replacement battalion remained in Garrison.

January 4, 1916 – In Landau Garrison. Signed ?discharge paperwork?. Witnessed by Landau, Captain & battery-head Bürklein. Noted that he exhibited very good leadership and had received no official reprimands

January 31, 1916 – Declared “G.K.V.”. Generally fit for duty in Garrison.

June 15, 1916 – Awarded the P.E.K. II. Prussian Iron Cross Second class

In some cases the lower levels of the Iron Cross like the 2nd or 1st class ones could be issued to whole units for their actions rather than just to individuals.  There were two potential means for winning an Iron Cross:

1. Exceptional bravery in combat
2. Showing independent thinking and action as a leader

For officers generally both were required whereas for enlisted it could be an either-or situation.
http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com

Convalescence September 1914 – July/October 1915 looks like about a year to recover. Per Riviere early 1916 18 months of hospitalization.

Source(s):
Baverisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Muchen; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv.  Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume 13168. Kriegssstammrolle: BD 1.

Baverisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Muchen; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv.  Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume 14335. Kriegssstammrolle: BD 5.

Ancestry.com. Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

 

1916 - 1919
 
During a series of talks in the 1960's, Schlag would state that, “it was during the latter part of my recover [from injuries sustained in World War I] that I won first prize for my models for a monumental fountain, and first prize for the design of a Red Cross medal.”  These accolades were also described in a biography Schlag provided to the Section of Fine Arts in June 1939.

In December 2013, emails were exchanged with the Liebieghaus Sculpture museum <http://www.liebieghaus.de/lh/>, the Staedel Museum <http://www.staedelmuseum.de/sm/>, and the Cultural Office <http://www.frankfurt.de/> in Frankfurt, Germany inquiring about the existence of any memorial fountains attributable to Felix Schlag.  None of these organizations had any record of such work.  By no means is it being suggested that the fountain which Felix won an award for did not exist.  Frankfurt was devastated during World War II resulting in the significant loss of records and artistic pieces that were present throughout the city.  Another possibility could be that the fountain was never actually built, and what he won the award for was the “models.”

In regards to the Red Cross medal, there are no known specimens or images of this piece at this time.    For the curious; Red Cross Medals were typically awarded to those who demonstrated exceptional service to the sick or to the German Red Cross.  Prior to German unification in 1871 many of the constituent states, e.g. Bavaria, Hesse, Prussia, etc., had independent Red Cross societies; all with their own set of badges and medals.  Most of these awards were designed and in use by the respective society well in advance of WWI. As with the fountain, the reality could be that Felix won the prize based on his “design” of a medal which was never actually produced.  Another theory posited by experts queried in militaria and societal medals is that Schlag may have designed a medallion or other award that was not for official issue, but was more of a keepsake, or possibly something that would be for sale to the public. 

Note:  If anyone has details and/or images of the fountain or Red Cross medal, please contact us.

At some point in 1916, Felix appears to have been released from his service in the German army.  One report indicates that he returned to his father’s studio in Frankfurt while at least two others suggest that he returned to the Royal Academy of Art, Munich where he continued his lessons in sculpture under Erwin Kurz until 1919.  As mentioned previously, the Royal Academy of Art in Munich has no additional records of Schlag beyond his original enrollment.  It is likely that immediately upon his discharge from service, Felix returned to Frankfurt while arrangements were made for his re-enrollment in the Academy. 

Felix often stated that he studied for a total of seven years at the Royal Academy of Art, including the one year he completed in 1912, prior to his military service, along with the 3 years of study from 1916-1919, he would have now completed 4 years of sculpture school.

From November of 1918 until August of 1919, Germany was immersed in a post war civil conflict that ultimately replaced the imperial government with the Weimar Republic.  From its outset, the revolt spread rapidly and by early November had seized control of a number of key German cities, including Frankfurt and Munich.  By his own admission in his 1960’s presentations, Schlag indicates that, “the 1918-19 revolution had very direct and serious effects on my entire life.”  No further discussion of the impacts of the uprising have been located, but one is left to wonder what the meaning behind the use of the words “direct” and “serious” was in reference to. 

It was also during this time that Felix potentially took up mountain climbing in the European Alps; a pastime that he indicated in his 1960’s discussions, “influenced his mind and spirit and attitude toward life”

Source(s):
Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.

 Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

Segel, Joseph M., Jack Hamilton, George A. Beach, and Edwin S. Trautman.  The National Commemorative Society and its First Fifty Issues. Philadelphia, PA:  National Historical Association, 1969, pp. 62, 104, 126.

"Second SCFC Commemorative Sculptured by Felix Schlag of Jefferson Nickel Fame."  Societe Commemorative de Femmes Celebres.  Newsletter Vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1966), p. 6-8.

Becker, Thomas. “Felix Schlag creates the Jefferson Nickel.” Coinage. Vol. 9, Issue 2. February 1973.

"Felix Schlag Captures Audience During Forum." Coin World.  Page 54. September 2, 1964.

Schlag, Felix. “The Story of the Jefferson Nickel.” The Numismatist. Vol. 78, Issue 2, pp. 11-14. January 1965.

Wikipedia contributors. "Red Cross Medal (Prussia)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 May. 2013. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

Wikipedia contributors. "German Revolution of 1918–19." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

http://www.jkmilitaria.com
http://www.richardjordan.com
http://www.themedalhound.com/
 

1920 - 1923
 
From 1920 – 1922 Schlag was reportedly living in Munich and was “affiliated” with the Academy of Art.  It does not appear that he was enrolled in the school at this time and it seems his time was occupied with marriage, fatherhood, and competitions. 

According the Felix’s naturalization paperwork, an unwed Felix and Anna welcomed their first child, Felicy (presumably a girl), on January 23, 1920.  The couple would ultimately marry on October 4, 1920 in Munchen (Munich), Germany.

The January 1920 birth date of Felicy places the date of conception around April 29, 1919; meaning Felix and Anna would have met no later than April of 1919.

In 1921, Schlag was busy with competitions, winning 3rd prize for a War monument in Dachau, Germany, 1st prize for an Agricultural diploma in Munich, 3rd prize for a War monument in Schwaben, Germany, and 2nd prize for Vine Etiquette in Saarbrucken, Germany.

Note:  If anyone can explain what "Vine Etiquette" is in relation to art or sculpture, please contact us.

According the Felix’s naturalization paperwork, in Unterhaching, Germany (a district of Munich) Anna gave birth to their second child, Leonhard “Leo” (May 8, 1921 – April 8, 1945), on May 8, 1921.  This birth date places the conception period close to August 24, 1920; roughly a month prior to Felix and Anna’s wedding.  Perhaps Leo offered the encouragement for the couple to exchange vows.

In 1922, he won second prize for a War monument in Amberg, Germany.  In December 2013, an email was sent to the Stadt Museum in Amberg, Germany seeking information about any monuments attributed to Felix Schlag.  To date, no response has been received from the museum.

Source(s):
Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.

 Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

"Second SCFC Commemorative Sculptured by Felix Schlag of Jefferson Nickel Fame."  Societe Commemorative de Femmes Celebres.  Newsletter Vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1966), p. 5-8.

Segel, Joseph M., Jack Hamilton, George A. Beach, and Edwin S. Trautman.  The National Commemorative Society and its First Fifty Issues. Philadelphia, PA:  National Historical Association, 1969, pp. 62, 104, 126.

“New Deal/W.P.A. Artist Biographies.”  WPAMurals.com. Web. January 2014. <http://www.wpamurals.com/wpabios.htm>.

Certified transcription of birth certificate for Hilda Eleanor Schlag, Cert no. 542 (September 17, 1929), Connecticut Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Meriden City, CT, USA.

Wikipedia contributors. "Felix Schlag." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Dec. 2013. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

Declaration of Intention for Felix Schlag, Cert no. 96531 (August 16, 1934), District Court of The United States of Chicago, Ill. (Northern District of Illinois), USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.

Petition for Naturalization for Felix Schlag, Cert no. 161775 (November 4, 1937), District Court of The United States of Chicago, Ill., USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.

German War Graves Commission Online Database (http://www.volksbund.de/graebersuche.html)

http://www.usacoinbook.com/encyclopedia/coin-designers/felix-schlag


1923 - 1926
 
In 1923, Felix returned to the Royal Academy of Art, Munich for his fifth year of school, studying painting under Professor Karl Caspar.  He also won 3rd prize for his model of a War Monument, in Bad Kissingen, Germany in 1923.  After concluding his time with Professor Caspar in 1924, he became a student of art history under Professor's Burger, Nasse, and Heinrich Wolfflin until 1926.  These would be Felix’s final two years of study and conclude his 7 years at the Academy.

On August 15, 1923, Gustav Strunk, Felix’s father-in-law by his second wife, would depart Bremen aboard the S.S. George Washington en route to the port of New York, and ultimately to Evanston, ILL.  He was now 41 years old and described himself as a joiner of Polish decent.  Again he left his wife, Natalea at their home in Lodz, Poland.  Gustav would arrive in New York on August 24, 1923 and was destined for his nephew’s, Freiderich Berendt, home at 1418 Greenleaf St, Evanston, ILL.  Gustav was just 5’-5” tall and had $25 to his name upon arrival.

Source(s):
Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.

 Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

"Felix Schlag Captures Audience During Forum." Coin World.  Page 54. September 2, 1964.

Schlag, Felix. “The Story of the Jefferson Nickel.” The Numismatist. Vol. 78, Issue 2, pp. 11-14. January 1965.

Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).

"Second SCFC Commemorative Sculptured by Felix Schlag of Jefferson Nickel Fame."  Societe Commemorative de Femmes Celebres.  Newsletter Vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1966), p. 6-8.

Segel, Joseph M., Jack Hamilton, George A. Beach, and Edwin S. Trautman.  The National Commemorative Society and its First Fifty Issues. Philadelphia, PA:  National Historical Association, 1969, pp. 62, 104, 126.

Passenger Manifest of the S.S. George Washington, August 15, 1929.  "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957." FamilySearch (http://FamilySearch.org).

 

1926 - 1928
 
Having won at least a dozen awards by 1926, Felix had established himself as a master sculptor and opened his own studio in Munich.  He took on many private commissions throughout Germany and Austria.  In 1926 he won 3rd prize for a model of a War Monument at Augsburg, Germany.  This would be the final documented competition for him while in Germany.  

At some point, prior to his emigration to the United States, Felix purportedly was asked to complete a life size sculpture, the "Reclining Figure", for the Städel School in Frankfurt.  For Felix, this was one of the greatest honors bestowed upon him at the time.  Sadly, like many of Schlag’s early works in Germany, there is no record remaining.  Emails to the library of the Städelschule (bibliothek@staedelschule.de) in February 2014 to inquire about the “Reclining Figure” sculpture resulted in the advisement that neither the Städelschule nor the Städelmuseum had any record of Schlag or the sculpture.  All paper records were reportedly destroyed in World War II.

Source(s):
Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.

 Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

"Second SCFC Commemorative Sculptured by Felix Schlag of Jefferson Nickel Fame."  Societe Commemorative de Femmes Celebres.  Newsletter Vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1966), p. 5-8.

Segel, Joseph M., Jack Hamilton, George A. Beach, and Edwin S. Trautman.  The National Commemorative Society and its First Fifty Issues. Philadelphia, PA:  National Historical Association, 1969, pp. 62, 104, 126.

Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).
 

1929  
Historic passenger manifests suggest that Felix and Anna Schlag boarded the S.S. Deutschland (Hamburg America Line), departing Hamburg, Germany on February 1, 1929 bound for the port of New York, United States.  The vessel likely sailed a course north on the Elbe river, into the North Sea, through the Ijsselmeer Lagoon, southwest through the English Channel and across the Bay of Biscay, before beginning the westward journey across the North Atlantic to New York.

The February 11, 1929 issue of the New York Times (page 21) announced the arrival of the S.S. Deutschland.  When taking into account the estimated distance from port to port of 4200 nautical miles (http://www.ports.com), it is consistent that a ship traveling around 15 knots could complete the journey in just less than 12 days.

Felix Schlag S.S. Deutschland
The manifest lists 37 year old Felix as being a gardener, able to read, and having been born in Frankfurt.  Anna was listed as his wife, being age 31, and having been born in Muenchen (Munich).  Both Felix and Anna were hailing from Unterhaching, a district of Munich.  Felix was described as being 5’-5” and Anna was slightly taller at 5’-7”.  The Deutschland’s manifest indicates that Felix and Anna were staying with Else Treiling, Felix’s sister, at her home located on 416 E.52nd Street, New York, NY.  This is consistent with what Riviere’s report that Felix and Anna briefly lived with Felix's sister in New York upon their arrival.  The document also lists Felix’s brother, Hans, living at Egenolffst 15, Frankfurt, Germany as the nearest point of contact from their departure port.

On July 2, 1929 a 45 year old and married Natalja Sztrunk (Natalea Strunk) and a 21 year old and single Natalja Sztrunk (Natalea "Nellie" Strunk) would board the S.S. George Washington in Bremen, Germany.  They listed themselves as residents of Poland and of German descent.  The younger Natalja identified her occupation as a dress maker.  After nine days at sea, they arrived in the port of New York on July 11, 1929.  They would join Gustav at 1571 Dodge Avenue in Evanston, ILL.  Nellie was reportedly 5’-3” tall with blue eyes and blond hair. 

In September of 1929, Felix, a designer, and Anna were living at 71 Yale Street, Meriden Connecticut.  The house, built in 1895, still stands today.  Anna, 32 years old, gave birth to a daughter, Hilda Eleanor Schlag (September 17, 1929 - July 16, 2012) at the Meriden Hospital.  Hilda was listed as the third child of Anna, and all three children were described as living.  This confirms the existence of two siblings; however, there are no records of any children traveling with Felix and Anna from Germany to the United States.  Perhaps they were left in Germany and Felix and Anna planned to send for them after they got settled in the U.S.  Analyzing Hilda's conception date (December 1928) suggests that Anna was just a few weeks pregnant when they made their journey across the Atlantic.  Anna may not have been aware that she was with child when they left.

On January 30, 1929, Gustav Strunk, Felix’s father-in-law by his second wife, became a U.S. citizen.  He was living at 1571 Dodge Avenue in Evanston, ILL at the time.

Source(s):
Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

Passenger Manifest of the S.S. Deutschland, February 1, 1929.  "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957."  FamilySearch (http://FamilySearch.org). Citing Immigration and Naturalization Service. National Archives, Washington D.C.

Certified transcription of birth certificate for Hilda Eleanor Schlag, Cert no. 542 (September 17, 1929), Connecticut Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Meriden City, CT, USA.

 “Six Liners in Today; One off on Cruise.” New York Times February 11, 1929: Page 21.

Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).

Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

Certificate of Arrival for Felix Schlag, Cert no. 11-98789 (May 26, 1934), U.S. Department of Labor Immigration and Naturalization Service, USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.

Petition for Naturalization for Felix Schlag, Cert no. 161775 (November 4, 1937), District Court of The United States of Chicago, Ill., USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.

https://www.google.com/maps?q=71+Yale+Street,+Meriden,+CT&hl=en&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=58.555544,114.169922&oq=71+Yale+Street,+Meri&t=h&hnear=71+Yale+St,+Meriden,+Connecticut+06450&z=17

http://gis.meridenct.gov/meriden/PropertySearch.aspx


Passenger Manifest of the S.S. George Washington, July 2, 1929.  "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957."  FamilySearch (http://FamilySearch.org). Citing Immigration and Naturalization Service. National Archives, Washington D.C.

 

1930 - 1936
 
The 15th Census of the United States, conducted in April of 1930, lists a 39 year old Felix Schlag as living at 12 Howe Street, Meriden, Connecticut. He was reportedly paying $30 per month in rent and working as a sculptor at a "silver company."  This could have been the Regal Silver Manufacturing Company, later renamed the Majestic Silver Company, founded in 1910 in New Haven, Connecticut by M.L. Baker.

There are reports that at some point Anna returned to Germany with Hilda (Wascher and Bukowski) and Schlag’s naturalization paperwork confirms that Anna, along with all three children, were living in Munich as of April 16, 1934.  While Felix still described himself as married on the 1930 census, there were no other Schlag's listed on the sheet.  One could speculate that Anna left the U.S. with Hilda prior to April 1930; explaining why Felix did not include them in the report.  Perhaps she went to Germany to show the new baby to family and to fetch the other children.  Perhaps the Great Depression was too much for her and she left Felix to return home.  Her departure may explain why Felix’s address changed from Yale Street, seemingly a much larger house suitable for a family, to Howe Street.  It does seem certain that Anna would not return and Hilda would not come back to the U.S. until 1946.

An August 24, 1935 Works Progress Administration (WPA) Certification of Eligibility form for Felix Schlag lists his marital status as divorced.  Divorce rates were climbing in the early 1930’s as more liberal laws took effect.  An official search of the Cook County Illinois divorce records from 1929-1940 found no record of Felix and Anna’s divorce in this jurisdiction.  It could be that the petition was filed in Connecticut, where they had last lived together, or that no official divorce was granted in the United States.

Reviewing the 1930 and 1940 Census’ along with Schlag’s naturalization paperwork, it can be determined that at some point between April 1930 and September 1930 Felix moved to Cook County, Illinois.  His August 1934 Declaration of Intention listed an address of 1725 W. Wilson Avenue, Chicago, Ill.  The photo to the left was included with the Declaration of Intention submission and is likely from the early 1930's. 

Schlag’s Petition for Naturalization indicates that in November of 1932 he was still living in Chicago.  By April 1935 Felix had moved about 5 miles south and east to 245 W. North Avenue, Chicago, Illinois; the address he would maintain at least through the April 1940 Census and possibly until 1941 when he and his third wife, Ethel, moved to Elk Rapids, Michigan. Based on a copyright filing from August 1941, it seems Felix and Ethel were in Chicago, until late summer 1941.  Presumably, they moved to Elk Rapids in time for the school year to begin in the fall of 1941.

Schlag’s naturalization petition also indicates that as of November 1, 1932 he was working as a sculptor for the Federal Art Project (FAP) for Peter Paul Ott (supervisor) who lived in Evanston, Ill.

Articles from the July 10, 1966 issue of the Detroit News and the July 2, 1976 copy of The Argus-Press, along with the U.S. Mint’s website indicate that Schlag worked briefly as an “auto stylist” for General Motors (GM).  During his talks in the 1960’s Schlag also indicated that he was, “always on the move,” living in, “New York, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Chicago.”  Presumably, he lived in Detroit while working for GM implying this would have been sometime between 1930 and 1935.  Three attempts to confirm Schlag’s employment with GM, including a final plea in March 2014 to the CEO, have been denied, citing corporate policy.  Email requests to the U.S. Mint in January 2014 have gone unacknowledged / unanswered.

In 1931, it is known that Schlag was a member of the Illinois Academy of Fine Arts where he was allegedly able to exhibit a piece of sculpture called “In Memory.” He apparently won 1st Prize for this piece, which would have made it his first recorded award in the United States.  Interestingly enough, this award was not mentioned by Schlag in the biography he supplied to the Section of Fine Arts in June 1939.  Likewise, the Art Institute of Chicago has no record of the work.

Note: If anyone has a picture or description of the “In Memory” sculpture, please contact us.

A review of the Library of Congress’ Catalog of Copyright Entries For the Year 1935 (Part 4, Volume 30) indicates that Gair Manufacturing Company submitted a copyright registration, which was received on November 7, 1935, for a sculpture by Felix Schlag entitled, “The Brown bomber.”  An analysis of the Application for Copyright reveals that the work was an 11.75” high statue (sculpture) representing a prize fighter in a fighting pose.  The piece was no doubt of Joe Louis, the famous pugilist of this era known as the “Brown Bomber.”  Record of the Gair Manufacturing Company is proving difficult to find, but based on census data, the filer, Frank E. Gairing, seems to have run a successful wholesale and mail order business dating back to at least 1910.  It should be noted that Joe Louis was a very popular subject in 1935 and no less than a dozen copyrights were filed for various Brown Bomber statues and other Louis memorabilia.

Note: If anyone has a picture of Schlag’s “Brown Bomber,” please contact us.

A review of the Library of Congress’ Catalog of Copyright Entries For the Year 1936 (Part 4, Volume 31) indicates that Schlag submitted a copyright registration, which was received on March 28, 1936, for an unpublished work he referred to as, “Group of three ladies [heads].”  An evaluation of the Copyright Record Book for Works of Art; Models or Designs for Works of Art for 1936 finds that the piece is a sculpture which Schlag described as follows, “Group of three ladies [heads] in one unit. All three looking forward.”  The entry seems to indicate that two photos were submitted with the application for copyright; however, the Copyright office did not include these in their archives.  It is possible they are held within the wider collections of the Prints and Photographs department; however, they were not readily available or cataloged in any manner that allowed for easy retrieval and viewing. 

Note: If anyone has a picture of the “Group of three ladies,”  please contact us.

The 15th Census of the United States, conducted on April 28, 1930 in Evanston, Ill., lists a 47 year old Gustaf (Gustav) Slrunk (Strunk) as renting a home for $35 per month at 1519 Greenleaf Street along with his wife, Natalie (44), and daughter, Nellie (22). Gustav was a janitor at a public school, a citizen, and able to speak English. Natalie and Nellie were both employed at a dress shop as a sales lady and a seamstress respectively; neither could speak English.

Per the 1930 census, Felix’s future wife, Ethel Levin, was living in Bellaire Village within Kearney Township, Michigan.  She was 23 years old, single and a boarder in the Wilkinson household working as a public school teacher.  It appears that her 17 year old sister, Esther, was living with her as well.

Source(s):
Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.

United States. Bureau of the Census .  “15th Census of the United States. 1930 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule)”, Meriden City, New Haven, Connecticut, Ward 5, Enumeration District 5-168, Sheet 19B, Dwelling 14 Howe Street, Schlag, Felix household. National Archives, Washington, DC, online database, <http://www.archive.org/>.

United States. Bureau of the Census .  “15th Census of the United States. 1930 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule)”, Bellaire Village, Kearney Township, Antrim, Michigan, Enumeration District 5-13, Sheet 1B, Dwelling 28, Wilkinson, Byron household. National Archives, Washington, DC, online database, <http://www.archive.org/>.

United States. Bureau of the Census.  “15th Census of the United States. 1930 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule)”, Evanston City, Evanston Township, Cook County, Illinois, Enumeration District 16-2131, Sheet 26B, Dwelling 428, Slrunk, Gustaf household. National Archives, Washington, DC, online database, <http://www.archive.org/>.

Bukowski, Art. ”A Lasting Legacy: Longtime Owosso resident designed Jefferson Nickel.”  The Argus-Press [Owosso, MI].  September 30, 2007:  Sec.C, p. 1. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=6WUiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5KwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3333%2C2086595
Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).

Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).

Library of Congress. Copyright Office.  Catalog of Copyright Entries Part 4, Volume 30, Nos. 1-4, For the Year 1935.  Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1935, pp. 167.  http://archive.org/details/catalogofcopyrig304libr

Library of Congress. Copyright Office.  Catalog of Copyright Entries Part 4, Volume 31, No. 1, For the Year 1936.  Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1936, pp. 12.  http://archive.org/details/catalogofcopyrig314libr

Library of Congress, Catalog of Copyright Entries Part 4, Volume 36, No. 9, For the Year 1941.  Government Printing Office. Washington, D.C., 1941. p. 333. http://archive.org/details/catalogofcopyrig364libr

Certificate of Arrival for Felix Schlag, Cert no. 11-98789 (May 26, 1934), U.S. Department of Labor Immigration and Naturalization Service, USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.

Declaration of Intention for Felix Schlag, Cert no. 96531 (August 16, 1934), District Court of The United States of Chicago, Ill. (Northern District of Illinois), USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.

Petition for Naturalization for Felix Schlag, Cert no. 161775 (November 4, 1937), District Court of The United States of Chicago, Ill., USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.

TBD Email from Wascher about Anna

TBD Ships manifest 1946 Hilda’s return

TBD Detroit News article about GM work

TBD US Mint information about GM work

TBD Argus Press 1976-07-02 Argus-Press

 

1937 - 1939
 



Look for an article published in two parts in the Spring and Summer 2015 issues of The MichMatist, the magazine of the Michigan State Numismatic Society, entitled, "Influencing Mind and Spirit:  Admire the Coin, Understand and Appreciate the Artist."


The piece covers Schlag's work at the White Hall, Illinois Post Office.

The Numismatist
A detailed account of activities leading up to the birth of the Jefferson Nickel, entitled The Path to the Jefferson Nickel, was originally published in the November 2015 issue of The Numismatist.

Source(s):
TBD

 


1940 - 1950
 
The 16th Census of the Unites States, conducted in April of 1940, lists a 48 year old "Felex" (Felix) Schlag as living at 245 W. North Avenue in Chicago, Illinois' Cook County.  An address he had maintained at least since April 1, 1935.  Schlag, a widower, was a sculptor employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Federal Arts projects, where he earned $968 in 1939.

We know that from November 25 – December 1, 1940 Schlag took part in National Art Week for the Art Institute of Chicago.  Reports indicate he complete a relief of three life size runners for the Art Project Gallery in 1940.  This piece is potentially what he exhibited during National Art Week.

On August 30, 1941 a copyright request was filed by Madrid Cortes and Reims Arbor of Chicago, Ill. For a statuette by Felix Schlag entitled, Lincoln in Thought.  The piece was described in the application as “Abraham Lincoln standing hatless [with a] neck shawl extending to [his] waist with [a] hand on each coat lapel.”

Note: If anyone has a picture of Schlag's “Lincoln in Thought,” please contact us.

On March 6, 1942 Felix submitted a copyright application for a sculptured model he called, “Heraldic American eagle.”  The sculpture was described as a “Heraldic American Eagle, holding a snake in its claws, [with an] American Shield in [the] center, [colored] red, white, and blue.”  Felix listed Elk Rapids, Michigan as his address on the application.  As with his previous application, he seemingly submitted a photograph; however, the Copyright office did not include it in their archives.  It is possible it is held within the wider collections of the Prints and Photographs department; however, they were not readily available or cataloged in any manner that allowed for easy retrieval and viewing. 

Note: If anyone has a picture of Schlag's “Heraldic American Eagle,” please contact us.

Tragically, on April 8, 1945 Felix's son, Leo, passed away just one month shy of his 24th birthday and the end of World War II.  He was a Corporal in the German army and died while in Austria.  His records imply that he was located in the Markt Allhau and Oststeiermark (now Styria) regions of Austria.  While it is unconfirmed, his location at the time of his death suggests that he likely was killed during the Soviet led Vienna Offensive (April 2-13, 1945).  Leo is buried in the War Cemetery in Mattersburg, Austria (Block 4, Row 12, Grave 852).

Source(s):
United States. Bureau of the Census .  “16th Census of the United States. 1940 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule)”, Chicago,Cook, Illinois, Ward 43, Enumeration District 103-2759, Sheet 14A, Dwelling 245 W. North Avenue, Schlag, Felex [Felix] household. National Archives, Washington, DC, online database, <http://www.archive.org/>.

https://www.google.com/maps?q=245+West+North+Avenue,+Chicago,+Illinois&hl=en&sll=41.539468,-72.790914&sspn=0.006794,0.013937&oq=245+W.+North+Avenue+in+Chicago,+Illinois&hnear=245+W+North+Ave,+Chicago,+Cook,+Illinois+60610&t=m&z=17

Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

TBD: AIC Flyer on Art Week

German War Graves Commission (http://www.volksbund.de/graebersuche.html)

Library of Congress, Catalog of Copyright Entries Part 4, Volume 36, No. 9, For the Year 1941.  Government Printing Office. Washington, D.C., 1941. p. 333. http://archive.org/details/catalogofcopyrig364libr

Library of Congress, Catalog of Copyright Entries Part 4, Volume 37, No. 3, For the Year 1942.  Government Printing Office. Washington, D.C., 1942. p. 68.
http://archive.org/details/catalogofcopyrig374libr
 

March 1965  
Herbert C. Hoover:  Silver Medal of the National Commemorative Society, United States, 1874 - 1964.  1965.160.2.  This was the 8th commemorative struck by the society, receiving 1,425 votes in the November 1964 ballot (Andreas).  5,249 of these coin-medals were minted as solid sterling silver proofs, and 3 were created as solid platinum proofs.

Source(s):
Numismatic Issues Of The Franklin Mint 1969 Edition (Covering The Years 1965-1969).  Yeadon, PA:  The Franklin Mint, Inc., 1969, pp. 7.

 

February 1966
   
From August 19-22, 1964 the American Numismatic Association (A.N.A.) held a conference in Cleveland, Ohio.  Feilx Schlag was one of the speakers at the educational forum, and during this discussion he presented one of the few extensive autobiographical accounts of his life that has been captured.  The September 2, 1964 issue of Coin World magazine offered a summary of the speech and the January 1965 edition of the Numismatist presented a detailed transcript entitled, "The Story of the Jefferson Nickel."

The audio recording below was released by Vantage Records in early 1966 as confirmed by a February 8, 1966 St. Petersburg Times article by Chuck Ober.  It is unknown when the actual recording was made.
 
Felix Schlag
 
Felix Schlag
 
Felix Schlag
 
Transcript from the recording

 Listen to the audio

 Text from the album jacket
     
"I am Felix Schlag designer of the Jefferson Nickel. In 1938 an American numismatic event moved me into the spotlight. It was the winning of the first and only open competition for a coin that was ever held in the United States.

To impress upon you that the winning of the competition was more than just an accidental achievement I shall relay to you something of my background. I have won more than 15 monetary awards and numerous honorable mentions all in open competitions here and abroad. I studied at the former Royal Academy of Art in Munich for seven years. It was at that time an exclusive school of classical tradition. Emphasis was placed on the spatial relationship of sculpture. My background would not be complete without my reference to my experience as a front line soldier in World War I, my long hospitalization due to shrapnel wounds, my convalescence, and my struggle to adjust to normal life.

It was during the latter part of my recovery that I won first prize for my models for a monumental fountain and first prize for the design of a Red Cross medal. The 1918-1919 revolution had very direct and serious effects on my entire life. Another facet touches on my experience as a mountain climber in the European Alps. Mountain climbing is exhilarating and challenging and it presents unforeseen dangers. It is like a call or defense to a personal contest. All these events influenced my mind and spirit. My attitude towards life and prepared me well to endure the hardships and struggle of life when at times everything around me seemed to crash.

In the 1930’s, during the depression years, the life of most sculptors was rather hard, not all lived in splendor. Sometimes I worked in ivory, window display, silver, or other media. I was always on the move. New York, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and back to Chicago where I finally rented a studio, found artist friends, living on big hopes and working long hours.

Artists love good conversation. Our talks were interesting and lively. Our aims were always high. The works of great artists of bygone days were our inspiration. In the 1930’s the Section of Fine Arts in Washington sent leaflets to artists announcing competitions and news pertaining to art. Late in 1937 or early 1938 the department invited all American sculptors to compete for a new five cents coin to be known as the Jefferson nickel. Prospective competitors were admonished that there were specific legal and other conditions which must be accurately complied with in creating a model; and that before proceeding competitors should get the specifications. After receiving the detailed form announcement regarding subject matter, size of models, coinage rules, etc. I made a series of pencil sketches without having an actual portrait in mind; just the composition. But the fundamental object for me was to find the likeness that portrayed the character and strong facial features of the great American as I saw him. None of the portraits of Jefferson in my collection satisfied me. In my search I read everything I could find about Jefferson. I felt that unless I could somehow discover what I was looking for, my participation in the competition was uncertain. About ten o’clock one evening, after a hard day’s work, I entered an old bookstore in my neighborhood to browse. To my surprise and excitement, the first magazine I opened contained a portrait of Jefferson that inspired me in which I intuitively knew depicted the noble qualities of the true American statesman. That part of the competition, that search was over and my decision to compete was certain.

In an open competition one has to strive harder than when the commission is given outright to a favorite son. In an open competition the winning design is bound to be criticized more severely. Contemplate the disappointment of the other artists in the competition who worked also hard but received no compensation whatsoever. In submitting the designs all the names of the participants were in individual sealed envelopes so that the jurors could not be influenced by the name of someone they knew. As I was occupied with other sculptural projects I was forced to work on the Jefferson nickel in the time spot from 10:00 PM until four o’clock in the morning.

The competition requirements were to submit the obverse and reverse sides of the coin. The subject matter of the obverse called for an authentic portrait of Jefferson, the reverse side a representation of Monticello. The sculptor whose design won was required to execute a formal contract with the Treasury Department agreeing among other things to make any revisions required by the Secretary of the Treasury without receiving any additional compensation. The models, in order to be acceptable, had to be of plaster not exceeding 8 ½ inches in diameter the extreme depth of the relief 5/32 of an inch. There were 390 pairs of models submitted. The reason for the large number of entries being the depression, the prize money, and the genuine desire to create a new coin breaking with the traditional design. The best sculptors in the country competed.

April 20, 1938 I received a telegram from the Superintendent of the Section of Painting and Sculpture asking for my biography and the next day a telephone call to give me the good news that I had won the competition. But changes were requested. It meant starting all over again. July 21, 1938 Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, then director of the mint, advised me that the acting Secretary of the Treasury had approved my new models and Philadelphia was being instructed to surrender the prize money of $1,000.

The publicity brought me commissions; the future seemed bright and promising. Then World War II came. Interest in art was dropped and my economic situation became desperate. Since early youth photography was my hobby. I used it to photograph my own work. Now at the age of 50 it appeared to be the only avenue of livelihood left to me. I opened my own portrait studio in Owosso, Michigan. Luck was with me. My business was successful. There were offers of sculpture, but I refused them as none were definite commissions.

In 1960 I retired from photography. Then the Jefferson nickel popped up again. I was rediscovered due to the upsurge of interest in coins. There were letters and requests for my signature from collectors. Speaking engagements for me were arranged by coin clubs. There was newspaper and magazine publicity again. I enjoyed this new wave of popularity more than that which was accorded me in 1938.

The Jefferson nickel did not make me rich and the trials and tribulations of a sculptor’s life have not made me bitter toward life; far from it. I still keep looking in the sky and at the stars and still admire the often monumental beauty of all creation. It is my belief that open competitions for government coins and projects should be encouraged to give young artists an opportunity instead of designating all the work to a few selected people. There should be a wider award system to compensate for ability, quality, and originality. The nation needs artists’ talent and it is only possible to have the advantage of creative ability if you support artists and sculptors as we do craftsman and professionals in other fields of endeavor."
Vantage Recording Company
 
Proudly Presents

The Jefferson Nickel Story
 

<>

Late in 1937, The Section of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. invited American sculptors to participate in an open competition for the design of a new five cents coin to be known as the Jefferson Nickel. This was the first time that the design of an American coin had been submitted for open competition and design by a person outside the official staff of the sculptors and engravers regularly employed by the United States Mint.

Since its original issue, the Jefferson Nickel has been struck more than 7 billion times.

Yes, as familiar as this coin is in our everyday currency, the true story behind its design had become obscured by time until 1964 when Felix Oscar Schlag was rediscovered by a group of devoted Numismatists.

National attention was accorded both the man and his work, and Felix Schlag soon rocketted into the coin world limelight with speaking engagements, magazine articles, and personal appearances.

This recording is an important documentation of the true story behind the creation of the Jefferson Nickel. What is more significant is that it is told by the actual designer in his own word offering an unparalleled contribution to Numismatic archives.

June 1966  
Betsy Ross:  Silver Medal of the National Commemorative Society, United States, 1752 - 1836.  1966.235.1.  This was originally commissioned by the Societe Commemorative de Femmes Celebres.  It was their second medal struck to honor famous women, receiving 918 votes in the January/February 1966 ballot.  3,220 of these coin-medals were minted as solid sterling silver proofs, and 3 were created as solid platinum proofs.

Source(s):
Numismatic Issues Of The Franklin Mint 1969 Edition (Covering The Years 1965-1969).  Yeadon, PA:  The Franklin Mint, Inc., 1969, pp. 21.


“Betsy Ross and Madame Curie to be Next Two Subjects.”  Newsletter of The Societe Commemorative de Femmes Celebres.   Volume 1, Number 1, Page 1. March, 1966.

“Second SCFC Commemorative Sculptured by Felix Schlag of Jefferson Nickel Fame.”  Newsletter of The Societe Commemorative de Femmes Celebres.   Volume 1, Number 2, Page 1. June, 1966.

 

March 1967  
Paul Revere:  Silver Medal of the International (Free Mason) Fraternal Commemorative Society, United States.  This was the fourth commemorative struck by the society, receiving 618 votes in the November/December 1966 ballot (Andreas).   Only 1,266 of these coin-medals were minted as solid sterling silver proofs.

Source(s):
Numismatic Issues Of The Franklin Mint 1969 Edition (Covering The Years 1965-1969).  Yeadon, PA:  The Franklin Mint, Inc., 1969, pp. 28.


 

February 1968  
Chief John Big Tree:  Silver Medal of the National Commemorative Society, United States.  1968.117.1.  This was the 43rd commemorative struck by the society, receiving 1,245 votes in the September 1967 ballot.  Felix Schlag was announced as the sculptor in the November 1967 National Commemorative Society Newsletter.  Reportedly, Schlag was in poor health and almost did not accept the commission.  5,249 of these coin-medals were minted as solid sterling silver proofs, and 3 were created as solid platinum proofs. 

Source(s):
Numismatic Issues Of The Franklin Mint 1969 Edition (Covering The Years 1965-1969).  Yeadon, PA:  The Franklin Mint, Inc., 1969, pp. 16.

“Chief John Big Tree Selected by NCS Members for 43rd Commemorative.”  Newsletter of The National Commemorative Society.  Volume 4, Number 8, Page 2. September, 1967.

“Felix Schlag to Sculpt Chief John Big Tree Commemorative.”  Newsletter of The National Commemorative Society.  Volume 4, Number 10, Page 1. September, 1967.


 

1969  
Returned to Frankfurt with Ethel.

Source(s):
Riviere, Theodore. "This man called Felix Oscar Schlag." PAK. Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 1 (Oct. 1980), p. 7-10, Vol. 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1980), p. 9-12, Vol. 4, no. 12 (Dec. 1980), p. 4-6.  [note: PAK was the newsletter of the Full Step Jefferson Nickel Club. PAK is derived from the initials of the founders: Philip Petrillo, Adolf Weiss, and Karl Nenninger.]

 

1974  
Felix Oskar Schlag passed away on March 9, 1974 in Owosso, Michigan.

Source(s):
”Schlag Services Held Sunday.”  The Argus-Press [Owosso, MI]. No. 59 (March 11, 1974):  Sec. 1, p. 3. < http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=bO_hriczGZwC&dat=19740311&printsec=frontpage&hl=en>

 

1994  
Ethel "Minnie" Levin Schlag passed away on July 24, 1994 in a nursing home in Norridge, Illinois.

Source(s):
”Death Notices: Ethel Schlag.”  The Argus-Press [Owosso, MI]. Edition 203 (July 26, 1994):  Sec. 1, p. 2. <http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8z8iAAAAIBAJ&sjid=yKwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3603%2C2215694>

 

2012
 
Hilda Eleanor Schlag Hein passed away on July 16, 2012.

Source(s):
TBD

 






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