Frederic Roderigo Gruger was a very proficient illustrator who, with the exception of a book written by Bennard B. Perlman has received less notice than his skills warrant. The work shown here is what I would call an early 20th Century newspaper style of pen-and-ink drawing, probably with what was called a crow quill (croquille en français) pen on heavy weight smooth drawing paper, often referred to as "cartridge paper."
The illustrations are from a story by Edward W. Townsend in the February 1905 issue of the Century Magazine. Townsend was a veteran Democratic politician from New Jersey who placed the story on the exotic make-believe island of Ka as it was visited by ships of the U.S. Navy to show the flag by way of installing a young American diplomat.
Click on the images to enlarge them.
Click on the image for a better view of the ships.
Detail of an imaginary Ka functionary
The caption for this illustrations reads " 'This is your la-al,' [referring to the wreath she holds] replied the one who had addressed him."
Detail of the hero and a young woman of Ka
Young maidens of Ka
" 'It's like this, Keegan,' Jack explained" [Jack was apparently a New Yorker on board the U.S.S. Cleveland, an American cruiser anchored at Ka.
" 'One must accept care with career,' she coyly replied." Keegan converses with Princess Pali-ulee.
"The language thrilled Monroe, who had written the speech from points by Keegan." Monroe is the U.S. minister, Keegan the young hero of Townsend's yarn.
Frederic Gruger was born in Philadelphia in 1871. He mostly worked for the Saturday Evening Post. but left the Post in 1940 to be one of the illustrators of novels, that King Features adapted for newspapers in cooperation with the Book-of-the-Month Club in those days. He retired from illustration and began teaching at the Pratt Institute in 1946.
The first link to author Ellis Parker Butler has many links to Gruber's illustrations of his stories.
Walt Reed's The Illustrator in America 1900-1960's has this to say of F.R. Gruger --
Frederic Roderigo Gruger (1871-1953) wrote on the subject of illustration for the Encyclopedia Brittanica --
"... Illustration may become a great art, but to become a great art, it must be creative. It cannot compete with the camera in the reporting of facts. It has no business with the outer shell of things at all. It deals with the spirit....The nature of the story portrayed is the measure of the artist who portrays it...."
....He worked in a medium developed out of his earlier work for the Philadelphia Ledger. The drawing was made with Wolff pencil, rubbed with a stump or eraser, oftentimes over an underlying wash, which produced a full range of values, particularly a rich, velvety black. The board itself was an inexpensive cardboard used by newspapers for mounting silver prints. It had a receptive, soft surface and has since become known as "Gruger board."
Gruger got his start with the old Century magazine [as shown above] and worked subsequently for many other publishers and advertisers, but was most closely identified with The Saturday Evening Post.
Italics are mine -- P.G.