Raymond Edward Shellcope was born in Pennsylvania on June 3, 1879 according to his World War I draft card. There was a “J. Raymond Edward Shellcope”, a Civil War veteran, who may have been his father; other than a pension card, there is no other information about this person. Nothing is known about Shellcope’s art training. His name was recorded in the book, Record of Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Spanish-American War, 1898 (W.S. Ray, State Printer, 1901), on page 49: “SHELLCOPE, Raymond E., Priv. Co. D; Res. Philadelphia, Pa.; Enrd. May 10, 1898; MI May 11, 1898; MO with Co. Oct. 26, 1898.”
|Possibly Shellcope’s first Inquirer appearance, 9/1/1901|
Shellcope’s first strip might be The First Silk Tie in Umboolaland, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on September 1, 1901; it was signed, “R. Edw. Shellcope”. Two more 1901 strips, November 10 and December 15, were signed the same way. In 1902 his signature changed to “Redw. Shellcope”. His first series was The Interfering Idiot, published in 1902-03. It was soon followed by the series Jimmie the Messenger Boy, which began on May 3, 1903 and ended on July 6, 1913.
|The Interfering Idiot, 3/1/1903|
For a few years Shellcope was active in the National Guard. On September 26, 1909, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on one of the Guard’s activities:
The members of Company D, First Infantry, have organized a minstrel troupe and are having a portable stage constructed, on which to give several performances in the company rooms during the winter. The personnel of the troupe is as follows: …interlocutor, Private R.E. Shellcope…
His name was recorded in the book, History of the First Regiment Infantry, National Guard of Pennsylvania (Grey Reserves) 1861-1911 (J.P. Lippincott, 1912). In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census he was a boarder in Philadelphia at 2540 Twenty-Ninth Street; his occupation was artist as a newspaper illustrator. In addition to his Guard duty, Shellcope was an oarsman who participated in many boat races as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer and New York Times.
Shellcope signed his draft card on September 12, 1918. He resided in Philadelphia at 6932 Tulip Road, and gave his occupation as “machine gum” at Henry Disston & Sons, a saw mill. On the line “Nearest Relative” he wrote, “Alas None.” His description was tall, medium build with blue eyes and gray hair.
|First Jimmie the Messenger Boy, 5/3/1903|
In the 1920 census Shellcope was at the same address as above; his name was recorded as Redwood and occupation as artist at the saw mill. Around 1922 Shellcope married Marie Carter, who was a graduate (date unknown) of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. A close examination of the census record finds a “Marie Carter” who lived at 6950 Tulip Road, a few houses from Shellcope. She, too, worked at the saw mill, as a bookkeeper. Of particular interest is her father’s sister, Elmira, an artist and art teacher, who was part of the Carter household for over 20 years. Undoubtably, Elmira’s presence influenced Marie. Years later Shellcope and Marie’s names were listed in the Ocean City Directory 1928 (New Jersey); they lived and worked, handling art goods, at 1230 Boardwalk.
In 1930 the couple lived in Ocean City at 369 Ocean Avenue. He remained an artist. Marie was 12 years his junior. In Polk’s Ocean City Directory 1937-38, the couple was listed on page 159; they lived at 305 Ocean Avenue.
The date of Shellcope’s passing is not known. In Polk’s Ocean City Directory 1948 on page 226, Marie was listed as the widow of Raymond E. Shellcope; she lived at 309 Ocean Avenue. Based on newspaper articles that mentioned Marie, Shellcope’s passing can be narrowed either to late 1946 or early 1947.
Two 1946 Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger articles dated August 12 and November 1 referred to Marie as Mrs. R.E. Shellcope. The use of her husband’s name indicated he was probably alive at that time.
A few months later in 1947, a Sentinel-Ledger article, dated March 14, gave her name as Mrs. Marie Shellcope. On May 17, the New York Times reported on the New Jersey Women’s Clubs convention in Atlantic City, and identified her as Mrs. M.C. Shellcope. These changes of her name, in the papers, suggest that Shellcope had passed away between November 1946 and March 1947.