Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Augustus J. Robinson

Augustus Joseph Robinson was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 28, 1886, according to the City of Boston Birth Records at His parents were Frederick and Sarah.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Robinson was the second of three children. Their father was a messenger. The family lived in Boston at 184 Webster Street.

Robinson was a clerk, at 180 Devonshire, according to the 1906 Boston city directory. He resided at his parents’ home.

In 1910, Robinson was at the same address but employed as a “checker” at a “freight shed”. His employment as a stereotyper, in the printing trade, was listed in the 1913 through 1916 city directories. His address was 641 South Street, his parents’ home.

On June 5, 1917, Robinson signed his World War I draft card which had his birth year as 1888. His address was unchanged but his occupation was commercial artist at the Denninson Manufacturing Company. His description was five feet six inches, slender build with blue eyes and light brown hair. According to the Boston Traveler, October 12, 1963, he was a navy veteran and “official illustrator for the First Naval District”. Information regarding his art training has not been found.

The 1920 census recorded Robinson as part of his parents’ household. He was a designer in the engraving industry. The city directory, of the same year, listed him twice: “Augustus A”, commercial designing; and “Augustus J”, artist. The 1922 and 1925 directories had two listings for him: “Augustus J (Bob Robinson)” and “Bob (Augustus J Robinson) commercial artist”, both working at 170 Summer, room 327.

Robinson has not yet been found in the 1930 census. According to the 1934 city directory, the artist continued to live at his parents’ address. He had an entry in the Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, Etc., 1931, New Series, Volume 26, Number 4:

Robinson (Augustus Joseph) Roslindale, Mass. 10626-1963[?] (Famous American ships) :Fore-word, etc.—Mary Celeste (Brigantine)—Olympia (Cruiser) Sovereign of the Seas (Ship)—Trenton (U.S.S.) © Oct. 16, 1931; 2 c each Dec. 28; K 15364–15368.

Robinson’s navy background and experience proved useful in his Sunday page, Decks Awash, which began November 16, 1935. A few of those strips, and the topper, Sailor’s Knots, were reprinted in the comic book, The Comics, in 1938.

At some point, Robinson married Mary Sullivan. They were listed in the 1939 city directory at 273 Chestnut Avenue. He was a junior draftsman at the “US Govt Eng’s office”.

The couple’s address was the same in the 1940 census. Robinson was a map draftsman in geodetic survey. His World War II draft recorded his home address as 641 South Street. He was employed at Massachusetts Geodetic Survey in Cambridge.

He continued work as a draftsman. A 1945 city directory said he lived at 9 Rawston Road. Robinson had an exhibit at Paine Furniture Company, which ran an advertisement in the Boston Traveler, October 25, 1945.

He copyrighted a color print in 1948.

Around 1946, Robinson moved to New Hampshire. The 1952 and 1960 Exeter city directories listed his address as Robin Road and occupation as artist.

Robinson passed away October 11, 1963, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His death was reported the following day in the Boston Traveler.

A.J. Robinson, 70, Marine Artist and U.S. Navy Veteran 

Rye, N.H.—Augustus J. Robinson, 70, of 12 Robin Rd., a marine artist, died Friday at Portsmouth Hospital. 

Born in Boston, he moved here from the Roslindale section of the city 17 years ago. He was formerly artist on the now defunct Boston Post. 

A World War I Navy veteran, he was the official illustrator for the First Naval District. 

He was a member of the Roslindale Post, A.L. [American Legion], the Arthur T. Patch Barracks, World War I Veterans; the Portsmouth Art Association and the St. James Holy Name Society in Portsmouth. 

He leaves his wife, Mary (Sullivan); a brother, Frederick A., Jr., of West Roxbury, Mass., and a sister, Mrs. Sarah L. Bertsch of South Natick, Mass.
A solemn high requiem Mass will be sung at 9 a.m. Monday in St. James Church, Portsmouth. Burial will be in Holyhood Cemetery, Brookline, Mass.

—Alex Jay

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