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Felix Oskar (Oscar) Schlag

September 4, 1891 (Frankfurt, Germany) - March 9, 1974 (Owosso, Michigan, USA)

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 brother, Carl Friedrich Paul Schlag, who was born August 9, 1882 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Felix's sister, Elsie (Else) Schlag was born on August 17, 1883 in Frankfurt, Germany.  Civil registers of births from Hesse, Germany list her given name as Elsa Maria Margarethe Schlag.

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.

Source(s):
  1.     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.
  2.     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.
  3.     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.
  4.     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.
  5. "United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZJK-436 : 13 March 2018), George Treiling, 1917 - 1918; citing Jersey City no 6, New Jersey, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.) FHL microfilm 1,712,211.
  6. "California Death Index, 1940-1997," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPDY-KZ9 : 26 November 2014), George Treiling, 13 Feb 1960; Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.

1891

Felix
          SchlagFelix Oskar (Oscar) Schlag was born on September 4, 1891 in Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt on the Main River), Germany to Carl (Karl) Friedrich Schlag and Therese Josephine (Fischer) Schlag. The image to the left is of Frankfurt and originates from 1891.  There are many postings across the Internet that list Felix’s 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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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."
Felix
            Schlag

Felix
              Schlag

Felix Schlag

Felix
              Schlag

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

Felix
              Schlag

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

Source(s):
  1.     Baverisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Muchen; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv. Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume 13168. Kriegssstammrolle: BD 1.
  2.     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.
  3.     "Illinois, Northern District Naturalization Index, 1840-1950," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XKG1-1WF), Felix Oskar Schlag, 1938.
  4.     "Strong Jefferson Wins Competition for Schlag." Coin World. June 1962.
  5.     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
  6.     http://sdl.lib.mi.us/surnameindex/result.php?RecID=36510&surname=schlag
  7.     https://sites.google.com/site/scogensoc/
  8.     ”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 Gottlob Schlag, Felix’s bother was born in Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt on the Main River), Germany.

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

1897 - 1908

In 1897, 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.

Felix's brother Otto Friedrich Schlag was born on May 17 (maybe 27), 1902 in Frankfurt, 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.

Felix
            Schlag

Felix
            Schlag
Source(s):
  1. Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.]
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 >.
  7. 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>.
  8. "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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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>.
  11. 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):
  1. Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.]
  4. 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.
  5. "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.
  6. Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).
  7. “New Deal/W.P.A. Artist Biographies.” WPAMurals.com. Web. January 2014. <http://www.wpamurals.com/wpabios.htm>.
  8. Wikipedia contributors. “Arts and Crafts School.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 23 September 2013. Web. 24 February 2014.
  9. 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>.
  10. 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>.
  11. 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 SchlagOn 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):
  1. Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.
  2. 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.]
  3. 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>.
  4. Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).
  5. http://matrikel.adbk.de/
  6. http://matrikel.adbk.de/07lehrer/lehrer/kurz-erwin
  7. http://matrikel.adbk.de/05ordner/mb_1884-1920/jahr_1912/matrikel-05114
  8. http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/bsb00004662/images/index.html?id=00004662&fip=217.237.113.238&no=&seite=424
  9. 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 and subsequently included in the American Numismatic Associations Money Museum World War I exhibit online.

Felix SchlagThe map in this section highlights the European cities and towns Schlag and his unit traversed during his tour.  An abbreviated timeline of Schlag’s military service follows:

October 23, 1913 – Reported for active duty
    Trained on 98/09, a 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, France

August 10, 1914 – Chateau-Salins, France

August 19, 1914 – Sent to Border protection command post in Lothringen (Lorraine), France. 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, France

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

September 6-10, 1914 Cassis Framboise, France

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

September 21, 1914 – Arrived in Dinant, Belgium

German soldiers march towards Albert, France 1914September 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.

Felix SchlagJune 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




Felix's brother Carl died on September 4, 1914.  It is unknown at this time if he was a casualty of the war or if he died of natural causes.  He would have been 32 years old.
Felix Schlag
Felix
            Schlag
Felix
            Schlag
Felix
            Schlag
Felix
            Schlag
Felix Schlag

Source(s):
  1. Baverisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Muchen; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv. Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume 13168. Kriegssstammrolle: BD 1.
  2. Baverisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Muchen; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv. Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume 14335. Kriegssstammrolle: BD 5.
  3. Ancestry.com. Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
  4. German soldiers marching toward Albert, France. [Between 1914 and 1918] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2005697193/>.

1916 - 1919

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.

By 1917, we know that Felix was in Munich showcasing some work during the annual Art Exhibition at the Glass Palace.  This was the first Glass Palace show that he participated in and the earliest official record found of Schlag partaking in exhibitions and confirms he was living in Munich at this time.  The event ran from July 1, 1917 to September 30, 1917.  Schlag was entry number 1154 and displayed a terracotta sculpture of a female bust.  No photograph was included in the 1917 catalog. 

Schlag did not participate in the 1918 show, but would return for the 1919 exhibition; also held during the July - September time frame.  As entry number 985, he would display a plaster sculpture of a female figure entitled, "Liegende" or "Lying."  A photograph of this piece was displayed in the exhibit's catalog and is included below.  This is the oldest work of Schlag's that we have a photograph of.

Felix SchlagDuring a series of talks in the 1960's, Schlag would state that, “it was during the latter part of my recovery [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 in Frankfurt, Germany <http://www.frankfurt.de/> 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 confirmed specimens or images of this piece at this time. In 2018 the medal shown here was located online from a store in Germany.  The medal bears Schlag's signature (F. Schl.) and seemingly originates from the proper time period.  Unfortunately, it is unknown if Ernst Arthur Naake was in any way affiliated with the German Red Cross.  The inscription on the reverse of this medal includes three words, "aufwärts", "zielwärts", and "vorwärts" which loosely translates to "forward and upwards."  Again, it is unknown if this inspirational slogan was in any way associated with the German Red Cross.

Ernst Arthur
          Knaake    Ernst Arthur Naake

For the curious; Red Cross Medals were typically awarded to those who demonstrated exceptional service to the sick or to the German Red Cross in particular. 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 <http://www.jkmilitaria.com/> 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.

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”

Felix
            Schlag

Felix
            Schlag

Felix
            Schlag

Felix
            Schlag

Felix
            Schlag

Source(s):
  1. Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.
  2. 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.]
  3. 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.
  4. "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.
  5. Becker, Thomas. “Felix Schlag creates the Jefferson Nickel.” Coinage. Vol. 9, Issue 2. February 1973.
  6. "Felix Schlag Captures Audience During Forum." Coin World. Page 54. September 2, 1964.
  7. Schlag, Felix. “The Story of the Jefferson Nickel.” The Numismatist. Vol. 78, Issue 2, pp. 11-14. January 1965.
  8. Wikipedia contributors. "Red Cross Medal (Prussia)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 May. 2013. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
  9. Wikipedia contributors. "German Revolution of 1918–19." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
  10. http://www.jkmilitaria.com
  11. http://www.richardjordan.com
  12. http://www.themedalhound.com/
  13. https://www.digitale-sammlungen.de/index.html?c=kurzauswahl&adr=www.bayerische-landesbibliothek-online.de/glaspalast/
  14. http://www.bayerische-landesbibliothek-online.de/glaspalast/

1920 - 1923

From 1920 - 1922 Schlag was 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, Felicitas "Felicy", a daughter, 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.

The 1920 annual Art Exhibition at the Glass Palace in Munich would once again feature a piece by Schlag.  Per usual, the exhibit ran from July 1 to September 30 and Schlag's plaster sculpture, "Selbstbildnis" or "Self Portrait" was entry number 1182.  No photograph was included in the 1920 catalog.

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

In a piece published online by Dr. Gerhard Hanke (<http://www.zeitschrift-amperland.de/download_pdf.php?id=1118>) entitled, "Heimkehrer-und Gefallenenehrung nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg in Dachau" (Return home and fallen honor after the First World War in Dachau), there is a mention of Felix Schlag on page 3, column 2 under the section heading, "Das Kunstler Preisausschreiben" (The Artist Competition).  This section ultimately cites "StadtADah Fach 9/18" as the original source of the information on the war memorial competition in Dachau.  The contest winners were announced on June 6, 1921 and Felix Schlag, along with sculptor Eugen Mayer-Fassold, and architect M. Niedermaier were declared the 3rd prize winners.  On June 21, each received 500 marks (approximately $5.60 USD in 1921 dollars) as their award.

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.

A February 2019 article by Patrik Stabler published online at Süddeutsche Zeitung (Southgerman Newspaper) offers insight into a book authored by Werner Reindl entitled, "Unterhaching Erinnerungen an dis Siedler" (Unterhaching Memories of the Settlers).  According to Reindl, Schlag is considered one of the more famous indviduals to hail from Unterhaching; although his prominence is largely isolated to the United States.  Reindl reports that Schlag, as a wounded veteran, was granted a row house on Pittinger Platz in Unterhaching, a suburb of Munich.  Felix, Anna, Felicy, and Leo would move in to the home in 1921.  Anna ran a milk business out of the house and this was the family's primary source of income at this time. 

Felix would return again to the Glass Palace exhibition in 1921, this time as entry number 1547 featuring another sculpture entitled, "Bewegte weibliche Figur." or "Moving female figure."  No photograph was included in the 1921 catalog.  This would seemingly be the last time Schlag would participate in the Glass Palace exhibition as his name was not found in any future catalogs.

Felix SchlagThe October 8, 1921 issue of Deutsche Bauzeitung (German Building Magazine) contains a section entitled, "Wettbewerbe" or "Competitions."  In this text is a write up explaining that, "in a competition to obtain designs for a warrior monument of the municipality Schwaben in Bavaria received: the 1st prize sculptor Otto Straub; the 2nd prize sculptor F. Panzer; the 3rd prize sculptors Felix Schlag and Christian Heinrich; the 4th prize architect Dr. H. Lömpel with sculptor Ludwig Müller - Hipper, all in Munich."

The two other competitions that Schlag reportedly won, 1st prize for the Agricultural diploma in Munich and 2nd prize for Vine Etiquette in Saarbrucken, Germany, remain unconfirmed at this time.

Note: If anyone can explain what "Vine Etiquette" is in relation to art or sculpture, please contact us. Futher, if you know of details regarding the "Agricultural diploma" we would of course be interested.

In 1922, Felix won second prize for a War monument in Amberg, Germany. The January 1922 issue of Der Baumeister lists the results of different travel competitions.  In a section which translates to "On the Mountain" the contest winners are described.  "In the competition organized by the Bavarian society for the homeland on the initiative of the city of Amberg, the jury made the following decision: The design "Nr. 31 322" by Hans and Benno Miller-Munich. Two equal first prizes of 2,250 m each were awarded to the work "Outline" of San soni, Munich and "Mourning" by Karl May, Munich. Furthermore, the designs were honored by five equal second prizes of 1500 m (approximately $2.34 USD in 1922 dollars) each: "Musivisch" by the United South German workshops for mosaics and stained glass, Munich, "Vereinigung" by Karl Röhrig, "Ehrenhof" by Otto Straub, "Fürs Vaterland" ("For the fatherland") by Felix Schlag, and "1914 - 1918" by Christian Heinrich, all in Munich. 

Felix SchlagIn December 2013, an email was sent to the Stadt Museum in Amberg, Germany <https://stadtmuseum.amberg.de/index.php?id=367> seeking information about any monuments attributed to Felix Schlag. To date, no response has been received from the museum.

Felix
            Schlag

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            Schlag

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            Schlag

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            Schlag

Source(s):
  1. Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.
  2. 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.]
  3. "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.
  4. 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.
  5. “New Deal/W.P.A. Artist Biographies.” WPAMurals.com. Web. January 2014. <http://www.wpamurals.com/wpabios.htm>.
  6. 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.
  7. Wikipedia contributors. "Felix Schlag." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Dec. 2013. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
  8. 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>.
  9. 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>.
  10. German War Graves Commission Online Database (http://www.volksbund.de/graebersuche.html)
  11. http://www.usacoinbook.com/encyclopedia/coin-designers/felix-schlag
  12. https://www.digitale-sammlungen.de/index.html?c=kurzauswahl&adr=www.bayerische-landesbibliothek-online.de/glaspalast/
  13. https://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/landkreismuenchen/unterhachinger-macht-in-den-usa-sein-glueck-fuer-ein-fuenferl-ruhm-1.4311638

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. The January/February 1923 issue of Der Baumeister contains a section entitled "Entschiedene Preisausschreiben" or Final Competitions.  The results are divided up by city and there is a portion referencing Bad Kissingen.  The translated text of the piece reads: 

Felix SchlagBAD KISSINGEN In the competition for designs for a war memorial, the 1st prize receives 30000 Mk. Design "Genien", author of the sculptor H. Salomon-München; 2nd prize 25000 Mk. Design "Ley", author Bildh. H. Salomon-Munich; three 3rd prizes of 15000 marks each received the designs "Fountain", maker sculptor Koch-Fürth, "In Memory", author Bildh. Felix Schlag-München, "Idea sketch", author Arch. Hans Limbrunner and Ad. Hoehn-Munich.

After concluding his time with Professor Caspar in 1924, Schlag 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 continued to describe 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):
  1. Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.
  2. 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.]
  3. "Felix Schlag Captures Audience During Forum." Coin World. Page 54. September 2, 1964.
  4. Schlag, Felix. “The Story of the Jefferson Nickel.” The Numismatist. Vol. 78, Issue 2, pp. 11-14. January 1965.
  5. Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).
  6. "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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Felix's mother, Therese, died October 12, 1926 in Frankfurt, Germany.  She was approximately 68 years old.

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):
  1. Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.
  2. 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.]
  3. "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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 SchlagThe 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 article which reports 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. 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.

Hilda's birth certificate 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. The February 2019 article by Patrik Stabler quotes Werner Reindl as stating that Felix and Anna left Felicy and Leo in Germany with their grandmother and were planning to return to retrieve them after settling in the United States.  Reindl reports that Anna returned to Germany just 3 months after leaving; which would have been May 1929.  This does not seem to be accurate as Anna was in Connecticut in September 1929 giving birth to Hilde.  Felix's grandson, Rolf, is quoted in a January 2009 article, "Lincoln-Bibel" und "Jefferson-Nickel", as stating that, "A year later Anna returned to the children in Munich."  This is seemingly a more accurate account and is consistent with the information Felix reported in the 1930 Census. 

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.
Felix Schlag

Felix Schlag

Felix Schlag
Source(s):
  1. 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.]
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. “Six Liners in Today; One off on Cruise.” New York Times February 11, 1929: Page 21.
  5. Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).
  6. 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>.
  7. 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>.
  8. 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.
  9. http://gis.meridenct.gov/meriden/PropertySearch.aspx

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.  This data seems to support Felix's grandson, Rolf's, January 2009 account ("Lincoln-Bibel" und "Jefferson-Nickel") that Anna left the United States, with Hilda, to return to Germany about a year after her arrival in February 1929.  Schlag's census record is dated April 1930, suggesting Anna had left prior to then.  Anna and Hilda's departure may explain why Felix’s address changed from Yale Street, seemingly a much larger house suitable for a family, to Howe Street.

Werner Reindl's account from February 2019 indicates that the plan was for Anna to retrieve the children and return to the U.S.  Reportedly Felix stopped responding to Anna's letters and she would never make the journey back to the states.  Hilda would eventually come back to the U.S. in 1946.

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 1931. 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.

Reviewing the 1930 and 1940 Census’ along with Schlag’s petition for naturalization paperwork, it can be determined that at some point between April 1930 and September 1930 Felix moved to Cook County, Illinois. On May 25, 1931 Felix Schlag and Albert Fuggiti, both of Chicago, ILL, submitted a patent application for a "Display Form."  In particular, it was a human hand shaped form utilized to display gloves.  Patent 1,981,527 was eventually granted on November 20, 1934. 

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.” This is the same title used for the 1923 model of a War Monument in Bad Kissingen (January/February 1923 issue of Der Baumeister) that Schlag won 3rd prize for.  In this competition, 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.

The April 22, 1938 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, now the Chicago Tribune, of course announced Felix as the winner of the nickel contest, but more importantly it informed that Schlag had been using the "professional name" of "Lix Slag."  In addition to filing patent requests, Schlag was also actively filing copyright applications.  He submitted at least six as "Lix Slag" from 1932 through 1934.

The earliest of the copyright forms was filed on March 7, 1932 and had Lix Slag living at 2814 Abott Ct, Chicago.  Register number 77 on the image in the margin describes a sculptured bust of George Washington in relief on a plaque.  A second submission went in on March 25, 1932 (Register no. 32) for a, "nude female figure standing on a small raised base from which rises a large flower.  The girls hands are raised to her head."  A third Lix filing from March 27, 1933 (Register no. 22) describes, "Head No. 1, three quarter view face of young man, curly hair, energetic chin." Apparently, Felix had now moved to 1549 Hood Ave., Chicago.  A fourth filing was submitted August 12, 1933 (Register no. 23), again from Hood Ave., was for a bust of President Franklin D. Roosevelt; "expression: energetic, powerful, confident.  modernistic style."  Schlag, as Slag, would submit another copyright application for a sculpture of Roosevelt on October 19, 1933 (Register no. 43).  He continued to list the Hood Ave. address on the form.  On June 16, 1934 (Register no. 57) he would be associated with his final copyright request as Lix Slag.  This time for a statue of Billy Caldwell, described as, "statue of an Indian standing on a base, left hand raised.  The Universal Statuary Company of 1526 Halstead Street, Chicago, ILL. was listed as the applicant and Slag (Schlag) the artist.

Felix SchlagSchlag's August 1934 Declaration of Intention listed an address of 1725 W. Wilson Avenue, Chicago, Ill. So he moved sometime between October 1933 and August 1934.  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.

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.

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.
Felix Schlag

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              Schlag

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Felix Schlag

Felix Schlag

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Felix
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Felix
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Felix
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Felix
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Felix
              Schlag
Source(s):
  1. Schlag biography submitted to Section of Fine Arts, June 1939.
  2. 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/>.
  3. 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/>.
  4. 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/>.
  5. 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
  6. Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).
  7. Miscellanea - Felix Schlag. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Pamphlet File (#19739). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago (June 1938).
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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>.
  12. 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>.
  13. 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>.
  14. TBD Email from Wascher about Anna
  15. TBD Ships manifest 1946 Hilda’s return
  16. TBD Detroit News article about GM work
  17. TBD US Mint information about GM work
  18. TBD Argus Press 1976-07-02 Argus-Press

1937 - 1939

The second half of the 1930’s proved to be extremely busy for Felix.  It would see him marry for a second time, become a widower, become a citizen, achieve National fame upon winning the design competition for the Jefferson nickel, and complete nearly ½ dozen sculptures and murals.

In Evanston, Illinois, on May 16, 1937, 46 year old Felix Schlag married his second wife, 28 year old Natalja Strunk.  Felix and “Nellie” lived at 245 W. North Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, in an apartment building located a few blocks west of Lake Michigan. Born in Poland, blue eyed, blond haired Nellie stood just 5’-3” tall and was skilled as a dress maker.  Brown eyed, brown haired Felix was 5’-4” tall and employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as a Senior Artist/Sculptor servicing the Federal Art Project (FAP).  He was assigned to WPA/FAP Project #2-1 under the supervision of Raymond B. Carlson.  Felix earned $94 per month in this capacity; just over $3 per day.

In the summer of 1937 the Section of Painting and Sculpture released Bulletin #13 covering the activities from March-June 1937 and detailing new artistic contests.  In fact, “the most important National Competition for sculpture initiated by the Treasury Department, Procurement Division, Section of Painting and Sculpture…” was announced.  The pamphlet made known that two large stone sculptures were sought for the East Terrace of the Apex Building (Federal Trade Commission) located in Washington, D.C.  The winning designs would receive $22,800 each for a total contract of $45,600!  Considering it would take him 40 years to earn a comparable amount on his WPA wages, Felix participated and was one of the 245 artists who submitted models. 

As summer turned to fall in 1937, Schlag would be re-assigned to WPA/FAP Project #100-1, still under Supervisor Carlson.  Based on statements Schlag made about when he began work on the sculpture for the Bloom Township High School, it is highly probable that this was Project #100-1.  In the midst of this he was likely busy working in the nighttime hours on his designs for the Apex Building and he filed his Petition for Naturalization in the District Court of the United States of Chicago, Ill.  Unfortunately, the fall was also the noted timeframe when his bride of just a few months took ill.

In late January 1938, shortly after the January 15 deadline for the Apex Building model submissions, Bulletin #14 was published by the Section.  The leaflet provided additional details surrounding the judging of the Apex competition and announced the national contest for the design of the new five-cent coin.  Having completed the Apex models, Felix moved on to his next challenge and began sketching ideas for the new nickel; struggling to find a likeness of Thomas Jefferson that truly inspired him.

Felix Schlag
Felix Schlag's sculptural models for the Apex competition

On February 8, 1938 Schlag was granted his United States citizenship; nearly four years after having formally declaring his intention on August 16, 1934.  By March 2, 1938, Nellie’s health had declined so much as to force her admittance to the hospital.  Tragically, she would succumb to her illness just 12 days afterward; the official cause of death being listed as pulmonary tuberculosis.

Felix did not win the Federal Trade Commission (Apex) Building sculpture competition.  His models; however, impressed the selection panel and he was one of 26 honorable mention awardees to earn a future appointment.  Official documents from the Section of Painting and Sculpture dated March 23, 1938 evidence their request to change the planned decoration of the White Hall Post Office from a mural to a sculptural relief and employ Felix Schlag to complete the work.  The Director of Procurement approved this request on April 15, 1938; the same day Schlag submitted his designs for the Jefferson nickel!

Three days later, on April 18, Felix would receive a letter from Edward Rowan, Superintendant, Section of Painting and Sculpture inviting him to submit designs for the sculptural relief in White Hall with the specification that this was an appointment vice a competition and advising that the total compensation would be $700 to cover the “work, materials, casting, and installation.”  Before Schlag had a chance to contemplate the Post Office project he received a telegram from Rowan requesting a biography.  This was followed by a phone call a day later, on April 21, 1938, advising him that he had won the national competition for the new five-cent piece.

On April 30, 1938, Felix formally accepted the White Hall Post Office appointment in a letter to Edward Rowan.  Additionally, Schlag advised that he was planning a visit to White Hall during the first week of June to familiarize himself with the area and to observe the space where the relief would be installed.  The month of May  was spent finalizing his submission to the sculptural contest for the 1939 New York World’s Fair and contemplating the nine changes Schlag was requested to make to his Jefferson nickel design.  According to an Associated Press report, the Mint received Schlag’s revised sketches on June 9.  A letter from Felix to Director Ross confirms that he completed the revisions and mailed them a day prior; likely just before travelling to White Hall. 

Upon returning from White Hall, Felix continued his employment with the Chicago FAP, working on projects (possibly the sculptural groups for the Champaign Jr. High School and the Bloom Township High School) during the daytime.  At night his attention was devoted to modeling his revised nickel design and developing concepts for the White Hall commission. 

Beginning on July 4, 1938 Schlag would spend his days supporting WPA/FAP Project #200-1 (likely the Bloom Township High School project) under the supervision of F.M. Sherlaw and Gerard Lambert and his evenings would remain reserved for his other works; including continued refinements of the five-cent piece.  The final nickel designs were submitted on July 11, 1938 and ultimately approved by the Commission of Fine Arts on July 18th and by the Treasury on July 21st. 

Felix
            SchlagFrom July 28, 1938 – October 9, 1938 an exhibit entitled, "Art for the Public by Chicago Artists" was held.  The event was sponsored by The Federal Art Project Works Progress Administration in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago.  A work of Schlag's entitled, "The Runner" was featured.  The 16" tall mahogany statue was designed by Schlag, and potentially carved by Robert Tuttle (http://digital-libraries.saic.edu/cdm/ref/collection/mqc/id/1291).  The Lawson School, Chicago, IL.  reportedly sponsored piece. 

With the nickel revisions behind him, Schlag was now able to focus more attention on his plans for the White Hall Post Office.  On September 23, 1938, Felix offered to Edward Rowan, Superintendent of the Section of Painting and Sculpture, three preliminary sketches for consideration.  The subject matter of the first two was more generically focused on the history of the Post and consistent with themes offered by the Treasury as early as its first Bulletin in March 1935.  The third was focused on the local interest and history of the place.  Following are Schlag’s descriptions of the three sketches:

No. 1 - Three heads forming the center part of the relief, personifications of old and modern types of mail transportation, supported left and right with corresponding smaller reliefs.

No. 2 - Showing in the center the old fast post rider, left - modern fast train and airmail, right -transatlantic mail.

No. 3 - Visiting the location, and after conversation with the postmaster and leading citizens, showed there is a preferred interest to have an illustration of their main industry, pottery. Following their suggestion resulted in sketch #3, the process of making pottery in olden times.

Within a few days, Superintendent Rowan wrote to Felix advising him that sketch No. 3 was the preferred topic.  On October 19, 1938, Schlag would again put forward three sketches, focused on the “ceramic” theme requested by Rowan.  On October 22, Rowan would write to Felix congratulating him, “on the charm of this latest work” and informing him that the Section preferred the “one which shows the little burro facing the potter.”

Felix Schlag
The Potter and his Burro, White Hall, Illinois Post Office

During this same time frame, Schlag was working on at least two other major sculptural projects for the WPA/FAP, one for the Champaign Illinois Junior High School and the other for the Bloom Township (Chicago Heights, Illinois) High School.  Additionally, from February 9 to March 12, 1939, he participated in the 43rd Annual exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity, held by the Art Institute of Chicago, displaying two sculptures; entry numbers 249 and 250, "Man" and "Woman" respectively.

April 1939 would see Felix complete the White Hall relief and prepare for the delivery and installation of the piece in early May.  A letter dated May 19, 1939 from Felix to Inslee Hopper confirms that he began installation in White Hall on May 12 and completed mounting the relief the following day. 

Upon completing the installation in White Hall, Felix travelled to northern Michigan, in all probability the Elk Rapids area, where his future third wife, Ethel Levin was a school teacher.  Returning to Chicago by the first week of June, Schlag wrote to Edward Rowan indicating he had been away for two weeks due to illness. 

Felix SchlagOn June 1, 1939, the “Small Athletic Group” sculpture was delivered to the Champaign, IL Junior High School.  The piece, which was designed to show the necessity for both formal and physical education, included two girls: one holding a tennis racquet, and the other reading from a book. The sculptural group, weighing an estimated ton, was installed inside the school beginning on Tuesday, June 6, 1939 and ending on Thursday, June 8, 1939.  There was an official unveiling shortly thereafter; an event that was captured on page 24 of the Sunday June 11, 1939 edition of the Champaign News-Gazette.  It is unknown if Schlag was present during the installation and viewing ceremony. 

Champaign Junior High School was originally located at 610 West University Avenue.  In 1956 it moved to 306 W Green Street and became Edison Junior High School, which is now called Edison Middle School.  The old 610 West University site became Champaign High School, now known as Central High School.  The facility on University Avenue has undergone several major renovations throughout the years; one in 1955 and another in 1998.  Unfortunately, the athletic group statue is no longer at the building and there is no documented record of what happened to the piece.  It is suspected that during one of the renovations, it was torn down, moved, or taken by a private collector.  In the place where the sculpture was originally placed stands a door to the athletic director’s office.

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 in greater detail.

Felix Schlag

Felix Schlag

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

Felix Schlag

A look at Jeffersonian rarities, including 1938 first bags given by Henry Morgenthau as mementos, 1938 specimen strikes representing the first three Jefferson nickels to be produced, and Schlag's framed certificates was originally published under the title, Cingular Certificates, Souvenir Cards & Proof Nickels, in the January 2018 issue of The Numismatist.

Felix Schlag

Felix Schlag
Source(s):
  1. United States Treasury.  Procurement Division.  Public Buildings Branch. Bulletin, Treasury Department Art Projects. No. 13, March to June - 1937. Washington, D.C.
  2. 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>.
  3. 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.
  4. ”As Work Began on New Post Office Building.”  White Hall Register-Republican [White Hall, Ill].  July 16, 1937:  p. 1.
  5. 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>
  6. Memorandum to the Director of Procurement (Through the Supervising Architect). “Change of proposed decoration of the Post Office at White Hall, Illinois from mural painting to sculpture.” Letter. March 23, 1938.  National Archives Record Group 121: Records of the Public Buildings Service, 1801 - 2000.  Series: Case Files Concerning Embellishments of Federal Buildings, 1934 - 1943. File Unit: Illinois: White Hall - Post Office, Felix Schlag (National Archives Identifier: 8000149.  <http://research.archives.gov/description/8000149>.
  7. United States Treasury.  Procurement Division.  Public Buildings Branch. Bulletin Announcing Five Painting, One Sculpture, and One U.S. Coin Competition. Treasury Department Art Projects. No. 14, July, 1937 to January, 1938. Washington, D.C.
  8. 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.
    Oath of Allegiance for Felix Schlag, Line No. 19, List No. 2942 #2, Cert no. 4338624 (February 8 1938), U.S. Department of Labor Immigration and Naturalization Service, USA. National Archives and Records Administration at Chicago, <www.archives.gov/chicago>.
  9. Memorandum to the Director of Procurement (Through the Supervising Architect). “Change of proposed decoration of the Post Office at White Hall, Illinois from mural painting to sculpture.” Letter. March 23, 1938.  National Archives Record Group 121: Records of the Public Buildings Service, 1801 - 2000.  Series: Case Files Concerning Embellishments of Federal Buildings, 1934 - 1943. File Unit: Illinois: White Hall - Post Office, Felix Schlag (National Archives Identifier: 8000149.  <http://research.archives.gov/description/8000149>.
  10. Blackburn, Gordon.  ”White Hall Post Office Begins Second 50 Years Of Service.”  Greene Praire Press [Carrolton, Ill].  March 23, 1989:  p. 10.
  11. United States Treasury.  Procurement Division.  Public Buildings Branch. Bulletin Announcing Fifteen Competitions. Treasury Department Art Projects. No. 17, September, 1938. Washington, D.C.
  12. “Champaign High School 1867-1967.”  Champaign Central High School.  Web August 2014. <http://internal.champaignschools.org/central/new/about/history.php>.
    McCoy Directory Company. Champaign Urbana City Directory 1935 entry for Champaign Junior High School.  Champaign-Urbana, Illinois: The Flanigan-Pearson Co., 1935,  p.50.
    R.L. Polk & Co. Champaign Urbana City Directory 1940 entry for Champaign Junior High School.  Champaign, Illinois: The Flanigan-Pearson Co., 1940,  p.56.
    ”Historical Murals Shipped for Use by City School: Sculptured Group Also will be Placed in Junior High.”  The Daily Illini [Urbana-Champaign, Ill].  June 2, 1939:  p. 2.

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, earned $968 in 1939.

Felix
            SchlagOn June 8, 1940, the Chicago Heights Star published an article announcing the, "Plan to Erect new Statuary at Bloom High."  Schlag was mentioned in this piece as one of two WPA artists that created the statuary.  Three days later, the same paper ran a follow-up story entitled, "Sculptor See His Work in Final Setting" in which Schlag confirmed to have attended the installation.  The sculpture of the two girl students (located on the left side of the school entrance) was Schlag's contribution and he was quoted as saying that the project, "had occupied much of his time during the last three years." 

Walking backwards from June of 1940 leads us to the summer of 1937; where Schlag's WPA records confirm that in August 1937, he was assigned to WPA Project #100-1.  This project became #200-1 and Schlag's records indicate his service on this effort ended in August 1939.  While unconfirmed officially, it seems highly probable that these two WPA project numbers were assigned to the Bloom sculptures. 

Felix
            SchlagThe sculptures reportedly weighed 2.5 tons each and required "heavy trucks and derricks" to move them from the WPA studios to the school.  Reportedly, the project was the idea of the school's former principal, Roswell Puckett.  Students from the school served as models while the work was conceptualized in clay.  The final pieces were made of bedford stone.  The statuary group, along with other WPA murals that grace the interior were key points made in the 1982 petition to add Bloom Township High School to the National Register of Historic place.  Schlag was mentioned several times in this submission.

On November 22, 1940, a 49 year old Felix married his third wife, Ethel Levin, who was 34 years old at the time.  The ceremony took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Interestingly, on the marriage certificate, Felix declared that he had only previously been married once.

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 completed a relief of 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 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 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.

On April 27, 1942, in Antrim County, Bellaire Michigan, Felix registered for service with the United States military. He was 50 years old, self employed, married, and living Elk Rapids, Michigan. Had it been accepted into service, he possibly could have engaged in combat with his German relatives, including his son Leo.

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 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 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).
Felix Schlag

Felix
              Schlag

Felix
              Schlag

Felix
              Schlag

Felix
              Schlag

Felix Schlag

Felix Schlag










Source(s):
  1. 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 Schlag, Felex [Felix] household. National Archives, Washington, DC, online database, <http://www.archive.org/>.
  2. https://www.google.com/maps?q=245+West+North+Avenue,+Chicago,+Illinois
  3. 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.]
  4. TBD: AIC Flyer on Art Week
  5. German War Graves Commission (http://www.volksbund.de/graebersuche.html)
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. http://archive.org/details/catalogofcopyrig374libr

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. 5,249 of these coin-medals were minted as solid sterling silver proofs, and 3 were created as solid platinum proofs.  The coin was issued in February 1965.

Felix SchlagFelix SchlagFelix Schlag
Felix Schlag
Source(s):
  1. Numismatic Issues Of The Franklin Mint 1969 Edition (Covering The Years 1965-1969). Yeadon, PA: The Franklin Mint, Inc., 1969, pp. 7.
  2. https://archive.org/details/ncsnewsletter1965ncs

1966

February

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.  Following is the full transcript of the album.

Felix SchlagFelix SchlagFelix Schlag


"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."

June

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.

Felix SchlagFelix SchlagFelix SchlagFelix SchlagFelix Schlag

Felix
              Schlag

<>

Text from the album jacket

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 timeuntil 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 toldby the actual designer in his own word offering an unparalleled contribution to
Numismatic archives.

<>


The Story of Jefferson Nickel


































Felix Schlag

Source(s):
  1. Numismatic Issues Of The Franklin Mint 1969 Edition (Covering The Years 1965-1969). Yeadon, PA: The Franklin Mint, Inc., 1969, pp. 21.
  2. “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.
  3. “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.

1967 (March)

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.

Note: If anyone has copies of the International Fraternal Commemorative Society (IFCS) newsletters pertaining to this coin, please share.
Felix Schlag
Source(s):
  1. Numismatic Issues Of The Franklin Mint 1969 Edition (Covering The Years 1965-1969). Yeadon, PA: The Franklin Mint, Inc., 1969, pp. 28.

1968 (February)

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.

Felix
            SchlagFelix
            SchlagFelix
            Schlag
Felix
              Schlag
Source(s):
  1. Numismatic Issues Of The Franklin Mint 1969 Edition (Covering The Years 1965-1969). Yeadon, PA: The Franklin Mint, Inc., 1969, pp. 16.
  2. “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.
  3. “Felix Schlag to Sculpt Chief John Big Tree Commemorative.” Newsletter of The National Commemorative Society. Volume 4, Number 10, Page 1.  September, 1967.

1969

In his article from 1980, Riviere reports that in 1969 Felix and Ethel returned to Frankfurt and Munich to retrace his roots.  Schlag found that his childhood home in Frankfurt no longer stood and that many of his artistic creations had been destroyed in World War II. 

Riviere's report is expanded upon by Felix's grandson, Rolf's, January 2009 account ("Lincoln-Bibel" und "Jefferson-Nickel") whereby he confirms that Schlag had stopped in Munich for a short time when Rolf (born in 1943) was 25 years old.  It was reportedly an emotional first and only meeting, concurring on the eve of Rolf's wedding.  Schlag insisted that it be "Munich-style" and thus it was held in a Haufbrauhaus or beer garden.  Reindl indicates that Schlag visited his old home on Pittinger Platz (February 2019, Patrik Stabler) during his 1969 trip, but "did not want to stay there long and did not eat or talk to anyone."

Source(s):
  1. 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.]
  2. https://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/landkreismuenchen/unterhachinger-macht-in-den-usa-sein-glueck-fuer-ein-fuenferl-ruhm-1.4311638
  3. https://www.hallo-muenchen.de/muenchen/hachinger-tal/lincoln-bibel-jefferson-nickel-2416944.html

1974

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

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

Source(s):
  1. ”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.
Felix
              Schlag

Content reproduced with the permission of the Associated Press. Further reproduction prohibited without permission of the Copyright owner.
Source(s):
  1. ”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 in Owosso Michigan. 
Source(s):
  1. ”United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1/QK49-YMJL : accessed 12 March 2019; from "Recent Newspaper Obituaries (1977 - Today)," database, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : 2014); citing Argus-Press, The, born-digital text.