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Tom Merry, Lightning Cartoonist, Sketching Kaiser Wilhelm II

Quick on the draw: Victorian cartoonist Tom Merry does a rapid sketch of Kaiser Wilhelm II

Trick film 1895 Silent


One of many actuality shorts filmed by Birt Acres in 1895, in its surviving fragmentary form this film provides a brief glimpse of Tom Merry (real name William Mecham), a popular caricaturist of the period whose work was featured extensively in the political magazine St Stephen's Review.

Merry's 'lightning sketch' act was a popular music hall draw - and he may have been the first British celebrity to be filmed. His path to the screen would soon be followed by other cartoonists. Kaiser Wilhelm II would be a frequent target of the cartoonists' pens after 1914 - when he was typically drawn much less kindly than he is here.