ARTIST: Tibor Gergely


Tibor gergely self portrait oil painting 1935
Tibor Gergely, self portait, 1935

Tibor Gergely is best known in the US as the glorious illustrator of Scuffy The Tugboat and The Five Firemen, and 70+ other well loved childrens books, most published by Golden Books. If that were his only work, it would have been enough. But that is far from the whole story.

Tibor gergely, Gossip. #FC40 from
Tibor Gergely, Gossip, from part of a large series of drawings he made in the 1920's and 30's in and around the village of Kortvelyes, Hungary.

Gergely, an Austrian Jew, had a full, rich, life as an artist and intellectual in Budapest and Vienna before he emigrated to the US in 1939. You can find his story and more images at

Tibor Gergely sketch of Paul Robeson '29 Vienna
Tibor Gergely portrait of Paul Robeson, signed by Paul Robeson

While Gergely was in exile in Vienna in the 1920's he worked for the newspaper Der Tag. This portrait of Paul Robeson is one of many he made for the paper.

Tibor gergely charcoal sketch of woman in hat
Tibor Gergely, charcoal sketch of woman in hat.

“It often happens that the essence of a whole lies concealed in some minor, insignificant detail. To find that detail and to express with it the whole - this is the joy of discovery, and the painterly gratification of the artist.”  Tibor Gergely

Fleeing the Nazi regime, Gergely and his wife, the painter Anna Lesznai, landed in New York City, and immediately fell in love with the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.

Tibor gergely %22the battery%22
Tibor Gergely, The Battery, guache, painted from atop the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

Shortly after he came to the US, Gergely met Georges Duplaix, who was head of production at Artists and Writers Guild and they collaborated on Topsy Turvy Circus. In 1942 Duplaix  became head of the Graphics Department at Simon and Shuster where he introduced Gergely to Lucille Ogle. They, along with Albert Leventhal, created Golden Books. Here Gergely found the home that would bring him millions of delighted readers. He created illustrations for over seventy Little Golden Books.

  Tibor gergely a year in the city 1948

Tibor Gergely, A Year In The City, Simon & Shuster, 1948


Tibor gergely fireman illustration with color samples
Tibor Gergely,  the right half of an original illustration for "Five Little Firemen" 1942 

tibor gergely the taxi that hurried

Tibor Gergely, The Taxi That Hurried

Tibor gergely five little firemen
Tibor Gergely, Five Little Firemen

tibor gergely, scuffy the tugboat

Tibor Gergely, Scuffy The Tugboat


Körtvélyesi kert | Artportal
Painting by Anna Lesznai found here


You might be interested in this book about Golden Books.

  Golden Legacy; How Golden books won children's hearts

Golden Legacy, How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, And Became an American Icon Along The Way.

Interveiw with author Leonard S. Marcus HERE

And here is a wonderful little documentary about Gergely by his step great granddaughter, Sabrina Jaszi, including a telephone interview with her very knowlegable father, Peter Jaszi. 


YouTube video about Gergely

And it give me great pleasure to be able to make some Small Equals Keepsake Boxes with Gergely images. I only use pages from books - mostly Goldens - that are too beat up to salvage. I sometimes have them in stock, sometimes not, depending on what old books I can find. Look for them at my ONLINE STORE


  Small equals keepsake box tibor gergely the chief is on his way

Small Equals Keepsake Box with Tibor Gergely illustration on lid.

If you are interested in seeing more Gergely images I have a lot of them collected at Pinterest.