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Ten Things You Didn't Know About Charles Addams

In this most recent installment of Antique Trader's "Ten Things You Didn't Know" feature, we dig up 10 fun facts about author/illustrator Charles Addams.

1 Charles Addams sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker in 1933. The magazine hired Charles ‘Chas’ Addams (American, Jan. 7, 1912-Sept. 29, 1988) in 1935 as a regular cartoonist. The first Addams Family cartoon appeared in the magazine in 1938. The television series debuted on Sept. 18, 1964.

Charles Addams, “Downhill Skier,” The New Yorker, January 13, 1940

Charles Addams, “Downhill Skier,” The New Yorker, January 13, 1940

2 In 1920, Charles Addams and his family took up residence on Elm Street in Westfield, New Jersey. The house is one on which the cartoon Addams Family house is based.

3 Addams’ friends nicknamed him “Chill.” At Westfield High, he drew cartoons for the school’s literary magazine, Weathervane.

4 Each year for Halloween, Westfield, New Jersey, transforms itself during AddamsFest to “all things Addams Family.” The town hosts family themed events, movie screenings, and art exhibits. Visit for more information about this “whimsy filled festival honoring the man, his legacy and the town where it all started.”

5 Addams contributed cartoons to The New Yorker for more than 50 years. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress. He published a total of 12 books.

6 The character Wednesday Addams is named after the “Monday’s Child” nursery rhyme verse “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.”

See #7. Photo courtesy I.M. Chait

See #7. Photo courtesy I.M. Chait

7 On July 29, 2018, an original “Addams Family” illustration by Charles Addams sold at auction for $18,000 at I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers. The ink, wash and gouache illustration on 19 3/4” x 15 1/2” paper shows Morticia Addams and Uncle Fester (in a portrait). It was captioned in pencil “This is Uncle Zander. Grandfather always called him the black sheep.” The illustration was originally estimated at $3,000-$5,000. Addams always signed his work “Chas Addams.”

8 Artist Mark Lueders was inspired by Addams’ Thing character when he designed the bronze gate sculpture in front of the Addams building at the University of Pennsylvania. After winning a design competition, Lueders (owner of took molds of U-Penn Fine Arts affiliates’ hands and positioned the life-size hand sculptures along the gate.

9 In December 2014, Nate D. Sanders sold a signed first printing of Addams’ “Homebodies,’’ a compilation of Charles Addams art, illustrations and cartoons (Simon & Schuster, 1954), for $750, including buyer’s premium. The original publisher’s price was $2.95.

See #9. Photo courtesy Nate D. Sanders

See #9. Photo courtesy Nate D. Sanders

10 Charles Addams died on Sept. 29, 1988, in New York City. Addams suffered a heart attack in his parked car outside of his midtown Manhattan apartment. After his passing, Mrs. Addams said, “He’s always been a car buff, so it was a nice way to go.”

Sources: The Daily Pennsylvanian,; Swann Galleries,;;;;; is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated websites. 

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