California St. cable car



You’ve probably seen his art, but what do you know about Ted Lewy?

I have many collecting passions, but the longest lived and most enjoyable has to be my many forms of Ted Lewy art. A German Jew and survivor of the Holocaust, he trained as an artist in China and came to San Francisco during the World War II. After enlisting in the Army, he served as a military artist.

When the war was over, Ted Lewy took a job at the Emporium Department store on Market Street, where (I imagine) he sat hunched over his drawing board designing the shopping bags, cartons and hat boxes that most of our grandmother’s kept on the top shelves of their perfumed closets.

And then something wonderful happened.

Ted Lewy fell in love – with my home town, San Francisco.

It’s obvious from every splash of color in his work. Proof of his love for The City is there on every cable car he ever painted, in the plumes of smoke floating out of men’s pipes, from the riotously inked Union Square flower stands my 5-year-old brain recalls. The depth of joy and love for Baghdad-by-the-Bay is in every stroke.

His artwork, one-step removed from cartoons is also linked to the precise execution of oriental watercolors, which is not surprising as Lewy studied art in Shanghai. It speaks of one man’s love for a city that welcomed newcomers with car horn honks, bike jingles and cable car clang-clang-clangs.

Many of his scenes are commercial. I know that because of the oodles of playing cards and bridge tally books, calendars, postcards and Christmas cards I’ve collected. Sometime in the 1950’s Ted Lewy opened his own cottage industry from his snug little home in the Sunset District, where he paid housewives on the block a penny a unit to glue art stamps on tiny matchbooks. With a little help, he churned out thousands of cheaply framed souvenirs, perfect for the out-of-towners.

Lewy’s ballpoint pen signature

I first came upon Ted Lewy prints at the Marin flea market in the early 1980’s. Good condition 8 by 10’s in their original bamboo frames went for $2 or $3 dollars.

I must have a large wall full by now.

Although detailed, it seems to me that every element has somehow been cut and glued to the canvas with an unsteady hand. Colors are lurid and snappy. Reds like blues. Men’s hats have contrasting bands and shoes spar with trousers. Whites love greens. Anything dark, like a cable car man’s navy blue wool uniform, is spiked with something bright like gold buttons.

A cable car is on its tracks, yes, but the tracks weren’t necessarily parallel. Long, low sedans are parked here and there along miles of welcoming curbs; but look closely – one wheel is usually a bit kaflewey. The light posts sway. Clouds wheel through blustery skies. Stairs zip over hills with ankle twisting abandon.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen’s pal, artist Dong Kingman produced art in a somewhat similar style. I can remember that he did drawings for airline menus and his images were printed on cotton bed sheets. Kingman got a lot of respect, but I suspect Ted Lewy cornered the market on grins – and the tourist’s bucks.

I’ve only one very large original Lewy painting. It must be 2 feet by 3 feet and I framed it in thick bamboo. Paperwork attached to the back explained that it was an entry for a WWII art poster competition. The winners would have hung in every school and post office, I guess. But “Be a Hospital Technician” was hardly “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” No matter.

I’d still like to know more about Ted Lewy. In the only photograph I’ve ever seen of him, he wears a Hawaiian shirt. He has dark curly hair. He’s built like a wrestler. He married, but had no children and died of a heart attack in 1967 in his little house with a view of the Pacific Ocean.

But not before he produced a prodigious amount of joyful work that mostly moldered and got tossed out when tastes changed. Except at my house.


131 Responses to “The Ted Lewy Museum”

  1. collectingjourneys Says:

    Thanks for your passinon for Ted Lewy. If your Lewy is a print, the value starts at about $20 to $25. Now, if it is nicely framed, with a blue and silver foil sticker on the back up to $40. If it has a ballpoint pen signature – a real signature – around $50. The good news is the flower stand is one of the most popular images. It’s just a lot of fun to look at. The bad news is I imagine Ted Lewy knew he could sell as many as he printed – – and he printed them like mad. Enjoy your Lewy!

  2. Hi there. I also love Ted Lewy’s work. I have two framed prints (small) and 3 of the prints in the little ceramic frames that he made and hand signed on the back. I am wondering what the value of those are. I found my first one at a yard sale, then bought the others on ebay. I also bought a lovely larger 8 x 11 print that is framed. It is inscribed, signed, and dated 1951. As someone who grew up for a time in S.F., then moved back for a bit as an adult, I love having these. Most people have never heard of him so I feel like I have secret treasures 🙂

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Prices vary depending on condition. I found much of my collection at flea markets and garage sales. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $25 or so for a large framed print. What you really want to look for are ballpoint pen signatures. Ballpoint was the very latest thing when Lewy was turning out most of his prints and that blue signature adds a lot to the price of the item. Keep an eye out for Coca-Cola drink coasters and matchbooks, bridge tally sets to expand your collection. There are very few collectors, which keep the prices low – but it can’t last. The stuff holds up. He actually had great talent. Check local estate sales for original oils. They come up. They are usually landscapes of Austria/Germany or Hewbrew-interest topics. Glad you found my tiny blog. Hope it was helpful.

    • Rachel Bergerman Says:

      Ted was my second cousin. He studied art in Germany prior to escaping the Nazi’s and landing in Shanghai. He loved children and I remember he would play with my sisters and I, as his wife, Edith played the piano in their sunset home in SF.
      I have several of his original paintings including his first cable car. I also have his original watercolors of Oakland’s Fairyland.

      • collectingjourneys Says:

        I would love to meet you; interview you; to better inform myself on Ted Lewy’s life.
        Would that be possible?

      • Rachel Says:

        I am not sure how helpful I could be but I will try to collect some photos and history over the next month or two. Then if you are still interested we can go from there.


      • collectingjourneys Says:

        Rachel – 2012 is the year you and I meet I hope!

  3. i like art posters specially if they depict something about nature and beauty :

  4. carla Says:

    I just picked up two framed matted prints for $4. total. I just love the colors and detail. Each print measures 5×4″. I plan on having them rematted with acid free mat paper. One is title “Telegraph Hill and San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge” and date 1962. The other one is titled “Nobhill, San Francisco, California”. Just love them.

  5. Bea Bergerman Says:

    Ted Lewy died in 1963.
    He studied Art in Hamburg, Germany.
    He also studied and taught in Pescadero, Ca.
    In China he was only less than 2 years, and
    worked there for an “Advertising Publicity Bureau, Ltd.”
    26 of his paintings were exibited in the Kennedy
    White House.

    • Jack Durnford Says:

      Sorry it’s been awhile, busy and had forgot I posted here. Will find the letter and send copy to where I don’t know…. I know my father had match books, coasters all kinds of things with Teds art…. Email me to remind me… Thx

  6. jack durnford Says:

    My father was the VP and General mamager of Pausons, a mens clothing store in San Franciso during the 50’s and 60’s. I do remember Ted vaguely as a child. He had shown his work inside Pausons in 1960. I have a letter dated Sept 7th 1960 thanking my father for allowing him to hang art on the walls of that store. He also had asked a favor of my father who he knew was traveling to New York, he had asked if my dad would call a Mr. mcDonald of Art-Lore inc and mention to him that he is now painting prolifically and professionally in fine art.

    This letter is typed on Ted Lewy-Arts stationary and is signed in a blue ballpoint pen, with a short ps attached.
    Just thought you would like to hear the story

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Jack – What are the odds that you would find my little screwball shrine to Ted Lewy? AND have an artifact!
      I grew up in SF and I’ve never heard of Pauson’s – but that could be because it was a men’s clothing store.
      Where was it? Downtown? Would you be willing to share a copy of the letter you have? Just a copy or a PDF. I’m probably one of the few people on the entire planet who would LOVE to see it. Thanks for leaving your message – I really appreciate it!

      • I would love to see it too! There aren’t many of us TL fans here, but also having lived in S.F. as a child, and then again as an adult for awhile, Ted has become one of my all time favorite artists. I love that he was able to follow his dream and finally get the recognition he needed to make a living at it. It’s sad that there isn’t more about his work and life available for folks like us.

  7. Rachel Says:

    There is a fresco of Venice as seen through the eyes of Ted in the Tosca Cafe on Columbus Ave still on the back wall dated 1948. It’s wonderful.

    • Oh wow! Was that Ted Lewy? I’ve seen that mural and had no idea!

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      I know! I always think of all the cool movie stars that have been near that mural and I think that’s my guy, little ol Ted Lewy up there.

      • Yeah, we need to hang on to that stuff. I have a feeling that one day it will increase in value. And if not, it’s still lovely work. I’m happy to have an inscribed one–he addressed it to someone that he clearly knew well. Nice.

  8. Jess Out West Says:

    I have been attempting to collect the set of Fairyland postcards that Lewy produced – it has taken me three years and I have 8! I am so glad to find a little information on Lewy out there and know that others are collecting and preserving.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      I LOVE the Fairyland series – and obtaining a full set will be a challenge! I see them on Ebay occassionally. There’s one seller, Walt’s, that has the most. I want to hear from you when you complete your set! I think Ted Lewy is an amazing person and I’m glad to learn of one more fan. Thanks for leaving your note. – Rayne

  9. Cathy Says:

    I just bought my first Lewy postcard. The cablecar on the hill with the GG bridge in it. I had never heard of him and now am hooked. This is the SF I grew up in and it just warms my heart to look at these. I live in Or. now and miss SF. Collecting these will be a great way to keep my heart in SF:-)
    I love the movement in them and the touch of quirkiness.
    I also love hearing his journey and to have art from a person following their dream is a wonderful thing.
    And of course next trip I’ll have to go into the Tosca Cafe!
    This is a great blog to find.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Cathy, I’m so glad you found my Ted Lewy Museum. We are a small cadre of fans but we love Lewys!
      Good luck on expanding your collection and keep us posted. – Rayne

  10. TC Says:

    Is it possible that Ted Lewy painted an oil mural on the wall of the Barringer Hotel in Charlotte, NC back in 1940? It’s a whimsical painting of a sheep-dog looking character with a whale tale, and three cherub-like children above (on top) of the dog. They appear to be in a cloud.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      You know, that doesn’t sound like any Ted Lewy I’ve ever seen – – but I’ve learned with him – – you just never know.
      He was sort of an itinerant painter and I guess if a client asked for something specific he would deliver. Any way you
      can send me an image? If I could see an image, I could be reasonably sure whether its his work or not.
      Thanks for stopping by at the Ted Lewy Museum!

  11. Marlene Poynter Says:

    I have what appears to be a watercolor portrait of my father and mother when my father was in the army in Louisiana during WWII done by Lewy. One side of the paper shows my mother and the other side my father. Lewy’s signature is on my father’s side. I am assuming that this would have been during the same time Lewy was in the army. We found it when Mom went into a nursing home with demetia so I am unable to know exactly when it was done. We know it was done during the time Dad was in Louisiana as it was between 2 pieces of cardboard addressed to Selman Field, Monroe, LA.

    I am unable to find anything on line showing portraits that Lewy has done. Any info you can give me?

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi Marlene! I am SO excited that you found my little shrine to Ted Lewy. I want to see your images! is there any way you can email them to me at I hope that you saw the large oil painting – the only original Lewy I have – of the WAC. The paperwork that came with that painting says that Mr. Lewy painted it for a contest for WWII posters. No doubt he painted Army friends and gave away his artwork. I’m SO HAPPY that you did some research on it and now you know that you have a very special original piece by Ted Lewy. What I might do if I were you is have canvas copies made of each image (Costco does this/they take a digital image and print it on canvas so it looks like a painting) for your home/your family and then archive the original in a museum box with acid free paper, etc. There’s no putting values on such a unique item. No doublt it’s priceless to you.

  12. Marlene Poynter Says:

    I will be happy to take pictures and email them to you. They are kind of a cross between portraits & caricatures. Kind of reminds me of something you might get from a street vendor or carnival/fair. I will get the pictures to you shortly. Thanks for the advice on how to handle and preserve them.

    • collectingjourneys Says:


      I have this fantasy of someday hosting a one night Ted Lewy Museum Show, so I never pass up an image. Do you live in California? or?

  13. I would also love to see these images. What a great thing to have!!! I’m excited for you Marlene!

  14. Bill Lambo Says:

    I have a Ted Lewy print of California Cabel showen the Bay bridge in the back ground and a building with the first two letter “MO”. It as the blue sticker on the back and a blue ball point signature to my father in law “To Earl from Ted Lewy San Francisci 4 21 1953. Do you have any approxmate value. Thank You

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Some collectors don’t like a personal note on the art, others do. Either way, I’d estimate the print, if in otherwise good condition (no yellowing, foxing, tearing, water marks, etc…) at around $50. If it’s in an original bamboo frame, $75. That MO, is for Moers, a sort of diner or automat that used to be at that location. If you’d like to send me an image at I could possibly give you better information. Thanks for checking in with the only online tribute site to Ted Lewy. – Rayne Wolfe

  15. I am now at 10 of 12 in the Fairyland series! It has only taken me a few years, but I am so excited to get the series complete. Looking for Willy the Wale and 3 Men in a Tub. Will let you know when the series is complete!

  16. […] collect Ted Lewy postcards from the 1950′s. Specifically, Ted Lewy’s series on Fairyland in Oakland, Ca. I love […]

  17. You’d BETTER! If I ever actually accomplish one of my artistic goals – of hosting a Ted Lewy show – I’m going to call in your collection on loan! I’ll keep an eye out for your missing postcards!
    – Rayne

  18. Alyce Miller Says:

    I just came across your website when doing an online search to find out who Ted Lewy was. I inherited a framed picture from my father that had a picture of my grandmother in it. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the photo was sitting on top of a canvas that had the following written on the back. “Jan 23, 1963 San Francisco & Cable Car, Calif, U.S.A Artist: Ted Lewy 2200 39th Ave San Francisco, Calif” I took it out of the frame to find out that it was a canvas which I am guessing is an oil painting (I am not an artist) of San Francisco with a cable car and the bay bridge in the background. My family is originally from San Francisco and it is a really cool painting. Can you tell me anything about this or would you have a guess of what it is worth.

  19. Eddie Louis Says:

    I have a Ted Lewy original, signed, beautifully colored sketch of the Hotel Statler in Los Angeles from 1953. There is a hand written description of this painting, in blue ink, as follows: Hotel Statler on fabulous Wilshire Boulevard , Los Angeles. It is on the bottom front of the sketch. Also Some writing on the Matboard written in pencil that says: Sketch of my original (underlined) “Hotel Statler Los Angeles, Calif.” There is a personalized written note, also in pencil, lower right hand corner on the mat, To my friend Max Dean, from the San Franciscan artist Ted Lewy November 24,1953.
    The signature in the lower right hand corner of this work is colored brown and signed Ted Lewy1953 and above the year, in blue ink ,is a the letter c inside a small circle and next to the circle the initials T.L.
    I can see the original sketching but it appears to be primarily a watercolor painting. Did he also do the water coloring?
    I would appreciate any information you can provide!
    Thanks, Eddie

  20. donna harmon Says:

    I have 4 Ted Lewy’s. They look like signed originals. Titles are:
    California Cable
    China Town
    Flowers Stand
    Fishnet Mending at Fisherman’s Wharf

    I wondered about the value

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Donna, what size are they? Are they framed in bamboo? Are they under glass?
      Ted Lewy had a sign “stamp.” They’re only signed if they’re originals or he added
      a second signature in ballpoint pen near the stamp signature. Give me more information
      and I’ll do my best to offer a value. Thanks for checking in at the only online source
      for information about Ted Lewy.

  21. Denise Says:

    I have been collecting Ted Lewy for years. I first found a few of his postcards at a postcard show in Little Rock, AR. Back then (maybe 12 or so years ago) there wasn’t much info on him. But coming from CA and having many memories of San Francisco visits, I instantly loved his work. I have since aquired an original of Ted’s (a farm like scene) and several prints as well as the ceramic dish hangings. Reading your comments and those of others here, I learned that he was married and his wife’s name was Edith. I had heard that Ted was gay from a postcard dealer. I am not sure if he had any children. I’m glad to know there are others out there who appreciate the beautiful colors, style, and the passion Ted had for San Francisco as well as nature.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Well, I guess we’ll never know if he was homosexual or not, but he was married to a woman. I also know they had no children. So happy to find
      one more person who enjoys Lewy’s work. I’d love to see a photo of your original piece. You could e-mail it to me at I’d be curious what year it was done, too. Many thanks for checking in! – Rayne

  22. Normally I don’t read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice article.

  23. hosting Says:

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  24. The fisherman is my grandfather Salvatore Peter Balistreri

    I have several of the postcards plus the original sketch he made that was then used for the fisherman postcard

  25. DON AMARAL Says:

    I have a Ted Lewy ceramic dish with a print of the cable car and Golden Gate behind… The ceramic plate is signed in the clay on the back …It was part of my parents estate and remember seeing it as a young boy and was blown away when I actually took a ride on the cable car and realized that Mr.Lewy had absolutely captured the charm and beauty of the City Its fun to see him honored! Don Amaral

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Is your plate green? Most of them have a green glaze. So often they were sold in pairs, so you might be able to find its mate one day if you frequent garage sales or estate sales. Don, I’m so glad you found this little tribute site to Ted Lewy. I never tire of his work. Indeed, I find his work very inspiring.

  26. DON AMARAL Says:

    yes the interior is green with a white border glazed…Like a shadow box…Aprox 4inches by five… holes with loop for hanging…I do not recall another but your mention of it does spark the possibility… Don Amaral

  27. Jeff Says:

    Hello, I have 2 framed,what look like prints of one called ” Powell St turntable ” and the other is Hyde St with the Golden Gate in the back ground. Both are 8×10’s in black frames and sealed up with brown paper on the back. My Mother has had these for years,ever since I can remember back in the early to mid 70’s these have been hanging on the wall. Are these worth anything at all or are they going to be more sentimental than anything?

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi Jeff!
      Sounds like you have a nice pair of Lewys. Are they signed? Lewy “signed” most of his prints by running them with signatures, so it’s more of a print signature. But sometimes he also took a ballpoint pen (new technology THEN!) and he signed a few in blue ink. If they are prints they might go retail for $75 for the pair. Signed they might be worth $125 or so. You have to like or love them to keep them. They don’t speak to everyone. Keep or put them out at your next estate/garage sale. That’s my best guess. But as my husband says: Yeah, but where is that person willing to pay that when you want to sell them? You could always donate them to a charity and get a tax receipt for the proper value and hope that someone who loves them finds them at a good price. Thanks for checking in with The Ted Lewy Museum.

      • Jeff Says:

        Hi again, Thanks for the response. Yeah for $75 for the pair I will surely keep them. They both have his signatures on them but look like print form, does not look like a ball point pen style signature. So why are they sealed from the back like that?? I would have to cut the paper off to remove the prints. Is there something to that? or were they all like that back in the day??

  28. collectingjourneys Says:

    It simply means that a frame shop framed them. That’s just normal. It can help prevent foxing and other damage. Original frames are usually bamboo.

    • Jeff Gonzales Says:

      Hi again, So I’m have someone interested in these 2 different prints that I have. How old would you say these are? I saw 2 of the same prints that were signed by Ted and dated back in 1957. Now not knowing exactly when my mother purchased these, Am I to assume that they are from the 50’s?? they have been on the family walls as far back as I can remember, late 60’s early 70’s. Thanks.

      • collectingjourneys Says:

        Hi Jeff! Mr. Lewy died in 1967 and these images were his stock in trade all through the 1950’s. So they were most likely purchased post WWII, so 1950 to 1960 is a fair guess. I hope this is helpful!

  29. Says:

    The Ted Lewy Museum collectingjourneys, seemed to be a awesome post title to give this valuable post.

    Where can I browse even more with regards to this?

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      That’s a great question! Unfortunately, I seem to be the lone soul enthralled with Ted Lewy. I keep threatening to put up a show with all my personal
      collection. I need to do that. While many enjoy Ted Lewy and have one or two pieces, I’ve never run into anyone whose passion matched mine. I’d love to.

  30. Lee Carroll Says:

    I have a men’s hat that was originally from Pauson’s – I would like some further info on it so I can get an idea of the value of it – I hope you can help – Lee Carroll, Sun City AZ – originally from the Bay Area – my Dad remembers Pauson’s from years ago!

  31. Joan Yeargin Says:

    I have 4 Ted Lewy prints of the City and the cable cars. I am originally from Marin County but now live in Tennessee so the take me home everytime I look at them. I love them……….Joan Y.

  32. Nell Patterson Says:

    Hi, I have 2 small framed prints, one of the San Francisco- OaklandBay- Bridge, the other of the Golden Gate Bridge. Frames are light-colored wood with orange corded trim. Backing
    dated 1953 by The Rike-Kumler Co. Prints dated 1948. Love these prints, any value? Could they be framed postcards? Thank you.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      My goodness, it’s hard to say. If they are prints perhaps $10 – 20 a piece? They could certainly be postcards. Go on Ebay to compare prices for Ted Lewy postcards, which are collected. I hope this is helpful and apologize for the long delay in responding. This message somehow didn’t not appear to me until just now. Best, Rayne

  33. Todd Says:

    I’ve got two ceramic / bisque ‘frames’ he made for 2 of his prints, and they are signed (in ceramic when they were cast!).

  34. Jeannine Says:

    I’ve been reading all of your prints, I have “Country Road”. It is a print of a watercolor, framed, with the blue and silver sticker on the back, as well as 2/88, it’s really quite sweet. Anyone familiar with this particular print?…Jeannine

  35. Orlandus Waters Says:

    I have a 1952 Ted Lewy Telegraph Hill Near Bay Bridge print and wanted to know its price range. It’s is framed and in great condition.

  36. Stine Says:

    I purchased a Ted Lewy painting and of Chinatown, San Francisco, California; the painting shows a Trolly Car with people on it and man running to toward the Trolly car and a colorful building with a street sign that says Grant Avenue & California. It is signed by Ted Lewy. What can you tell me about this painting. I was getting ready to throw it away and until I saw it had a Holmes Art Gallery -New Orleans on the back of it. I was curious about the painting so I decided to to some research and found this Blog about Ted Lewy. Help

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Is the signature an imprint or a ball-point-pen signature? Generally, these are about $30 – 50, depending on the framing. The original framing is rustic bamboo. If it’s all original and signed, the value would be at the higher end. I hope this is helpful. I’d love to see a photo. You can email me at Best, Rayne Wolfe.

  37. Stine Says:

    Will send you a photo of the painting. The signature appear to signed with a ball point pen.

  38. Stine Says:

    Sent you a photo and picture of signature on the art. My email address is :

  39. John Says:

    Where is the museum

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi John! Great Question. The Ted Lewy Museum is a virtual museum. As a life-long collector of Ted Lewy art and ephemera I created it in order to give
      others a starting point on their personal collections. I hope this is helpful. Best, Rayne Wolfe

  40. John Says:

    Do you know if Ted Lewy ever did a painting at the corner of the cable car turn-around where the Buena Vista restaurant is

  41. collectingjourneys Says:

    If he did I’ve never seen it. I’d love to see it if it exists. I’ll look and you do too and lets report back…

  42. collectingjourneys Says:

    There is a common work of the Hyde Street car, but it is up on the hill, around where you can see Lombard (the crookedest street). So, the BV is down at the bottom of the hill. Not sure if it is clear to the viewer.

  43. Madeleine Says:

    I have two originals by Mr. Lewy. One is a Pastel of a woman walking a poodle and the other a large watercolor of a small gold mining town in the Sierra Foothills (Amador County). The pastel will be going up for sale soon. The other, I simply love too much.

  44. Hannah Says:

    A family friend recently sent my family the link to your website saying that he was shocked. I clicked the link, and I too was shocked, shocked that there was a person who had such a huge passion towards collecting Ted Lewys art (in this day and age) and a kind passion towards keeping his legacy preserved. My family and our family friend thanks you, and here is why:

    After Mrs. Edith Lewy passed away the family sold the house to…my family. (Unfortunately we are not related to the Lewys or have any connection to their extended family.)

    I grew up playing on the very same piano Edith used to play on (as stated in Ted Lewy’s biography). Yes, the living room and dining room is still “one room” with no divisions, again, as stated in the biography. I always thought the arrangement was odd but I am so glad we didn’t put walls in it.

    Along with the house my parents also bought a colorful cable car watercolor painting and our family friend bought a huge oil painting of I think the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Your website literally changed my life. I bought and read Ted Lewys Biography (on Amazon) just last night, and it felt surreal to read about the lives of the people that previously occupied the house I grew up in (and they remember it exactly the way I remember it).

    My family and I always knew Ted Lewy was an artist who had a passion to paint San Francisco and other parts of California. But we didn’t know how impactful of an artist he was until now (think “Visit U.S.A. Campaign”).

    I can go on and on, but I just wanted to contribute some continuity (story?) to your collecting journey.

    Please feel free to e-mail me. Like you, I am a native San Franciscan.

  45. Debbie Tell Says:

    Have two paintings signed Lewy, no first name. Did Ted Lewy ever sign just his last name or do I have a different artist’s work. Please respond to Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      99 percent of the time I’ve seen Ted Lewy. But, you never know. If it’s an original, it’s possible. Can you send me a photo to If I can see the piece I’m sure I can help you decide if it’s a Ted Lewy. Best, Rayne Wolfe

  46. Debra Says:

    These were stored in a 45 yrs house cleaning out drawers. I have 1 8×10 cable car sign and blue and silver label picture. Not in bamboo frame. It was done in an other wood frame. The picture is excellent and frame not. Also have 6 small prints, cable cars, fisher man and flower stand all wood frame and excellent condition prints. Can you give me some value? Thanks

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Oh, that’s a sweet little collection – and I know what you mean… Sadly, I find so many pristine Ted Lewy’s at estate sales.
      The small ones could be listed as a group and I’d ask for $80 to $90 for the group. I think they’d sell quickly on Ebay.

      The larger print is nice and those usually go for about $25, framed. And not to correct you, but the “signature” is a stamp and they
      all have that. What you look for on Lewy’s is his own signature on the matting. He was in love with the “space age” ball point pen,
      and he often signed in blue ink. Those are much more valuable.

      I hope this is helpful.

  47. Pearl Schudlich Says:

    Was Lewy body dementia named after Ted Lewy? Pearl S.

  48. Susan Cohn Says:

    Dear Rachel,

    You are officially wonderful!

    I need your guidance. I just bought a “Ted Lewy” picture on etsy. For alot of money. And upon receipt, I do not think it is a Ted Lewy. It is not signed and is “pen and inky” and kinda dark in tone. Not sprightly like all the rest of his images. I will copy the listing here and ask you to tell me: “Do you think it is a Ted Lewy?” Please let me know. I want it to be, but I think it is not.

    I am trying to copy it here but it will not copy. Can I send it to you in an email? That would be great! It is cable car going on hill and bridge in backbround. Described by seller as :

    “Ted Lewy San Francisco Street Car Framed Print Cloudy Day

    Fantastic image by Ted Lewy, a gloomy overcast day in San Franscisco and street life, cable cars.
    Measures 16. 75″ x 12 .5″ in brown wood/ black exterior frame, image is apprx 1″ x 8.5′.”

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      I think I know exactly the item you’re talking about! I wanted it to be a Lewy too, but I don’t think it is either. It’s tremendous, but But just to be sure please send an image to me at
      I’m Rayne (not Rachel) Wolfe.

  49. Suzi Ryder Says:

    Hi, what a nice site!
    Like many here I have a couple of Ted Lewy framed paintings. These are both small and one is the Hyde St. cable car, SF, CA., with his name in the left hand side. The other is Olvera St., Los Angeles, CA. That one has the Ted Lewy with the copy write c and T.L. underneath, on the right hand side. Both are in original frames, with the crumbling paper on the back (I’d love to clean the glass but hate to remove it and break the seals) with the blue and silver seals. Is there a way to do this without ruining the value? Also, the frames are wood, with a dark brown stain, and black trim next to the glass. My mom had these in a box of her things that were packed away. I love the colors, movement, etc! So glad to have found you.


    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi Suzi! So glad you found the site. Can you tell me what size these are? For now, I wouldn’t clean or break the seals or take out of the frames. Could you send me photos? My email – Put a pencil next to each, so I can “see” the size. Best, Rayne/Ted Lewy Museum.

  50. I have a greeting card from 1950 – “Fishnet Mending at Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco”. Interested?

  51. Yes I like it and can’t believe it has been in our family since 1950. Glad I was able to read more about the artist through this site.

  52. Marg Johnson Says:

    I found a Ted Lewy – 1962 San Francisco Calendar from my mother in law. There are not tears or rips. What would the approximate value be of this unique item?

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi Marg, Glad you found the Ted Lewy Virtual Museum. Calendars are not rare, but condition is everything. Without seeing the size and condition I think I can safely say you’d be looking at $10 to $15. But anything can happen on Ebay! I hope this is helpful. Best, Rayne/Ted Lewy Museum

  53. Susan Cohn Says:

    Hi Hi Marg! I would love to add your Mother in Law’s calendar to my Ted Lewy collection. Is that too forward to ask? I am in Oakland, California. Where are you! We can let Rayne set the price. She is our resident expert! All best,

  54. Dianne Says:

    I own a reproduction of a Ted Lewy painting copyright 1952. It is titled Telegraph Hill and San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge San Francisco California. It has the official reproduction blue foil sticker on the back.
    Do you know what this may be worth? It has two mattes in front of it and the frame is ribbed, so I don’t know if that means it is bamboo. It is behind glass.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Without actually seeing a photo, I’d venture $25 – $40, depending on the overall condition. The happy news is that Ted made them all himself, so it is a little piece of a wonderful artist. Best, Rayne

  55. Marnie Reynolds Says:

    I have three Ted Lewy signed watercolors in ceramic frames, approximately 4 1/2″ X 5 1/2″. Two have the blue and silver seal (Nob Hill, San Francisco and Chinatown, San Francisco) and one does not (Fishnet Mending at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco.) I inherited them from a dear elderly friend when she died. We live in Georgia, and I am not sure how she acquired them. Are these collectible? Thank you.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi Marnie – Yes, people collect them if they love the art. I think everyone who ever came to San Francisco in the early 1960’s went home with something Ted Lewy created in their luggage. They’re not terribly valuable, but a nice set might go for $30 to $40. Just FYI. Enjoy! Rayne

  56. Marnie Reynolds Says:

    Thank you!

  57. Ora Says:

    I have a framed print “Farmers Market, Los Angeles, California” signed Ted Lewy with a copyright mark above the signature. The picture is about 3 1.2 x 5 and the frame is light colored wood, 5×7 with a dark green matt. Picture is typical Farmers Market scene with food vendor booths and people sitting at round tables eating. Clothes look 40’s or 50’s style.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      I’d love to see that image. I don’t think I’ve seen what you are describing. Can you email me an image? Thanks in advance!

  58. Susan Cohn Says:

    Sounds wonderful!!! I have never seen this one either and would love to see it! Thank you.

  59. Scott Hammons Says:

    Hi, I’d recently come across several very nice Ted Lewy Coca Cola coasters. To be honest they were “just” amongst some vintage magazines that I was interested in. I also found a neat little story of how he’d landed the Coca-Cola account and how he used to pass these little foil coasters out ( each with a beautiful colorful San Francisco scene ) and of course…..his SF address on the back.
    …I find it interesting to find so little information on these coasters via the www. but nonetheless quickly became a Ted Lewy fan!
    Thank you for sharing. Scott

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hey Scott! You scored! I have a few of those little coasters. What IS the story? Do tell! Ted was so funny. He’d make anything (for a buck!) including calendars, hostess sets, cocktail napkins. All out of his garage, paying the neighbor ladies to glue on labels. I find TL amazingly fascinating. Such a STORY. If you’re from the SF Bay area, he’s everywhere – (he did several bar murals) – still. Very happy to provide such small frame of info for you. Happy collecting! Rayne

  60. Connie Says:

    Hi! I love your shrine to Ted Lewy. I’ve managed to collect a menu from Tarantino’s Restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf with a black ink print on the back page showing Tarantino’s and a couple of fishermen along the harbor and some boats. In the background is the Golden Gate Bridge for pictorial purposes. Behind Tarantino’s is Coit Tower, which we know does not sit behind Tarantino’s when looking at the front door. I’m sure Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower are added for San Francisco flavor. This menu pre-dates zip codes. Inside the menu it lists “Dinner, Friday June 20, 1947” – $2.50 per person. The front address is San Francisco 11, California. The phone # is PRospect 5600. A Martini is $.50, Broiled Fresh Salmon Steak is $.95. Wines from 3 prominent Napa Valley wineries, Louis Martini, Charles Krug, Christian Brother plus Simi Valley from Alexander Valley are offered for $1.90 a bottle. I assume that all the art in this tri-fold menu is done by Ted Lewy, although the print picture on the back is the only one signed. As a kid, I lived in Davis in the early 60’s and for special occasions my parents would drive us down to San Francisco and we’d dine at Tarantino’s. It was so exciting.

  61. Connie Says:

    P.S. Rayne, I also have a ceramic plaque from the Oakland Fairytale Town collection. This is Mary Had a Little Lamb. Do you know if those are just watercolor prints or were they original watercolor. I ask because the paper seems heavier. The plaque is marked with ‘c’ in circle with T.L. next to it and then next to that his signature. On the back, his signature and San Francisco California is engraved.
    Thank you!

  62. Connie Says:

    Hi Rayne,

    I’ve gotten on a Ted Lewy kick today as I go through my collection. According to, Ted Lewy was born 4 Sep 1912 and died 23 Apr 1963. His wife, Edith was born 13 Sep 1901 and died in 10 Apr 1987. He is buried in
    Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA
    Plot: Y, 4173. Edith is buried in the same cemetery looks like in the same plot.


  63. petebanchieri Says:

    Hi Rayne,
    I just found your site, having just discovered Ted Lewy.
    I’ve got a puzzle, maybe you can help me figure it out.

    Last month I bought at auction 14×18 watercolor of a scene looking down the Filbert Street Steps on Telegraph Hill. Signed Chris Dandall (?), dated 1956 I couldn’t find anything on the artist but the price was right so I went for it.

    Today, at the same auction I saw 3 small Ted Lewy prints (3x4in or so). One of them was the same image as the Dandal watercolor. The differences are small if you put them side by side.

    It seems likely that if Ted Lewy has a painting that people liked he would have painted many of them. Could it be that he hired another painter, Dandall, to crank them out and meet the demand?

    Have you seen other signatures on copies of Ted Lewy watercolors?


    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi Pete! If it’s not to much trouble I’d love to see images! My email is I have never heard of Dandall. My impression is that from the end of WWII to about 1960 there were many young guys making a living producing images of SF for the tourist market. Ted was notoriously savvy about reproducing them on “packable” items like calendars, playing cards, matchbooks, ashtrays — so a lot of them exist. In SF there are street corners where generation after generation of artists set up canvas on easels, so you see so many versions of the same view. I’ve never heard of Ted hiring other artist. It doesn’t seem likely to me – but I always keep an open mind and I love the new mystery. Thanks for asking! Rayne

  64. Angela Mastriano Says:

    My aunt lived in San Francisco most of her adult life and passed recently at the age of 100. She gave me two small ceramic paintings in 1979 during our visit there. They are 5.25 x 4 inches. One is signed Ted Lewy San Francisco California right into the pottery. They are both cable car pictures. They have holes in the top with a gold ribbon for hanging. The other has a blue and sliver sticker that says it is a reproduction of his original art. Do they have any value? We are down sixing our home and want to give things to people that want them.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi Angela – My sympathy on your Aunt’s passing. Those little pottery art works are very common, but collectible too. In a shop (in good condition) they might be priced between $25 to $40 for the pair. I hope this is helpful. Best, Rayne/Ted Lewy Virtual Museum

  65. Mibby Says:

    I’m not native San Franciscan but fell in love with 8 small postcard sized framed Ted Lewy pictures when I saw them at a second hand shop about 2 years ago. They are hanging where guests to my home can see them and one recently asked me about the artist. My search brought me to this site. How interesting! I’ll have to check back often.

  66. Shirley Murch Says:

    I bought 2 of Ted Lewy’s prints today and I love them. One is Flower Stand and the other is Chinatown, both say San Francisco,California. I would love to know what they’re worth. I can tell they’re from the 50’s because of the framing stamped on the back. It reads Esther Henderson Frame Shop at 2360 E Broadway

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      What size and how are they framed? Bamboo? Under glass?

      • Shirley Murch Says:

        They are framed under glass. Black wooden frame not bamboo. They are 14 x 11. Can I send a picture of them to you

      • collectingjourneys Says:

        I don’t think you need to. So, those would be re-framed, as he always framed with bamboo (probably because it was cheap!) Depending on condition and generally speaking, the pair would go for anywhere from $50 to $100. Ted Lewy STAMPED a signature 90% of the time with black ink. If yours are signed with blue ballpoint ink – they would increase in value, as that would be an original signature. You have two of my favorite images. Enjoy!

  67. Anna Hemingway Says:

    Yesterday at the Goodwill I bought 3 little paintings in pottery tray? There are 2 holes so I am guessing they had some sort of string in them to hang. They are dark but in very good condition. With blue and silver sticker on back. How were these made? Is that paper or directly painted on pottery? The signature is light in color. Value? Not much on ebay.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi Anna! Nice score! Yes, those are Ted Lewys. He bought the trays in bulk in Chinatown and then he printed his art, cut them and glued them into the trays. He used a silver or bronze metallic woven ribbon as a loop to hang them up. This was a popular look in the 1950’s. Your prints might be dark from age, but I’ve seen that actual glue (muselidge?) go dark, too. The main thing is YOU liked them! I hope they make you happy! On value I’ve seen pairs go for $15 or $20, so a fair price for three might be $25 to $30. Best, Rayne

  68. paul cummins Says:

    I was lucky enough to stumble across an 8X10 Ted Lewy print in glass and bamboo frame in a local resale shop at a price I could afford ($12.95.) Do You know where I might find others of that size, and hopefully in that price range? I very much like the cable car scenes, and well, I’m not so particular right now, just want to add a few similar works of his so I can make a “Ted Lewy corner”.
    thanks for your advice.
    Paul Cummins
    Denver, Colorado

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Oh, that’s a total score! Good for you. And so glad you found this virtual museum about Ted. I think another image that really goes with the cable cars is the flower stand image. And I bet if you regularly checked eBay and you’d find more. Generally for an 8 X 10 in an original bamboo frame, starts around $20 – $25. I always feel, like a low-priced score, lowers the average price of your collection, right? Happy hunting! Best, Rayne

  69. Julie Copty Says:

    I’m so glad I found this site! I recently began researching two Ted Lewy items passed down from an aunt who worked at the Emporium in San Francisco for several decades. One is a signed watercolor dated 1948 of the the same image on the Emporium shopping bag shown on your site. It measures 8×6.5 and to my surprise it opened to reveal a handwritten message from Reginald Biggs, former President of the Emporium, thanking the employee for helping during the Holiday season. Maybe Lewy made several of these for Mr. Biggs personal stationery. The colors are just beautiful. I also have a signed print of “California Cable, San Francisco.” I’m looking forward to having both framed to remind me of my birthplace and the aunt who loved the city so much.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Oh, I’m SO glad you found my tribute to Ted Lewy. He’s such an interesting person – a working artist. Yes, he made Christmas cards and stationery and anything for a buck, pretty much. I think it’s VERY cool to have the note from the Prez of The Emporium. That was a big job! They are def. worth framing! Thanks for your note – and your shared appreciation of Ted Lewy. Best, Rayne Wolfe, The Ted Lewy (virtual) Museum

  70. I finally decided to see what I could find on Ted Lewy. My mother Rosie worked for the Lewy until his death. She was what was called in the 1950 and 1960 a day cleaner. After I graduated from Girls High in 1950, I went to work for the Emporium but never met Mr. Lewy. He gave my mother many cards, pictures and etc. She opened a child card while working part-time for the family. After her death in 2007, I gained possession of the art work. Would like to find the museum.

    • collectingjourneys Says:

      Hi Mineola! So glad you found the Ted Lewy page. I’d love to see what you have. Do you have photos you could email or post? – Rayne

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