Born in Saxony, Erich Funke, the d’Egnuff coming later, emigrated to New York in the years after World War One. Once there, he began trained as a fencing assistant coach under Anthony Greco, who may or may not be a direct relation of the famous Italian fencing family of Grecos. In about 1933, he moved to San Francisco and opened the Funke Fencing Academy which changed locations many times but ran continuously until Funke’s death in 1965.
Funke’s salle was the first San Francisco club frequented by Helene Mayer when she moved to the Bay Area. She and Funke had met in New York when she was on her way to Los Angeles for the 1932 Olympic Games.READ MORE...
A generous soul, Funke assisted other fencing master – essentially competitors – in establishing their own reputations.
In 1940 he gave space to the penniless Hans Halberstadt to begin teaching prior to opening his own salle d’armes and did the same in 1957 for George Piller prior to the opening of Pannonia Athletic Club. Particularly in his early years in San Francisco, Funke was a master at getting stories and photos of fencers into the local newspapers. This Archive is fortunate to have his scrapbook from this period, and it is chock full of wonderful articles promoting this or that event in the area.
The Latin meaning of that, according to Google Translate, is “Wine of the Spirit”. As a philistine in the ways of Latin, I’ll have to accept it. No clue. Truly.
A number of people over the years have done impersonations of the inimitable Hans Halberstadt and they range wide in both style and substance. Charlie Selberg knew Hans well and would often quote him during fencing lectures or footwork drills.
I’ll say up front that I’m sick of my desk and computer. I still spend long parts of my day here, but motivation to string my thoughts together in a coherent way have been sparse.
A number of things have come my way recently through various paths. Taken individually, they add to the collection in nice ways, but don’t necessarily give me the grist to crank out a full story around them.
I’m not sure of the original source for the story, but it goes like this. In the early days of the AFLA, precursor to today’s USA Fencing, the East Coast was in charge.
The above picture has been assumed to be Hans Halberstadt for a very long time. I thought so myself, even after scanning it (thanks Kathy Krusen!) at high resolution and having every opportunity to review it with a critical eye.
One of my favorite subjects to write about it the famous foilist and Olympic champion, Helene Mayer. There are numerous photographs of her in the Archive collection and since she was based in California for many of her competitive years, her story fits my focus.
After spending the better part of this week running down stories that haven’t yet fully revealed themselves, I thought I’d revisit one of my many favorite subjects: Helene Mayer. There are a lot of photographs of Ms. Mayer out there, but several of the following are, I believe, unique to the interwebs until now.
A recent gift to the Archive has me dumbfounded. It’s existence was something I had speculated about in a vague way, but never dreamed of finding proof for. Much less, having the proof come directly to me as a donation to the Archive.
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