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.
In the woods of Southern Oregon off a dirt road and across a valley from the winding I-5 was a fencing salle d’armes built by Charlie Selberg in an old barn. It was stuffed to the rafters with fencing memorabilia dating back decades.
When I have the opportunity to visit someone who has fencing memorabilia that I can scan for my collection, I often don’t get a chance to thoroughly take in the significance of everything I’m working with.
It’s a struggle to not take cheap shots at the drawings in old fencing books, at least for me. Sometimes though, the artist’s interpretation of the message the author is hoping to convey is just too good to forego a bit of a laugh.
Typically, US National Foil Champions are reasonably well documented, particularly in their home town. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Alfred R. Snyder, 1944 US foil champion.
There are many ways in which the scrapbook of Erich Funke d'Egnuff is a gold mine, not least of which are the amazing variety of newspaper photos of fencers. The scrapbook covers the years 1934 to about 1942 and the fencers of that time had a style all their own. ...
As many times as I’ve mentioned the Halberstadt Scrapbooks on this website over the years, I was shocked to realize that I have not, until now, written a defining story about what they are and (to me, at least) their significance.
Having not one, but two, Helene Mayer trophies land in The Archive recently seems to have been a precursor to a small ‘golden age’ of incoming H. Mayer material that I can’t explain in any way that I can explain, but I’m happy for the good fortune.
I’ve had two brain-melting events in the last few weeks that have left me in a state of awe that I could really be so lucky. To many, it might be tough to understand how I can get such a thrill out of the circumstances that have arisen.
I’ve been perusing the pages of “The California Fencer”, later just “The Fencer”, a West Coast publication that circulated for a few years following WW2 and prior to the start of the national American Fencer magazine.
Have something to share or add? Our goal is to capture the stories we know are out there. Plus photos, videos, home movies, posters—you name it. All this material helps preserve the stories of West Coast fencing.
Want to know when we publish a story? Or release a new documentary? Sign up for our email list and we’ll keep you posted.