April 16, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

“The Doings of Turp and Tine” (c.1923-26)

I’m starting to get my Thunderbean sea legs back after moving into the somewhat (read: very) chilly basement back at home. It’s at least a clean space, and it’s where I’ve been conducting my Zoom classes. Supplies have become difficult to keep up with since many of our suppliers are currently closed and Amazon limits when and how many you can order of some things, but we’re getting by. As things are done I’ll be updating here as well as on

So, while we’re all inside, it’s a good time for some of that fancy learnin’! What better to learn about than
how Turpentine is produced! I’m sure your curiosity to know some of these basic facts on Turpentine has been at a fever pitch for years, and, even through the internet is full of information, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve never been able to fully appreciate the process of creating this essential product.

Luckily for all of us, our good friend Craig Davison saved the very film to answer all of our turpentine questions.

The Doings of Turp and Tine is a little bit of a mystery film. It features a title card that mysteriously says ‘Board of Education, Buffalo, NY’… but no other credits or even a year. My guess is that this film was produced as a commercial originally and found a new life as an educational short. It appears to have been made for ‘Hercules Steam-Distilled Wood Turpentine’. The ad for this product remains intact in this version.

My guess is that it was produced somewhere between the early-to-mid 20s from it’s Fleischer/ Bray sensibilities. It was likely produced in New York, or at least by people that had worked in the New York animation industry.

This tidy little one-reeler features our two heros, Turp and Tine, animated workmen, explaining the process of creating this magical liquid in nifty live-action and animated diagrams. All kidding aside, it’s actually a pretty educational short.
When ‘the Boss’ shows up, he appears to be a caricature of a real person. Perhaps it’s the owner of Hercules Turpentine.

Craig was kind enough to lend me the print about 13 years back, to appear on the Cultoons, Volume 3 DVD set. It’s one of the films I’d like to scan in 2k while it’s still on the planet. Maybe someday!

Have a good week everyone!


  • Gee, Turp and Tiny must have the greatest boss in the world!

    The boss is a dead ringer for Thomas Edison. My guess is that the Buffalo Board of Education had previously commissioned an animated film about the great inventor, and the studio recycled the drawings as an economy measure.

    I’ve enjoyed watching this cartoon on the Cultoons DVD, mainly for its jazz soundtrack. There are a couple of Jelly Roll Morton tunes in the middle (“Grandpa’s Spells” and “Black Bottom Stomp”). If anyone can identify the others, please do!

    That turpentine factory looks like a really hazardous place to work. Not exactly the way you’d want to showcase an industry, but it’s still a very informative little film — the sort of intriguing rarity that keeps me coming back to Thunderbean. Stay healthy!

  • Fascinating seeing the live footage of how turpentine was produced. Seeing those guys blowing up stumps and somebody saying the men don’t loaf on the job made me think “if you loaf on that job, you die!” No way is anybody gonna loaf with things blowing up, lol! The music seems to be all Jelly Roll Morton And His Red Hot Peppers tunes. The Pearls and Georgia Swing were heard twice as well as Black Bottom Stomp (which needed to be speed corrected big time).

  • Oops, didn’t realize that this was a silent film, but I enjoyed the jazz soundtrack, nonetheless.

  • “That was good dope the boss gave us, Tiny!”

    I think I saw that panel in a Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic book.

  • It appears Turp and Tine were used as mascots for the Hercules brand as well.

    • Thanks heaps for that link, Chris ol’ Putty-Pate! Incredibly informative.

    • Thanks for that good dope, Chris!

    • Great work on uncovering this, Chris!

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