Rube Goldberg - The Awards

Reuben Lucius Goldberg was a name that had become attached to several current competitions. The competitions usually involved designing a machine that is able to accomplish a simple task while going through a series of complicated methods. The machine itself can look either intimidating or humorous – maybe both – because of the number and types of parts involved.

So, Rube Goldberg was able to inspire all sorts of award-giving bodies as well as young artists and inventors who love to tinker with machines. His name, therefore, has strongly become associated with awards and competitions. This does not mean that he was not able to receive his fair share of awards. He did. Rube Goldberg had been recognized for his contributions to several forms of art: editorial cartooning, sculpture, funny cartooning, inventions and more. He was a man of both art and science, thanks to his natural talent and to his father’s desire for something more practical and logical for him.

The cartoonist-engineer – who we know to be a lot of other things – was able to receive all sorts of awards during his lifetime and even after. Here are the following awards that he received.


Rube Goldberg had a sort of love affair with newspapers even as a child. When he was young, he had a paper route where he delivered newspapers. This was the time when he first appreciated how good the paper used for the publications smelled. Little did he know at that time, however, that he would become involved in making big news. Of course, he did not even know that he would make it as a cartoonist. His father wanted him to take up engineering. It was a clash that seemed hopeless at first. Rube did not know yet then that those opposing desires would later help him become the artist that people had admired him to be.

A Heart for Journalism

Goldberg, however, was destined to become a great cartoonist because his heart continued to yearn for art and journalism. He turned his back on the corruption of his engineering job for the sewer system of San Francisco for meager and unsecure salary of submitting cartoons to newspapers. That was the right move in terms of values, but was it also the right move when it comes to profession?

Contributions from Science

He didn’t remain long in the engineering field. He quickly sought work as a cartoonist and started becoming successful in 1915 when his cartoons started becoming syndicated. He was coming up with diverse cartoons: wacky, inventive and even political. It was a political cartoon for a newspaper that would win him the Pulitzer in 1948. Though he had left engineering, the things that he learned while studying in the field had left quite an impression. His stint as a sewer system engineer under the control of corrupt politicians had also triggered more of his political side.

What is the Pulitzer Prize?

The Pulitzer Prize is an award based in the United States to people who excelled in the fields of online or newspaper journalism, musical composition and literature. It was thus named because it was established by Joseph Pulitzer, who was a Hungarian-born publisher. The prize was founded back in 1917. Columbia University administers the awards. There are twenty-one categories to compete in for the Pulitzer. In all but one of these categories, the winner receives a certificate plus $10,000. The public service category is often awarded to a newspaper but could also be given to an individual. The award for this category is a gold medal.

Editorial Cartooning Category

Rube Goldberg received a Pulitzer under the category Editorial Cartooning. He drew a cartoon for a newspaper displaying the possible devastation that could result from the detonation of nuclear weapons. Nukes were timely topics at a time when people had just started recovering from the ravages of the Second World War.

Criteria for the Award

The Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning is given based on the following criteria: editorial effectiveness or the message of the cartoon, pictorial effect, drawing quality, and originality. Rube Goldberg drew an editorial cartoon that commented on nuclear weapons right after the second Great War was concluded. That should be enough to spark attention. That should be enough to make his message effective. With decades of experience and a detailed style of drawing, Goldberg also had enough to contribute in terms of the quality and originality of his works. In fact, other awards had focused on just how original his cartoons were.

History of the Category

The Editorial Cartooning category was included in the Pulitzer Awards five years after the award-giving body was established. The category awards an artist a year since 1922 except for some years when nobody gets awarded.

One of the best things about the Pulitzer Prize is that the award-giving body issues an official citation or explanation of why it has chosen the particular individual as the awardee for the year. This is not just a popularity contest that anyone could have one. This is serious business – the Pulitzers!

Why Rube Goldberg Won

Through the cartoon and the Pulitzer award, Rube Goldberg showed his journalistic eye and overall cartooning prowess. He was a man who was interested in what was going on around him. He had proven this time and again, especially with his invention cartoons that commented on the state of the modern inventions of his time and how people received those conveniences, that he was a cartoonist who had an eye on art, the sciences and politics. His versatility enabled him to create cartoons that went beyond the wacky although he did know how to entertain as well. Continue to next page.