C. M. Coolidge, known for his "poker playing dogs", was a brilliant man with innovative ideas and an entrepreneurial instinct about art. Born in a small town in upstate New York to Quaker parents, he didn't receive a formal college education, but did take some college business classes later in his life. By the time he was 18 of 19, he took a few lessons in portrait painting, along with a course in bookkeeping a few years later. His love for reading resulted in a solid self education. At the age of 19, he started doing cartoons for newspapers in surrounding neighborhoods. A few years later, while living in Rochester, NY, he wrote and illustrated a weekly newspaper column.