Two historic prints were big sellers for Litchfield Auctions at their recent Nov. 30-Dec. 1 sale. According to Antiques and the Arts, the lot, estimated at $1/1,500, finally went to a lucky bidder for $22,100.
The lot contained “The Road—Winter” and “The Road—Summer,” a pair of hand-color lithographs drawn by Otto Knirsch and published by Nathaniel Currier in 1853 (four years before his partnership with James Merritt Ives created the iconic “Currier & Ives” firm).
So why the high price?
“The Road—Winter” shows a young couple traveling through a snowy landscape in a cozy winter sleigh. While it does fit squarely within the genre of idyllic winter scenes so beloved by Currier & Ives collectors, the image is noteworthy for other reasons.
That young couple depicts none other than Mr. Currier, himself, and his second wife, Lura Ormsbee Currier.
The image was originally presented by Currier’s staff as a Christmas gift to the forty-year-old Currier and his twenty-nine-year-old wife, then in their sixth year of marriage. Currier liked the print so much that he decided to add it to the company’s production line.
The print would later be memorialized as the object of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s interest in a well-known photograph documenting the President-elect’s February 1933 visit to the Old Print Shop in New York City.
Image credits (from top): The Road—Winter, courtesy of the Old Print Shop. Photographs of Nathaniel Currier (D. Appleton and Company) and Mrs. Nathaniel Currier (William Kurtz), Harriet Endicott Waite research material concerning Currier & Ives, 1923-1956. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Photograph of “President Roosevelt. Examining a print by Currier & Ives on his visit to The Old Print Shop in 1932,” digital copy from the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, New York Public Library Digital Collections.