2009 Imprint Volume 34-2 Autumn


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213. Donald C. O’Brien, “T. Addison Richards’ American Scenery Illustrated and the Origin of Its Plates,” Vol. 34, No. 2 (Autumn 2009), 2 – 17.

T. Addison Richards (1820-1900), a landscape painter, art teacher, and author and illustrator of travel books, was an English immigrant who ultimately settled in New York City. Once there he wrote for Harper’s Magazine and published novelettes and other tales. Realizing that the American public had a keen interest in topographical views, he published American Scenery, Illustrated in 1854, containing thirty-two steel engravings of views of different sections of the country. O’Brien shows that many of these were copied from William Henry Bartlett’s American Scenery (1837, 1840). Some were taken from Richards’ earlier book, Georgia Illustrated, and others came from Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832-1834 by Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied. The plates had been engraved for other publications by the New York engravers, Rawdon, Wright & Hatch or later by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Smillie. Apparently the plates were in the company’s inventory, and Richards’ publisher purchased them rather than commissioning new plates. They simply rubbed out the attribution and titles. The selling of plates became standard practice, as O’Brien points out, and remained so until it became fashionable, as well as cheaper, to use wood engravings or lithography. 

214. Laura Groves Napolitano, “’Equally Clever and Humorous’: Lilly Martin Spencer’s Reassuring Lithographs of Children,” Vol. 34, No. 2 (Autumn 2009), 18-33.

This article examines lithographs of children designed by American genre painter Lilly Martin Spencer and published by William Schaus between 1853 and 1860. By analyzing images featuring both biracial working-class youths and white middle-class boys and girls, Napolitano uncovers how these pictures may have served the purpose of comforting Anglo-Americans afraid of what they saw as menacing minority groups, including African Americans and Irish and German immigrants. At the time New York police and journalists saw immigrant street children as a threat to social stability, and some linked miscegenation between Irish immigrants and working-class blacks to declining morality, poverty, and crime. In her first two lithographs, representations of biracial children entitled Power of Fashion (1853) and Height of Fashion (1854), Spencer used humor and parody to render the children unthreatening and apparently inferior to her middle-class New York viewers. The artist, however, soon abandoned the fraught imagery of amalgamation and instead concentrated her efforts on portraying the “charming mischief” of white youngsters—pictures that likely provided a humorous and calming antidote to the perceived danger posed by urban urchins and products of miscegenation.

215. John Zak and James Brust, “Which Currier & Ives Prints Were Most Popular in the Nineteenth Century,” Vol. 34, No. 2 (Autumn 2009), 34-41.

In this article, the authors studied original Currier & Ives sales lists and catalogues in an attempt to determine which print subjects were most popular in the nineteenth century. Since virtually no business records have survived, these primary source documents issued by the C&I firm serve as a guide to the relative importance Currier & Ives placed on different categories of prints. By examining which subjects were listed first and how many titles there were in each category, the authors conclude that for small folio prints, which were the bulk of the firm’s output, sentimental and religious prints, now among the least popular with collectors, were the most popular at the time they were issued. The findings for the more expensive large and medium folio prints were different, however, and more closely approximated modern collectors’ taste for landscapes, marine, and sporting prints.