2011 Imprint Volume 36-1 Spring

$17.00

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222. Corey Piper, “A Fair Field and No Favor: The Visualization of American Idealism through Currier & Ives Harness Racing Prints,” Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring 2011), 2-12, 12 illus.

 

Corey Piper explores the social resonances that contributed to the success of Currier & Ives harness racing prints. In keeping with the values generally expressed in their imagery, Currier & Ives portrayed harness racing as “a democratic sport rooted in America’s agrarian values, in which performance counted more than pedigree and progress appeared limitless.” Harness racing was America’s first modern sport, and the Currier & Ives lithographs, with their exhaustive captions detailing the place, distance, and times of the races, naming the driver, and often including past accomplishments of the horse, became the visual record. Winning horses and their owners became celebrities. This was particularly true of  William Rysdyk and his trotter Hambletonian, the foundation sire of the American Standardbred. Rysdyk’s story is an American success story— as a young stable hand he purchased Hambletonian for $125 and became rich on the stud fees. Similarly, Flora Temple, another celebrity trotter, was “discovered” and purchased for $175. Early prints stressed the amateur nature of the sport and its connection with agricultural fairs, but harness racing quickly became an urban phenomenon. When wealthy industrialists like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Leland Stanford, and John D. Rockefeller became the sport’s leading owners and breeders, harness racing became socially respectable, and champion trotters became luxury status symbols. Through the efforts of the new elite, the sport became professionalized and the National Trotting Association was founded. Currier & Ives harness racing prints, comprising nearly one-tenth of their total output, document all aspects of the sport in its heyday. 

 

223. Sarah. J. Weatherwax, “James M. Vickroy: Publishing Certificates for America,” Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring 2011), 13-22, 7 illus.

 

James Monroe Vickroy (1847-1913) of Terre Haute, Indiana, was an important publisher of genealogical records and membership certificates for fraternal and labor organizations.  These certificates, generally 27- by-21 inches and printed in bright colors, were designed to be hung on walls as visual statements of personal and family identity. Vickroy’s format provided a central blank pre-printed form to be filled out by the owner. The form was surrounded by blocks of elaborate scenes and symbols appropriate to the subject. Surviving Vickroy products date from 1889 to 1908, and include a Protestant, middle-class Family Record, and an Afro-American Historical Family Record. Membership records for labor groups included the United Mine Workers of America and fire and police departments. Vickroy obtained exclusive rights to produce certificates for twenty-eight fraternal groups, including the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and also published a book of generic lodge forms that were used nationwide. 

 

224. Richard Ellis and James Brust, “Nineteenth-Century Trade Cards Related to Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution,” Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring 2011), 23-34, 19 illus.

 

The article brings together an uncommon group of late nineteenth-century trade cards that reference, through image and text, popular American perceptions of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Most of these attention-getting cards feature images of monkeys engaged in human activities. A metamorphic trade card physically transforms a monkey into a gentleman wearing a top hat and monocle. Several cards use shadows to link man and monkey in insidious ways. Most of the cards are comic; some are satirical. In two cases they touch directly on religious opposition to the implications of Darwin’s theory of natural selection.