John H. Bufford


New York
1835-1836: 152 Broadway
1836-1837: 114 Nassau Street
1837-1838: 134 Nassau Street
1838-1840: 136 Nassau Street, corner of Beekman Street

1841-1842: 204 Washington Street, with B. W. Thayer and J. E. Moody
1843-1844: 204 Washington Street, with B. W. Thayer
1845-1851: 204 Washington Street, with B. W. Thayer in 1851 and A. G. Dawes in 1845
1851-1855: 265 Washington Street
1855: 260 Washington Street
1856-1864: 313 Washington Street
1867: 34 Chauncy Street
1871: 190 Washington Street
Finally 141 Franklin Street, and 93 Washington Street

Bufford started as an apprentice under William S. Pendleton in Boston, and soon, as business papers show, reached a responsible position.  Bufford’s outstanding work on the stone for Pendleton is the portrait of William Wirt, after H. Inman, n.d., small.  He came to New York and worked for Endicott and for Nathaniel Currier.  This work is represented by a print of statues of Scott and others for Endicott, and the “View of the Great Conflagration,” (4068), and “Ruins of the Merchants Exchange,” (4071).*  Returning to Boston, he established J. H. Bufford & Co., and was associated somehow at various times with the lithographers mentioned above. The house of Bufford was one of the major lithographic establishments of the period, and produced an enormous mass of lithographs of all kinds and degrees of excellence. The artist and lithographers who worked for Bufford included F. D’Avignon, L. Grozelier, J. E. Baker, Alexander J. Davis, J. B.  Kidd, Charles A. Barry, John B. Bachelder, Theodore Marsden, F. W. Keyl, J. P. Newell,C. L. Warner, Benjamin Russell, Charles S. Humphreys, Charles Wimar, and others. It is also to be noted that as in the case of other major lithographers, Bufford’s prints were in some special cases published by, or in conjunction with, other individuals and houses, such as C. Drew, C. F. Morse, J. B. Bachelder, J. E. Tilton, and Benjamin Russell.

Not the least of Bufford’s claims to distinction is the fact that from 1855 to 1857 one of his apprentices was Winslow Homer (q.v.).  Homer’s biographer justly names as his “most important triumph at Bufford’s,” “Massachusetts Senate, 1856.  Published by James M. Usher, 37 Cornhill, Boston,” folio. This print has forty-two fine portraits and a lovely little view of Boston. The fact that this print was made by the painter of “The Gulf Stream” and “Eight Bells” at the age of twenty, and apprentice learning to draw and earning his living, seems to me to cast quite a new light on the relation of this stream of popular art to art in the more conventional sense.  In this way this is a much more important print than Whistler’s music sheet, or Johnson’s “Marguerite,” because it shows a great painter actually starting as one of the printmakers to the American people.  J. Foxcroft Cole and Joseph E. Baker were apprentices at the same time.

A long article, printed as a news item on the front page of the Boston “Daily Evening Traveller” of March 18, 1864, advertises Bufford’s prints as “the rarest gems of modern art”, and in speaking especially of lithographs from imported engravings, such as “Dante and Beatrice,” “Reading the Psalms,” and “A Day’s Sport,” declares that they are “frequently far superior to the bright original.” The article goes on to say that the firm “has general agencies in large cities and subordinate salesrooms in myriads of towns,” that “Tens of thousands of these lithographs have been sent broadcast over the continent,” that the house has more than a hundred employees, and that it stands at “the vey head of the business.” A catalogue, it is stated, may be had at 313 Washington Street, near West Street, and special attention is called to one hundred large drawing room prints, about three hundred portraits, and a print of Grant on horseback.  About 1867 Bufford was manager of the New England Steam Lithographic Printing Company. The firm survived in various forms until after 1900.

As in the case of Baillie, Endicott, the Kellogs, Sarony, Robinson, the Pendletons, and others it is in some measure futile to single out certain prints for mention, because the volume issued was so great, and the prints were so various, that any selection, especially at this time, is governed so largely by chance, and the collector is very likely to discover others of equal or superior interest.

Perhaps the outstanding Bufford portrait is the large “Abraham Lincoln. From the Portrait taken from Life by Charles A. Barry, Springfield, Illinois, June, 1860.  (Testimonials of likeness.) Boston.  Thayer & Eldridge, Publishers by N. E. States.   On stone by J. E. Baker.  J. H. Bufford’s Lith. 313 Washington St., Boston …1860.”   It should be noted that 100 new lithographs from this print were issued a few years ago. Another interesting Bufford portrait is that of  “The Unrivalled Express Rider, Ginery Twitchell, who Rode from Worcester to Hartford, a Distance of Sixty Miles, in 3 Hours, & 20 Minutes, through a Deep Snow, Jan. 23, 1846,” n.d., small. Mention should also be made of the portrait of Baron Stow, by D’Avignon.   A good small portrait of Martha Washington, from 313 Washington Street, n.d., has a list “No. 155,” so it can be seen how difficult it would be to try to enumerate even the high spots.

Bufford’s views seem to have attracted the special attention of collectors.
The New York City group includes several of great interest and importance. “Skating on Central Park, New York…1861,”  large, is colorful and scarce, ranking with the Currier of this subject.   “Merchants’ Exchange, New York. Drawn by C. L. Warner…1837,” large, has been called by Mr. Fridenberg “the scarcest and most desirable representation” of this subject (Stokes,
Vol. III, Pl. 118 and p. 623).   “St. Marks Church, New York.   On stone by J. B. Kidd, S. A.,” 1836-1837, medium, is extremely rare (Stokes, Vol. III, Pl. 119 and p. 624). The music sheet, 1871, “That Little Church Around the Corner” seems to me to be one of the most attractive and typical of Manhattan views on music sheets. An especially charming and quaint New York view, preserving domestic life in the past, and also something essentially American, is “Columbian Order. Arlington House. Situate in King’s County, Long Island, 7 Miles from New York. The Seat of James Bennett, Esq. M. D. Counsellor at Law, Author of the American System of Pratical Book-keeping, etc. etc.  Who is Sole Architect of his own house and of his own fortune…1839,” large.  Also to be noted as very scarce and interesting are “Hanover Buildings, Hanover Square, N. Y.  On stone by J. P. Newell,” n.d., small, and “Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York,” n.d., large (Stokes, Vol. III, Addenda Pl. 22b, and p. 879).

There are many other interesting and important Bufford views.  “Hancock House, Beacon St., Boston, Mass.  J. H. Bufford after J. P. Newell, published by C. Drew,” and “Boston Massacre.  Drawn by W. Champney…1856,” may represent Boston. There is also a fine set of five views of Beacon Hill, from drawings by J. R. Smith, 1857 and 1858. The Adirondacks mountain views, which sometimes appear bound in blue paper covers, the ten quarto views in New York State, issued in paper cover, 1838-1839, and the sixteen plates drawn by Isaac Sprague and G. N. Frankenstein, in William Oakes’s “Scenery of the White Mountains,” folio, Boston and Cambridge, 1848, are well known.  Separate views of special interest are “Newport, R.I.  View from Fort Wolcott, Goat Island,” n.d., small; “Market St., Portsmouth, N. H., with its triumphal arches & grand procession of the sons of Portsmouth, July 4, 1853,” small; “Jamaica Pond, 1858,” a good skating print; six plates of architectural drawings in “Rural Residences,” by Alexander J. Davis, folio, New York, 1837; and the view of the capital of Vermont at Montpelier.  “On the Prairie.  Chas. Wimar Pinxit .  On Stone by L. Grozelier.  Printed at J. H. Bufford’s.  Published by J. E. Tilton & Co. Boston, 1860,” folio, is one of the best of the Western prints, and has a touch of  F. O. C. Darley at his best-it is too bad Wimar did not do many more.  “The Arkansas Traveller,” though late, preserves in another form one of the most treasured bits of Americana.  A broadside in my possession tells the story of the origin as follows:

Col. Sandy Faulkner, the original “Arkansaw Traveler” was born in Georgetown, Scott county, Kentucky, March 3rd, 1803.  He came to Arkansas in 1829, and settled in Chicot county on the Mississippi river, as a cotton planter. In 1839 Col. Faulkner (with his father, the late Nicholas Faulkner, a Virginian by birth), took up his residence in Little Rock, where he died August 4th, 1874, at the age of seventy-one years.

It is well known throughout the southwest that Col. Faulkner was the original personator of the “Arkansaw Traveler;” it was his pride to be known as such. The story it is said was founded on a little incident which occurred in the campaign of 1840, when he made the tour of the state in company with the Hon. A. H. Sevier, Gov. Fulton, Chester Ashley and Gov. Yell. One day in the Boston mountain, the party approached a squatter’s, for information of the route, and Col. “Sandy” was made spokesman of the company, and it was upon his witty responses the tune and story were founded. On the return to Little Rock, a grand banquet was given in the famous “bar room,” which used to stand near the Anthony House, and Col. “Sandy” was called upon to play the tune and tell the story. Afterward it grew in popularity. When he subsequently went to New Orleans, the fame of the “Arkansaw Traveler” had gone ahead of him, and at a banquet, amid clinking glasses and sparkling toasts, he was handed a violin by the then governor of Louisiana, and requested to favor them with the favorite Arkansas tune. At the old St. Charles Hotel a special room was devoted to his use, bearing in gilt letters over the door, “Arkansaw Traveler.”

Traveler. – Halloo, stranger.
Squatter. – Hello, yourself.
T.- Can I get to stay all night with you?
S.- No Sir, you can’t git to-
T.- Have you any spirits here?
S.- Lots uv ‘em; Sal saw one last night by that ar old holler gum, and it nearly skeered her to death.
T.- You mistake my meaning; have you any liquor?
S.- Had some yesterday, but Old Bose he got in and lapped all uv it out’n the pot.
T.- You don’t understand; I don’t mean pot liquor. I’m wet and cold and want some whiskey.  Have you got any?
S.- Oh, yes-I drank the last this morning.
T.- I’m hungry; haven’t had a thing since this morning; can’t you give me something to eat?
S.- Hain’t a durned thing in the house.  Not a mouthful uv meat nor a dust uv meal here.
T.- Well, can’t you give my horse something?
S.- Got nothing’ to feed him on.
T.- How far is it to the next house?
S.- Stranger, I don’t know, I’ve never been thar.
T.- Well, do you know who lives there?
S.- I do.
T.- As I am so bold then, what might your name be?
S.- It might be Dick, and it might be Tom; but it lacks a right smart uv it.
T.- Sir! will you tell me where this road runs to?
S.- It’s never been anywhere since I’ve lived here; it’s always thar when I get up in the morinin’.
T.- Well how far is to where it forks?
S.- It don’t fork at all; but is splits up like the devil.
T.- As I’m not likely to get to any other house to-night, can’t you let me sleep in yours? and I’ll tie my horse to a tree and do without anything to eat or drink.
S.- My house leaks.  Thar’s only one dry spot in it, and me and Sall sleeps on it. And that thar tree is the old woaman’s persimmon; you can’t tie to it, cause she don’t want ‘em shuck off. She ‘lows to make beer out’n um.
T.- Why don’t you finish covering your house and stop the leaks?
S.-  It’s been raining all day.
T.- Well, why don’t you do it in dry weather?
S.- It don’t leak then.
T.- As there seems to be nothing alive about your place but children, how do you do here anyhow?
S.- Putty well, I thank you; how do you do yourself.
T.- I mean what do you do for a living here?
S.- Keep tavern and sell whiskey.
T.- Well, I told you I wanted some whiskey.
S.- Stranger, I bought a bar’1 mor’n a week ago. You see, me and Sall went shares. Arter we got it here we only had a bit between us, and Sall, she didn’t want to use hern fust, nor me mine. You see I had a spiggin in one eend, and she in t’other.  So she takes a drink out’n my eend, and pays me the bit for it; then I’d take un out’n hern, and give her the bit. Well, we’s getting’ along fust rate, till Dick, durn skulking skunk, be bourn a hole on the bottom to suck at, and the next time I went to buy a drink, thar wurn’t none thar.
T.- I’m sorry your whiskey’s all gone; but, my friend, why don’t you play the balance of that tune?
S.- It’s got no balance to it.
T.- I mean you don’t play the whole of it.
S.- Stranger, can  you play the fiddul?
T.- Yes, a little, sometimes.
S.- You don’t look like a fiddler; but ef you think you can play any more onto that thar thune you can just git down and try. (The traveler takes the fiddle and plays the whole of it)
S.- Stranger, take a half dozen cheers and sot down. Sall, stir yourself round like a six-horse team in a mud hole. Go round in the holler whar I killed that buck, this mornin’cut off some of the best pieces, and fotch it and cook it for me and this gentlemen directly.  Raise up the board under the head of the bed, and git the old black jug I hid from Dick, and give us some whisky; I know thar’s some left yit.  Til, drive Ole Bose out’n the bread tray, then climb up in the loft and git the rag that’s got the sugar tied in it.  Dick, carry the gentleman’s horse round under the shed, give him some fodder and corn; much as he kin eat.
Til.- Dad, thar ain;t knives enough for to sot the table.
S.- Whar’s big butch, little butch, old case, cob-handle, granny’s knife, and the one I handled yesterday?  That’s enough to sot any gentleman’s table, without you’ve lost um.  Durn me, stranger, ef you can’t stay as long as you please, and I’ll give you plenty to eat and drink. Will you have coffee for supper?
T.- Yes, sir.
S.-  I’ll be hanged if you do, tho’, we don’t have nothin’ that way here, but Grub Hyson, and I reckon it’s mighty good with sweetnin.  Play away, stranger, you kin sleep on the dry spot to-night.
T.- (After about two hours’ fiddling), My friend, can’t you tell me about the road I’m to travel tomorrow?
S.- To-morrow! Stranger, you won’t get out these diggings for six weeks. But when it gits so u kin start, you see that big sloo over thar? Well, you have to git crost that, then you take the road up the bank, and in about a mile you’ll come to a two-acre-and-a-half corn patch. The corn’s mityly in the weeks, but you needn’t mind that, just ride on. About a mile and a half or two miles from thar, you’ll come to the damdest swamp you ever struck in all your travels; its boggy enouff to mire a saddle-blanket. Thar’s a first-rate road about six feet under thar.
T.- How am I to get at it?
S.- You can git at it nary time,  ‘til the weather stiffins down sum. Well, about a mile beyant you come to a place whar thar’s no roads. You kin take the right hand ef you want to; you’ll foller it a mile or so and then you’ll find it’s run out; you’ll then have to come back and try the left; when you git about two miles on that you may know you’re wrong fur thar ain’t any road thar.  You’ll then think you’re mighty lucky ef you can find the way back to my house, whar you kin cum and play on that thune as long as you please.

Bufford made what are probably among the very best of the whaling lithographs: “Right Whaling in Behering Straits and Arctic Ocean, with its varieties.  From original drawing by Benjamin Russell…1871,” large. This print shows not only one of the great whaling grounds, but also all of the phases of the great industry, chase sport, or what you will.

In his excellent “American Whaleman,” Hohman records that “Credit for the opening of these new grounds was usually given to the ship “Superior,” of Sag Harbor, Captain Roys, which penetrated the Arctic waters north of Behring Straits in 1848… But with the mid-century  development of the Behring Straits and Arctic Grounds the center of gravity of the right whale fishery shifted to the North Pacific. Vessels sailed from the eastern coast of the United States in the Autumn in order to round Cape Horn during the southern summer, reached Honolulu in March or April, spent one or two weeks there in recruiting, and then departed for the northern season, which kept them in the general vicinity of Behring Straits until October, or November. This was known as the ‘regular season.’  When the severe cold and heavy ice of the winter months forced them to leave such high latitudes, they returned to the Sandwich Islands for several weeks’ recruiting.  Thereafter they proceeded to more southerly grounds, on the lookout for either sperm or right whales, until the following spring, when they again touched at Honolulu and repeated the performance of the previous year. These winter months to the southward were referred to as the ‘between seasons’ period.  In this manner one, two, or three ‘regular seasons,’ requiring respectively eighteen, thirty, or forty-two months, would be passed before returning to the home port in the United States.” During the Civil War the famous “Alabama” captured whalers in the Atlantic. “The Shenandoah,’ on the other hand, struck but a single belated and deadly blow at the whalemen.  Appearing suddenly in Behring Straits in 1865, she surprised and captured virtually the entire Arctic fleet, supposedly safe because of its vast distance from the seat of hostilities.  Within three or four days twenty-five whalers were burned and four others were converted into Confederate transports.” The Arctic whaling was crushed by the famous disaster of 1871. The fleet had become more and more daring, but in that year thirty-three vessels were caught and crushed in the ice.  The twelve hundred whalemen escaped in five barks to Honolulu, but the property loss was more than $1,600,000. Similar disasters occurred in 1876 and 1888, and one of them is dramatically described by Captain George Fred Tilton in his autobiography.

One could take these two prints and tell the whole story of whaling, but this is no place for that, and I shall merely set down the subtitles, to how the extent of the detail: “Right Whaling in Behering Straits & Arctic Ocean with its Varieties. Cape East, Ship abandoned, crushed by  ice.  Towing blasted whale to ship. Trying out at anchor.  Blubber logged. Bow Head Whales
Pursued. The Diamedes. Full ship bound home. Boat in full Chase. Fairway Rock. Ships Trying out in Arctic. Lancing a Bow Head. Taking in the Head with Whale Bone. Ship Boiling her last whale. Walrus on the Ice. Cape Prince of Wales.” The companion, not reproduced here, is equally rich in detail: “Sperm Whaling with its Varieties. Waiting a Chance.  Setting on the Whale. Ship Cutting In. Just Fastening. Fast Changing Ends. Dead Whale Waif’d. Fast Boat Rolling up Sail. Whale Sounding. Mate Running. Trying Out. Stove Boat. Towing Whale to Ship. Whale in a flurry (Dying).”

“Sperm Whaling with its varieties…From original drawing by Benjamin Russell…1870,” large; and “Abandonment of the Whalers in the Arctic Ocean, Sept. 1871.  Published by Benjamin Russell, New Bedford. Mass. 1872,” medium, plate 3 of a set of five. I  have not happened to see the others.

Bufford’s Civil War prints have been mentioned under Bachelder and Baken. There were probably many others, such as “Yankee Volunteers Marching into Dixie,” published by C. F. Morse, n.d., small, and “Major Gen. Joseph Hooker, ‘Fighting Joe,’ leading his Corps to Victory at the Battle of Antietam, Md…1862” small.

There are a number of marine and naval prints of interest, such as “Missionary Packet Morning Star Passing Boston Light.  Painted by C. Drew.  J. P. Newell, Del.  J. H. Bufford, Lith. Pub. & for sale by C. Drew, 18 Court St., Boston,” n.d., folio; “Wreck of the Steamship Union on the California Coast,” medium; “Camel Steam Tug, Lieut. J. A. Winslow, U.S.N., Inventor,” n.d., small; “Bombardment of Forts Hatteras & Clark by the U.S. Fleet…Drawn by Francis Garland (seaman) U. S. Ship Cumberland…1861,” large; “Moonlight View of the Action off Anton Lizardo, March 6th, 1860…after Thompson”; “Capture of the Mexican Steamers (at Anton Lizardo)”; ‘U. S. Ship Saratoga…after Crosby.

Three Bufford prints in the horse group I consider of the greatest interest and importance. “Black Hawk-Lady Suffolk.   From the original painting by Theodore Marsden, as they appeared December, 1854…1855,” large, is, like all of Marsden’s works, a fine subject well done, and the lithography is excellent. The caption contains exact information about both horses, and this, one of the best portraits of these two famous horses, would rank high in any collection of trotters. The print turns up both plain and slightly colored, and often the Bufford is rubbed out and Currier & Ives printed in.

“Sherman Black Hawk. Painted by Chas. S. Humphreys…1856” large, is an excellent print of an early trotter of importance.

“The Famous Roan Horse Capt. McGowan, as he appeared in his 20th mile, in his great match against time of trotting in harness 20 miles in one hour, which he accomplished in 58 minutes and 25 seconds, being the fastest time on record. Over the River Side Park, Brighton, Mass. Oct. 31st, 1865 (and futher detailed record) Pubished by S. Emerson at the River Side Driving Park, Brighton, Mass…1865,” 26. X 17.6.

Music sheets may be represented by “Ossian’s Serenade…1850,” with a vignette of “P.T. Barnum introducing Madelle Jenny Lind to Ossian E. Dodge, The ‘Boston Vocalist’ & purchaser of the $625 ticket for the first Concert of the Swedish Nightingale in Boston”; and “Sea Serpent Polka…1850.”

The range of Bufford’s work was enormous, and in addition to the groups here glanced at, his establishment made book and magazine illustrations, certificates, advertisements, sentimental and fancy prints such as “A Light Cigar,” “The Rabbit,” “Fetching the Old Mare Home.” painted by F. W. Keyl, etc., etc.

One of the outstanding moralistic prints is “Black Valley Rail Road. Great Central, Fast Route, via Beggarstown, Demonland, and the Black Valley, to Destruction.  Tickets sold at All Liquor Shops. Express from Drunkards’ Curve, all taking in being done above that Station, and principally of respectable people. Travellers for all places below that are thrown out without stopping the trains. No accidents by collisions, as only Down trains run over the Road. Parties wishing to leave the Road can return free by the Fountainland Stages. Below Drunkards’ Curve, Ambulances will be used for the wounded and dying outcasts. Key to the Picture.  On the left at the top, trains are starting for the Black Valley. In the  foreground is a heavily loaded train, drawn by an infernal engine, which is fed with Grain, the Piston-rod working in a Decanter. From the Saloon Conductors are throwing out travellers whose money is gone, striking them down with a Bottle. In front, the Fountainland Stage men are swinging flags, ringing bells, and offering a free ride to, and a home in the land of the Crystal River and the Tree of Life. On the right, friends are helping into Ambulances the disabled, wounded and dying who have been thrown out along the track of the road. Beyond, resolute men are trying in their own strength, to get free from the coils of serpents.  Farther on, cars are falling from a trembling bridge. Beyond that is Prisonton, Deliriumton, Demonland, the Great Black Valley and the lower end of the road, from which the only telegram that ever comes is, ‘Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright; at the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like a adder.’  Published by S. W. Hanks, Congregational House, Boston National Temperance Society and Publication House, 58 Reade St., New York. Copyright,” n.d., folio. Here reproduced in full color as a warning to all.

Bufford, as can be seen from the above very brief sketch, represents all the perplexities of these early lithographers with their various cross-hookups with artist and publishers. His work is almost invariably good, his sense of the essential in the general field seems to have been second only to that of Currier & Ives, his importance can be seen, and his contribution to Americana is in the very first rank.