New York City Lithographers
Sarony, Major, & Knapp was but one iteration of a variety of lithographic partnerships involving Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896); brothers Henry B. Major (born in England, 1820-1887) and Richard Major (born in England, 1825-1894); and Joseph F. Knapp (1832-1891) and his son Joseph P. Knapp (1864-1951).
Broadly, the credit lines on their prints reflect the following timeline:
1840-1845: Napoleon Sarony and Sarony & Company
1845-1857: Sarony & Major; Sarony & Company
1856-1867: Sarony, Major & Knapp
1864-1884: Major & Knapp
1885-1888: Major, Knapp & Co.
In America on Stone, Harry T. Peters wrote that Napoleon Sarony “was the leading spirit, supplying ideas, securing artists, and drawing most of the portraits, in which he was especially interested.” Sarony is remembered both for his lithographic and photographic work. He was born in Quebec, Canada, and came to New York around 1836. He did lithographic work for Henry R. Robinson and Currier & Ives before starting his own firm with Henry Major in 1845.
Sarony, Major & Knapp emerged in 1857, when they joined with Joseph F. Knapp. In an interview, Sarony later remembered, “In 1858 I sold out my interest [in Sarony, Major and Knapp] and went to Paris to Study art … [after a year] my brother established myself as a photographer at Birmingham, England. In 1867 I returned to New York and opened a photographic studio at 630 Broadway” (New York Dramatic Mirror, June 16, 1894).
Even though Sarony was no longer active in the firm, the name “Sarony, Major & Knapp” appears on prints into the 1860s. The separate firm of Major & Knapp appears in directories as early as 1864. Trow’s Copartnership and Corporation Directory of New York City for 1864 identifies Richard Major and Joseph F. Knapp as the partners in “Major & Knapp.” In general, from 1845-1855, the “Major” referred to Henry B. Major, and from 1855-1868, it referred to Richard Major, though city directories list both brothers as lithographers at the same business address into the mid-1870s.
In 1888, Trow’s directory listed “Major, Knapp & Co. (Richard Major & Joseph F. & Joseph P. Knapp) 56 Park Pl.” In 1889, the partnership had changed to “Knapp & Co. (Joseph F. & Joseph P. Knapp) 56 Park Pl.”
Knapp later became president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. His son, Joseph P. Knapp founded the American Lithograph Company in 1891.
1843-1844: Major, James P., engraver, 10 Watts Street
1845-1846: Major, Henry B., 10 Watts Street
1846-1847: Sarony, (Napoleon) & Major (Henry B.), 99 Nassau Street and 117 Fulton Street
1847-1857: Sarony & Major, 117 Fulton Street
1853-1857: Sarony & Company, 117 Fulton Street
1856-1857: Knapp, Joseph F., 42 Ann Street
1857-1860: Sarony, Major & Knapp, 449 Broadway
1860-1865: Sarony, Major & Knapp, 449 Broadway and 26 Mercer Street
1865-1867: Sarony, Major & Knapp, 449 Broadway
1867: Sarony, Napoleon, Photographic materials, 543 Broadway
1867-1872: Major & Knapp Engraving, Manufacturing, and Lithographic Company, 71 Broadway
1872-1873: Major & Knapp, 56 and 58 Park Place
1874-1884: Major & Knapp, 56 Park Place
1885-1888: Major, Knapp & Co., 56 Park Place
1889: Knapp & Co., 56 Park Place
Advertisement from The Crayon, January 3, 1855, p. 16. Courtesy of the HathiTrust.
Major & Knapp, Edwin C. Burt’s Fine Shoes [Lithograph, undated]. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Sarony & Major, A View of Sutter’s Mill & Culloma Valley [Lithograph, 1845-53]. Courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery.
William Bauly (artist), Sarony, Major, & Knapp, Fate of the Rebel Flag [Lithograph, 1861, published by William Schaus]. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Sarony & Major, The Storming of Chapultepec, Sept. 13th, 1847 [Lithograph, 1848]. Courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery.
Sarony & Major, Jenny Lind [Lithograph, ca. 1846-50]. Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.
Sarony & Major, Ackerman. 101 & 103 Nassau Street [Lithograph, 1848]. Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.