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During the 1840s, Nathaniel Currier produced many memorable and nostalgic lithographic prints of everyday life, notably the heart-warming winter scenes of the northeastern U.S. Nathaniel hired his 21-year-old brother Charles, in 1841, taught him lithography, and in turn Charles developed a new lithographic crayon that he patented and called the "Crayola."In 1852, Charles arranged a meeting between his brother and James Merritt Ives. As a native New Yorker, Ives was a self-taught artist and professional bookkeeper.From the beginning, Ives set out to improve the way Currier kept his books, by reorganizing the firm's immensely large collection of art and the way sales were processed. With his artistic, as well as business abilities, Ives also increased production throughout the company.Due to his business acumen, Ives was made general manager and a full partner of the firm in 1857. The company was renamed "Currier and Ives," and their business began to be described as “publishers of cheap and popular pictures.”Between 1835 and 1907, the company produced more than 7,500 different titles and one million prints. During the Civil War, the demand for Currier and Ives' lithographs was so high they developed colored stencils to speed up the production process.Buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, Currier died first in 1888 and then Ives in 1895.
Currier & Ives Prints
From 1834 to 1907 the firm of Currier & Ives provided for the American people a pictorial history of their country's growth from an agricultural society to an industrialized one. For nearly three quarters of a century the firm provided "Colored Engravings for the People" and in the process became the visual raconteurs of nineteenth-century America. Some of the finest artists of the day were engaged by the firm to produce a variety of prints, including images of newsworthy events and prints depicting every subject relating to American life: sports, games, home life, religion, entertainment, views of cities, and so forth. Charming and colorful, these are wonderful examples of the work of "America's printmakers."
We have a large inventory of original prints by Nathaniel Currier and Currier & Ives. A small selection is illustrated below and a text only listing of our complete inventory is also available. If there is a particular print or type of print which you are seeking, please feel free to contact us so that we can keep you informed of their availability.
A word about condition: Most Currier & Ives prints that you will find on the market are not in stable condition and will deteriorate over time. Such inherent instability is exacerbated over the life of the print by acidic framing materials, like wood backing or wood-pulp matting. Even if the print currently shows no signs of waterstains, foxing, or significant browning, the paper is still acidic and as such will deteriorate, more and more visibly, over time: any print which has been in contact with an acidic environment will be itself acidic. This fact is important to bear in mind when purchasing Currier & Ives prints. They can be deacidified, but this is an added expense and should be factored into the 'purchase price' of the print. For this reason, we take special care to deacidify and otherwise conserve the Currier & Ives prints in our inventory. When you purchase these prints from us, you have a print which is stable and will last indefinitely, assuming it is properly treated henceforth.
A sampling of our inventory of Currier & Ives prints
In 1856, A.F. Tait provided Nathaniel Currier with a series of western images that were very popular and helped establish Tait in his career as artist for the firm. Though he never visited the American West, his prints were seen by more people that any other western prints of the time and so they essentially provided the American public with their image of the West during the mid-nineteenth century. $6,850
Go to listing of other Currier & Ives western prints, by Tait and others
--> "An Anxious Moment. 'A three pounder sure'" Currier & Ives, 1874. Medium folio 14 x 18 3/8. Paper lightly toned. Else, very good. C:241. Denver.
The Tait large folio fishing print was so popular that Currier & Ives came out with a slightly smaller, medium folio print that is a very close copy just over a decade later. $5,200
Set of the four continents. Currier & Ives, 1857-72. Small folios. Vignettes, ca. 9 x 13. Wide margins. Strong color. Some minor stains in margins. Denver.
L. Maurer. "The Rubber. 'Put to his Trumps.'" N Currier, 1838-56. Large folio. 19 5/8 x 15 3/4. A few short repaired tears one just into image at right. C:5247.
A wonderful images of a card game in a room at a home or tavern. Two spectators look on the intense action at the table. A print of George Washington (no doubt a Currier print) hangs over the mantle. $1,600
"'A Full Hand.'" By "F.C." Currier & Ives, 1884. Small folio. Vignette, ca. 13 1/4 x 10. Repaired tears at edges. C:2204.
A delightful cartoon showing a father with four children in his "full hand." $475
Harry T. Peters, Currier and Ives: Printmakers to the American People (1942), is the authoritative work, containing 192 plates and an excellent introduction. Both Colin Simkin, Currier and Ives' America (1952), and Roy King and Burke Davis, The World of Currier & Ives (1968), contain useful introductions and reproductions. See also Currier's own Currier & Ives Chronicles of America, edited by John Lowell Pratt and with an introduction by A. K. Baragwanath (1968). □
Highly Collectable, With Broad Appeal
Currier & Ives, Winter in the Country. The Old Grist Mill, large-folio hand-colored lithograph, 1864. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.
Currier & Ives lithographs that fall in the middle range of estimates will often have a scene that is less tied to American history, and may be scarce, but more frequently found on the market. A mid-tier Currier & Ives might also have minor condition issues such as toning.
Currier & Ives, Central Park, the Lake, small format hand-colored lithograph, 1862. Estimate $200 to $250.
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History of Currier and Ives
Vintage American would not be complete without a representation of the Currier and Ives lithography. Most of us have some memory of a Currier and Ives print hanging in our parents or grandparents homes, or in a favorite antique shop. These prints convey the spirit of American expansion, technical development, pastoral and city living during the 19th Century.
Nathaniel Currier (1813 – 1888) established his firm at 1 Wall Street in 1834. He began his apprenticeship in lithography at the age of 15 with William and John Pendleton of Boston. He became publicly known when he produced a lithograph of the Planter’s Hotel in New Orleans after a fire in 1835. At the time, illustrated news was scarce and the lithograph of the hotel fire was done in such a way to report it as news. This began a career for Currier which combined his artistry for lithography along with a desire to illustrate grand and great aspects of American life, politics, and history.
In 1852, Currier hired as bookkeeper, James Merritt Ives (1824 – 1895), who became his partner in 1857. Ives brought a shrewd business sense and taste for perfection to the firm, that combined with Currier’s skill in lithography forged the success of their firm. The two proceeded for the next 70 years to produce the lithographs that many of us have come to love, depicting our American heritage, from their shop in New York City.
During the 70 years of the firms existence, they produced prints depicting almost every aspect of American life. It was very important to them to capture historical events, but the demand for cheap, decorative prints increased, compelling them to supply the demand as they were shrewd businessmen.
The firm of Currier and Ives produced more than 7,000 different lithographs including such subjects as: the pioneer and westward expansion the life of the Indian the history of the United States’ in its wars and heroes politics presented with humor hunting fishing horse racing boxing all manner of sports religious themes and the rightness of temperance pastoral life and farming simple small town and city life children, fruits and flowers to decorate Victorian homes in essence all manner of American experience represented in beautiful and colorful images.
Some of the most popular series of lithographs from the firm of Currier & Ives include:
American Farm Scenes
Currier and Ives produced a series of lithographs about American farm life, known as American Farm Scenes, showing each season and the type of work done on a typical farm in the 1800s during winter, spring, summer, and fall.
American Railroad Scenes
The Currier and Ives series of lithographs known as American Railroad Scenes, is one of their most popular series. Railroad lithographs gave the Victorian patron something exciting and exhilarating along with scenes of American landscape. With the bold engineer at the controls ready to blast the whistle, the dapper conductor running a tight ship among passengers, and the hard working men shoveling coal into the mighty steam engine – this series suited the farmer or mill worker buying dollar art to the aristocrats decorating a gilded home.
Hunting and Fishing Scenes
The Currier and Ives Hunting and Fishing series of lithographs, once again show drama in art. Today, these scenes may seem shocking to those of use who purchase our meat within the safe confines of the cellophane wrapped package at the grocery store, but to the 19th Century American, these were normal scenes, part of life and existence.
The Currier and Ives firm used the artwork of an artist named Arthur Fitswilliam Tait who had come from England to the United States in 1850. A dedicated outdoors man, he spent decades sketching the backwoods of New York State while pursuing his passions of hunting and fishing. From his New York studio, he readily sold his sketches and paintings.
The firm of Currier and Ives bought many of his paintings and made them into prints. Although some of the photographic accuracy of Tait’s paintings were lost when the canvases were copied onto lithographic stones, still the vibrant drama was conveyed along with the recognizable use of color that is particular to Currier and Ives.
American Sailing and Shipping Scenes
Currier and Ives recorded the history of steamboat development in American through a series of shipping lithographs. Below are shown some of these lithographs one with a steam ship cutting through the strait in the Hudson River channel surpassing the clipper ships of sailing lore another of the various craft typical on the Mississippi River and finally ships sailing by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.
American Wilderness Scenes
Many of the Currier and Ives Western wilderness scenes were the stuff that dreams were made of. With brilliant colors and dramatic rugged artistry, they portrayed aspects of the West that Easterners read about. This series of lithographs covers National Park scenes, prairies with wild horses running free, conflicts between settlers and Native peoples, the wagon trains, and just the drama of settling the West that captured the imagination of many in this country and around the world.
American Village Scenes
This firm of lithographers were not only skilled at their craft, but were expert at judging the buying tastes of Victorian America. Many well bred Victorian folk would never get to see these scenes in person, but they would display them above their mantels with pride.
Currier and Ives also did a line of lithographs that showed a more pastoral nature that appealed to people for their living and dining room walls. Shown here is a family of quail from this series of pastoral nature scenes.
For more detailed information about these famous lithographers, Nathaniel Currier and James Ives, please see the Currier & Ives Foundation run by the descendants of the two families.
* Vintage American has permission from the Currier & Ives Foundation to reprint Currier & Ives lithographs .
“Like A Picture Print by Currier and Ives”
As memorialized in the lyrics of Leroy Anderson’s popular Christmas song “Sleigh Ride,” the winter scenes of Currier & Ives have become synonymous with the ideal of a classic American Christmas. The Ohio Historical Society holds over 170 original Currier & Ives lithographic prints in our museum collections, as well as a number of other related items in our archives, and a selection of these are available on Ohio Memory for the public to view.
“The Skating Pond” at Central Park, via Ohio Memory.
The wintery images seen here, and many similar prints, were created by the New York-based printmaking firm of Currier & Ives during the mid- to late-19th century. In addition to sentimental scenes of wintertime and the holidays, common subjects matter included historical and current events, the North American landscape, wildlife, and rural life in the United States.
After managing his own lithographic printing house for over 20 years, Nathaniel Currier was joined by James Merritt Ives in 1857 to form the eponymous company. Known for creating “cheap and popular prints,” the company had produced over a million colored prints by the time Ives died in 1895, seven years after his partner. Sold for prices between 5 cents and $3.00, Currier & Ives prints were common home decor around the country and even in parts of Europe, and today help inform the nostalgia that we feel for 19th century America. Talented artists worked on the artwork for Currier & Ives prints, including famous men like Thomas Nast and Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait. Two of the prints seen here–“Evening” and “Pleasures of Winter“–were done by Fanny Palmer, another prolific employee of the company who is recognized as the first U.S. woman to earn her living as an artist.
“Pleasures of Winter” from the “American Country Life” series, via Ohio Memory.
We hope you’ll take some time during the winter holiday season to view the sentimental images of Currier & Ives on Ohio Memory, or stop in to the Ohio History Center to see some for yourself!
Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!
Currier & Ives: the Essential Decoration for Victorian Homemaking
From humble beginnings in the Victorian era, Currier and Ives became a successful New York-based printmaking firm that produced more than a million prints of hand-colored lithography.
Catharine Esther Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, authors of American Woman’s Home (1869) considered Currier & Ives prints essential for proper homemaking:
Lithography is a method of printing reliant on the fact that oil and water don’t mix. The process allows precise control over where ink will adhere to a print plate. The result is beautifully detailed artwork.
Currier and Ives made prints from paintings by fine artists as black and white lithographs that were then colored by hand.
Lithographic prints were inexpensive to buy and the firm labeled itself “Publisher of Cheap and Popular Prints” and advertised “colored engravings for the people”.
Nathaniel Currier from Massachusetts started the firm in 1834 when he was 21. Having apprenticed with Pendletons of Boston to learn the trade, he found success creating lithographs of local and national events.
In 1857, Currier’s bookkeeper James Merritt Ives became a partner. Ives had a keen sense for gauging what the public wanted and helped select the images that the firm would publish.
Employing celebrated artists for original works, Currier and Ives prints were among the most popular wall hangings of the Victorian era.
The 1872 Currier and Ives catalog proclaimed:Bringing Home the Logs, Winter Landscape, 19th century (colour litho) by Currier, N. (1813-88) and Ives, J.M. (1824-95) colour lithograph The Farmers Home – Summer, 1864 Salmon Branch, Granby Connecticut, 1869 The Trout Pool The Return From The Woods The Road – Winter by Otto Knirsch, published by Currier and Ives, 1853 Hero and Flora Temple, 1856 Western River Scenery, 1866 Echo Lake, White Mountains c. 1875 American Homestead Winter. Published by Currier & Ives, 1868 Three Jolly Kittens The levee, New Orleans, 1884 The Falls of Niagara-From the Canada side, 1868 Winter in the Country. Published by Currier & Ives, c1863 The Drew Grand Saloon The Boston Tea Party The American Fireman Winter morning in the country. Published by Currier & Ives, c1873 Sailor departure Black-eyed Susan Robinson Crusoe and man Friday, 1874 Off for the war, 1861 Home in the wilderness. Published by Currier & Ives, c1870 A mansion of the olden time. Published by Currier & Ives, between 1856 and 1907 New York showing Equitable Life building Morning in the Woods, 1835 Life in the Country – Evening Washington crossing the Delaware on the evening of Dec 25th. 1776, previous to the battle of Trenton. Published by Currier & Ives, c1876 Kiss-me-quick, 1840s Grand, national, temperance banner – dedicated to every son & daughter of temperance, throughout the union Hunting, Fishing and Forest Scenes Friendship love and truth
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Remember When Grocery Stores Handed Out Beautiful Dinnerware for Free?
If you spent a certain amount of money at Grand Union shortly after the 1976 bicentennial, you'd be rewarded with one or more additions to your blossoming collection of Liberty Blue&mdasha beautiful dinnerware pattern developed by the Royal China Company for promotional use in the supermarket chain. In mid-century America, it was not uncommon to receive dinnerware handouts in exchange for purchases not just in grocery stores, but at other businesses, too. Movie theaters once held "Dish Nights," at which they'd hand out free dinnerware to all attendees. The more you attended, the larger your set!
If your own mother didn't use one of these patterns as her everyday dinnerware, it's highly probable that someone you knew did. But don't think they're still free&mdashthese dishes offer up such a heavy dose of nostalgia that they they've become highly collectible. Here are a few of our favorite patterns, as well as some Etsy sellers who can help you complete your collections (that is, since the A&P no longer will).
Add a splash of old school Americana to your dinner table by snatching up your own set of Liberty Blue plates&mdash they're $19.50 each at UntamedHeartsProject.
The Blue Willow pattern depicts folklore scenes with Chinese characters and motifs. In classic blue and white, it was one of the most popular of supermarket promotional sets. MariaClaireInteriors is selling a multi-piece set for $94 .
A Country Living favorite thanks to its unabashedly retro design, Blue Heaven was a promotional design produced by the Royal China Company of Sebring, Ohio&mdash a big player in grocery store dinnerware lines. Head on over to ionesAttic to snag a ten-piece set for $42. One can never have enough turquoise!
Royal China Company's immensely popular Currier and Ives collection was produced for several decades and came in multiple colors and scenes, among them "The Birthplace of Washington," "Early Winter," and "Low Water in the Mississippi." Three plates decorated in "The Old Grist Mill" scene can be purchased for $24 at VintagewayFurniture.
This elegant mid-century modern pattern&mdash known as Swiss Chalet Alpine&mdash was used as a promotional line for both grocery stores and gas stations. A set of six bread and butter plates can be purchased for $26 at MerrilyVerilyVintage.
The supermarket trend might have been spurred by the success that the DUZ laundry detergent brand experienced when they began inserting a free piece of Golden Wheat dinnerware into each package. The pattern was produced for approximately 20 years by the Homer Laughlin Co., and is one of the most recognizable of all promotional dinnerware lines. Grab a few luncheon plates for $12 a pop at corrnucopia.
Known as Trellis, this dainty pattern was one of many designs that graced the breakfast set pieces found inside packages of Quaker oatmeal in the 1920s and '30s. Snatch up this adorable teacup and saucer for $12.95 at weelilywonders.
We'd give our eye-teeth to open up a box of oatmeal and discover brilliant green sandwich glass inside. Anchor Hocking developed these beauties for Quaker Oats Company&mdash t oday, a set of six glasses retails for $27.50 at catiques .
Currier & Ives: Celebrating Horses of a Bygone Era
The Currier & Ives print,
The Road, Winter (1853).
There’s a happy feeling
Nothing in the world can buy
When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie
It’ll nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives
These wonderful things are the things
We remember all through our lives!
A Currier and Ives political cartoon
and horse racing portraits weren’t the only subject matter for Currier & Ives. The company produced political cartoons as well, such as the one featured above that lambasts a Union volunteer militia officer during the Civil War. In it, the general consults a tactical guide as his troops are dying around him and a Confederate officer insists that if his troops allow the Union general to live, the South is sure to win the war.
The Awful Conflagration of the Steamboat Lexington
Currier & Ives prints were produced using lithography, which replaced the more time-consuming method of engraving images. In lithography, a large stone is ground to a flat surface and a mirror image is painted on the stone with a grease pencil.
A lithography stone used for producing an image of Princeton University. Photo by Andreas Praefcke
Oil-based ink is applied to the stone, which is attracted only to the greasy ink, leaving the wet areas of the stone blank. The stone is placed on a press, a piece of paper on top of it, and a heavy board on top of the paper. The press applies even pressure to the board and the image is transferred to the paper.
Currier & Ives had in-house artists colorize most of their lithographs, but some were sold uncolored so art students could finish them.
entitled The Leaders, three of the fastest trotting horses of their time are portrayed: Jay Eye See, Maud S, and St. Julien. The colorized version of this print, which can be seen at the Springfield Museums in Springfield, Massachusetts, was produced using a newer technique called chromolithography. This method used multiple lithograph stones with the same image, each one featuring a different color to be printed on the paper. Chromolithography streamlined the production process because prints no longer needed to be hand-colored.
The Leaders (1888), featuring the greatest trotting horses of their time: Jay Eye See, Maud S, and St. Julien
Maud S was a record-breaking granddaughter of Hambletonian. She was one of the first horses that inspired breeders to consider the importance of pedigree when breeding a future race champion.
The Battle of the Kings (1884), St. Julien (front) portrayed in a match race with Jay Eye See.
retired from the business in 1880 and James Ives continued working for the company until his death in 1895. Over the next dozen years, photography and offset printing began to threaten the Currier & Ives business and James Ives’ son Chauncey liquidated it in 1907. More than one million prints were made by the company during its existence.
Tag Archives: Currier and Ives
Tomorrow marks the start of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that gave the South 100 days to end the rebellion or face losing their slaves. True to his word, on January 1, 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation immediately freeing nearly 50,000 slaves in Union-held areas of the Confederacy such as Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and the Carolinas. The Proclamation also made the Union Army a force of liberation as it marched south, as well as ushering in the full participation of African American troops.
To celebrate this decisive moment in the quest for human freedom we have posted an essay on the history of the Emancipation Proclamation—from how it was drafted and promulgated, to the lasting effect it had on history.
We have also worked with the Fairfield Museum and History Center on their exhibit, Promise of Freedom: The Emancipation Proclamation, which includes Lincoln-signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment, as well as other fascinating artifacts. The exhibition runs from September 23, 2012 to February 24, 2013.
Although we recently sold a rare Lincoln-signed Leland-Boker broadside of the Emancipation Proclamation, we still have a group of interesting items to offer: