According to Joshua Brown of the American Social History Project, this engraving, originally published in an August, 1876, issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, showed how 'The Freed Slave' was an "extraordinary exception to the racial divide that the Centennial marked both socially and symbolically . . . Significantly, this bold, life-size figure holding the Emancipation Proclamation aloft and breaking his own chains was sculpted by an Austro-Italian artist, Francesco Pezzicar, and mounted as part of Austria's contribution to the fair." Scorned derisively by such critics as Atlantic editor William Dean Howells, the statue
was a magnet for African-American visitors of all classes, a powerful visual symbol from abroad that commemorated their hard fought achievements and, even in the face of violence and faltering federal commitment, persistent aspirations. The statue (which returned to Trieste, where it is now housed in the Civico Museo Revoltella, Galleria d'arte moderna) was to have no counterpart in the United States until the unveiling of the Boston memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment in 1897. (Brown: http://picturinghistory.gc.cuny.edu/?p=564)Brown concludes that despite the "abuse that had been showered" on the figure, and
"the general exclusion of African Americans from the centennial's celebrations" as well as the dignified range of black types portrayed "the engraving stands as a powerful statement of dignity and equality." (Beyond the Lines: Pictorial Reporting, Everyday Life, and the Crisis of Gilded Age America, p. 130).
Spanish born Fernando Miranda y Casellas (1842-1925) emigrated to New York City at about the time of the Centennial, during which he made sketches for Frank Leslie. Later a prominent sculptor, Miranda created statues and fountains in several urban areas. Pezzicar (1831-1890), whose own title for the piece was "The Abolition of Slavery in the United States," was a sculptor who lived mostly in Trieste and was especially active in creating cemetery monuments and tombs. Frank Leslie was a New York based publisher who owned some twelve publications, whose pictures remain one of the best sources for lively, informative images of nineteenth-century America. Issued in ten parts of thirty-two pages each, The Historical Register was a special publication printed for the event which had wide dissemination and allowed viewers to follow the exhibition from the opening ceremonies to the conclusion of the exposition. Each part was illustrated with about eighty engravings with a history of all the exhibits. Once the subscriber had collected all ten parts, the publisher offered the opportunity to have it bound. DHC OUT ON APPROVAL
Delightful maps issued about 1890 by the Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Company. This firm was founded by John and Charles Arbuckle of Pittsburgh, PA. They developed a machine to weigh, fill, seal and label coffee in paper packages, which allowed them to become the largest importer and seller of coffee in the world. Their most famous promotional program involved the issuing of several series of small, colorful trading cards, one of which was included in every package of Arbuckle's Coffee. These series included cards with sports, pastimes, historic scenes, and--one of the most popular--maps. The latter cards included not only a map, but also small illustrations "which portrays the peculiarities of the industry, scenery, etc." of the region depicted. These cards, showing Georgia, Alabama, and African-American pastimes, illustrate the vital role that African-American sharecroppers played in Southern agriculture as well as the stereotypes fostered of such laborers.
After a strong start, the magazine found itself struggling to compete with its very similar rival Puck, but revived in the wake of the 1884 Blaine-Cleveland contest when the GOP leadership recognized the power of comic journalism in a political campaign. With GOP aid, Judge boomed during the '80s and '90s, surpassing its rival publication in content and circulation. Bound up in the political and social issues considered by staff cartoonists were the issues of race relations, around which regional politics swirled throughout the postbellum period. Here, those themes are considered from a decidedly Northern perspective, though considerable prejudice is still apparent.
In the early nineteenth century, black face minstrel shows began to appear on the American entertainment landscape. Seen as a distinctly American form of musical, the genre remained steadily popular throughout the century. Characters like "Jim Crow" became standard parts played by white performers, who would use burnt cork to blacken their skin. Modeled after white perceptions of black slaves on Southern plantations, minstrel songs drew unflatteringly on Southern black dialect and vocabulary to construct songs that white audiences of the period found comical. In addition to widespread performances, minstrel songs were popularized through sheet music adorned with heavily decorated lithographed cover images, visual manifestations of the lyrical caricature within.
"Eva Pointing Out the Happy Land." A scene from Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Engraving after a painting by Samuel V. Hunt (credited mistakenly on the print to "A. Hunt") and engraved by Fitz Edwin Jones. 5 1/8 x 6 3/4 (image) plus margins. Published in Cincinnati by The Ladies Repository (March 1856). Excellent condition.
The author of Uncle Tom's Cabin lived in Cincinnati from 1833 to 1850, and her novel was published in serial format in 1851-52 and as a book in 1852. By the time this exquisite engraving was published, the book was a huge best seller. Any reader would have recognized Little Eva teaching Uncle Tom to read in the course of this sad story that had a great impact on the emancipation movement in the world. $145
"Uncle Tom and Little Eva." Hartford: E.C. Kellogg and Buffalo: Horace Thayer & Co., 1852. Lithograph. Original hand color. Expertly repaired tear at bottom left; chips in margins not affecting image. Finlay: 936.
A separately published illustration of a scene from one of the most important novels in 19th century America. The novel has been credited with influencing the Emancipation movement and giving moral fervor to back the Civil War. A lovely idealized illustration. $650
Harry Fenn. "A Road-side Scene Near Charleston." From Picturesque America. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1873. 5 7/8 x 6 3/8. Wood engraving. Excellent condition.
One of a set of prints from Picturesque America, a book inspired by the prose of William Cullen Bryant. This two volume set and others of its genre were very popular during the mid-nineteenth century, as the impending national Centennial inspired a growing sense of national pride. Through their ample illustrations they provided a glimpse of nineteenth century America -- its towns, rivers, ports, important architecture, and other areas of interest. In this image, one of the issues that threatened that sense of nationalism appears: an African-American family, though no longer enslaved, is still living with the harsh realities of the Southern economy during Reconstruction. $40
"American Sketches: A Negro Congregation at Washington." London: The Illustrated London News, November 18, 1876. Wood engraving. 9 3/8 x 13 3/8. Very good condition. $90
Thomas Waterman Wood. "Uncle Ned and I." New York: C. Klackner, 1882. Engraving by J.A.J. Wilcox. 24 3/4 x 16 3/4. Wide margins. Some old surface abrasions, mostly in the margins; expertly conserved. Otherwise, very good condition and fine appearance.
Noted for his sympathetic images of African-Americans, American painter Thomas Waterman Wood earned the Water Color Society of New York's prize with his painting "Uncle Ned and I." Born in abolitionist New England, Wood came of age as a portrait painter in antebellum Boston, where he studied with Chester Harding. His later travels took him around the country and the world before he settled in Montpelier and New York, focusing on American genre subjects. About one quarter of his paintings focused on African-American subjects, who he portrayed with remarkable sympathy for the period. Though "Uncle Ned" echoes the titles "Uncle" and "Aunt" given to enslaved Africans (and held over in post-bellum years), the subject here appears in much the same garb and stance as Wood's Caucasian farm worker subjects. The sentimental dignity afforded to both man and child here reflects the Victorians' obsession with the virtue of childhood. Rather than presenting an African-American man as a comical or political symbol, Wood portrays him here as a man, in much the same position and light as a Caucasian man of similar age and occupation. $850
A.B. Shults "New York City. - Contrasts in the Courtesies of New Year's Day." From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. New York: Frank Leslie, January 7, 1882. 13 7/8 x 9. Wood engraving.
Frank Leslie was one of the most important publishers of wood engraved prints during the second half of the nineteenth century. His Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper was one of the two largest weekly papers in the United States and he was involved with other publications, including the Historical Register of the Centennial Exposition, a bound volume of text and wood engraved illustrations concerning the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. Here, in one of his newspaper's seasonal illustrations, it appears that any man wearing the fashionable Ulster coat is treated best, both by the politicians and by the African-American society ladies. $55
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