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History in Art


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Nathaniel Currier was a printmaker who started the business and James, who started as the firm's bookkeeper, became Currier's partner in 1857. Neither man was an artist. The prints were drawn and lithographed by other persons, such as J. E. Butterworth, George H. Durrie, Louis Maurer, Frances or "Fanny" Flora Bond Palmer, Charles Parsons, Napoleon Sarony, and Thomas Worth - to name a few. Nathaniel Currier died in 1888 and James Ives died in 1895. The firm carried on until 1907 under the direction of their sons, Edward West Currier and Chauncey Ives. The business of the firm was to produce lithographed prints which were intended to be sold to the general public for picture framing and display in the home or business place. For nearly seventy-five years, the firm provided "Colored Engravings for the People," and called themselves "Printmakers to the People." Currier and Ives gave America a nineteenth-century pictorial history of the country's growth from an agricultural society to an industrialized one. Many newsworthy events were recorded with prints depicting every subject relating to American life: religion, politics, historical figures, views of homes, rural homesteads, sports, music, entertainment, games, life in the home, children, wildlife, hunting, fishing, railroad trains, ships, and many more. Currier & Ives' prints were sold either directly from Currier & Ives' shop in New York or through other printsellers around the United States and overseas. Other printsellers were always eager to carry the latest images because of the quality and variety of Currier & Ives prints. The number of recorded Currier & Ives prints is now over 7,500 different titles, although new titles turn up occasionally, all carefully recorded by the American Historical Print Collectors Society in order to maintain a current listing of Currier & Ives prints. There are prints of political cartoons, banners, portraits, historical prints, certificates, moral and religious prints, sentimental prints, prints for children, pioneer home scenes, humor, lithographed sheet music and much more.

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