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Friday, March 25, 2016

Gold Rush Washout

Inspired by the limericks from a few weeks back, this week we're highlighting another humorous book from our collections: Journey to the gold diggins, by Jeremiah Saddlebags. This book of comic drawings was published in 1849, at the height of the gold rush, and pokes fun at the over-eager would-be gold miners.


J. A. Read, Journey to the gold diggins, by Jeremiah Saddlebags.Cincinnatti: U. P. James, [c. 1849]. A 849j. Collection of the Rosenbach.
 
Journey to the Gold Diggins depicts the tale of the sad-sack 49er Jeremiah Saddlebags. In the sequence below he sees a poster advertising 500 tons of gold in California, looks at a specimen with  a banker, and decides to go for it. He has heard that miners use "cradles" to mine for gold and so he immediately buys a large baby cradle, which he will tote through much the rest of the book.

J. A. & D.F. Read, Journey to the gold diggins, by Jeremiah Saddlebags.Cincinnati: U. P. James, [c. 1849]. A 849j. Collection of the Rosenbach.

Of course a real mining cradle was a rocking sluice, such as the one shown below in an 1883 magazine illustration.

Henry Sandham - The Cradle
Henry Sandham , The Cradle,Published in The Century illustrated monthly magazine; 1883 Jan., p. 325. Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

Anyway, Mr. Saddlebags evaluates his options and chooses the quickest route to California: sailing south by sea, disembarking at the isthmus of Panama, crossing Panama overland, and picking up another ship on the Pacific side to take him to California. Contemporary guides promised that this journey would only take a month, which was faster than taking a ship all the way around the southern tip of South America or the five or six months needed to cross the United States to California by an overland route.

J. A. & D.F. Read, Journey to the gold diggins, by Jeremiah Saddlebags.Cincinnati: U. P. James, [c. 1849]. A 849j. Collection of the Rosenbach.

As you might anticipate, Mr. Saddlebags hits one snag after another. He gets seasick on board ship, then attacked by an alligator as he crosses the isthmus.

J. A. & D.F. Read, Journey to the gold diggins, by Jeremiah Saddlebags.Cincinnati: U. P. James, [c. 1849]. A 849j. Collection of the Rosenbach.

He eventually reaches the Pacific side and boards a new ship, only to have it attacked by pirates. He manages to talk his way out of walking the plank by joining the pirate crew, but that turns him into a prisoner when a navy ship stops the pirates.

J. A. & D.F. Read, Journey to the gold diggins, by Jeremiah Saddlebags.Cincinnatti: U. P. James, [c. 1849]. A 849j. Collection of the Rosenbach.
Saddlebags reaches California as a prisoner, where he is narrowly saved by a friend who vouches for him. He does eventually manage to stake out a claim and finds a huge lump of gold, only to be set upon by other miners who try to take it for themselves.

J. A. & D.F. Read, Journey to the gold diggins, by Jeremiah Saddlebags.Cincinnati: U. P. James, [c. 1849]. A 849j. Collection of the Rosenbach.

Mr. Saddlebags eventually regain this gold, after the other miners kill each other off, but he then loses it to gambling. He does win back a smaller lump and sets off for home. En route he is attacked by Indians, who, like the pirates, spare his life on the condition that he join them.

J. A. & D.F. Read, Journey to the gold diggins, by Jeremiah Saddlebags.Cincinnati: U. P. James, [c. 1849]. A 849j. Collection of the Rosenbach.

When he eventually returns home, more dead than alive, his banker tells him that all the gold he brought back is “rubbish.”

J. A. & D.F. Read, Journey to the gold diggins, by Jeremiah Saddlebags.Cincinnati: U. P. James, [c. 1849]. A 849j. Collection of the Rosenbach.
In the end, instead of great wealth, Mr. Saddlebags has to settle for amusing “his lady love" by recounting his adventures.



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster at the Rosen-Blog.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Stamping Out the Stamp Act

Today marks the 250th anniversary of the repeal of the Stamp Act, which was passed on March 22, 1765 and repealed on March 18, 1766.  As you may (or may not) recall from your American history classes, the Stamp Act was a tax on printed paper, including newspapers, legal documents, and playing cards. It was strongly opposed by the American colonists, who objected to being subjected to direct taxes passed by a parliament in which they had no representation.

The Stamp Act was levied as a result of the financial distress caused by the 7 Years War, of which the French and Indian War was the American aspect. Much of the tax money was intended for the maintenance of British troops in the colonies. This January edition of the Boston Evening Post prints an article arguing that the colonies were being unfairly maligned for not having paid their share of the war costs.

Boston Evening Post. 20 January 1766. AN B7473. Gift of Steven and Susan Raab.  Collection of the Rosenbach
As the article explains: 
Those who  have written in favor of the Stamp duty, lately imposed upon the American colonies, has said, it was but reasonable that they should raise something towards the exigencies of their mother country, who was now brought so greatly in debt, and (as such writers assert) chiefly by supporting them against their enemies. But those writers do not seem to know how much the colonies assisted their mother country in the late wars, not what vast expense there were at on that account. We will therefore briefly take notice of the same.

Boston Evening Post. 20 January 1766. AN B7473. Gift of Steven and Susan Raab.  Collection of the Rosenbach
The same paper also includes another article of London news on its second page, which includes the note that:
It would be well if interest could be made to get the Stamp-act on the colonies repealed immediately. Such appears to be the desperate disposition of some of the colonies, that it is to be feared they will rather meet ruin in all its dreadful forms than submit to what they so generally account a violation of their liberties as Englishmen.

Boston Evening Post. 20 January 1766. AN B7473. Gift of Steven and Susan Raab.  Collection of the Rosenbach
 The "desperate disposition" referred to in this paper had led the colonists to decry the act in their elected assemblies, such as Virginia's House of Burgesses, and to convene a special Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to oppose the measure. It  had also led to mob action and threats of violence against the stamp commissioners, who resigned their commissions and fled the colonies.

On March 18, 1766, parliament did repeal the bill, although in the Declaratory Act they reaffirmed their right to impose laws on the colonies. In this April 12 letter to the Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence, Benjamin Franklin mentions the repeal, noting that "We have been extreamly busy with general American affairs. I sometimes since advised the Speaker of the Repeal of the Stamp Act," before moving on to an update on trade duties and Admiralty courts. The letter also includes updates on a petition "praying a Repeal of the Act of Parliament prohibiting the Paper Money of the Colonies being a lawful Tender."

Benjamin Franklin, autograph letter signed to Committee of Correspondence. April 12, 1766.AMs 1078/28. Collection of the Rosenbach 
He comes back to the Stamp Act in his closing paragraph, writing:
I hope the Behaviour of the Colonists on the Repeal, will be decent and grateful to Government here, which will greatly strengthen the Hands of their Friends the present Ministry, as very different Things are prognosticated. I send you the Lords Protests; and also the best Account we have of the Debates on the Repeal; but it is very short and imperfect Mr Pitt having spoke in the whole near three Hours.

Benjamin Franklin, autograph letter signed to Committee of Correspondence. April 12, 1766.AMs 1078/28. Collection of the Rosenbach

The news of the repeal was, in fact, greeted with joy and public celebration in the colonies, although  there were some dust-ups between Americans and British soldiers, as in the case of a Connecticut town where soldiers cut down a liberty pole erected for the repeal.

All in all, the Stamp Act lasted less than a year from passage to repeal and since collection only started in November 1765, it was actually in effect for less than five months. But the act and the responses it engendered from colonists and the British government were indicative of growing tensions that would continue to play out over the next ten years.



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster at the Rosen-Blog.




Friday, March 11, 2016

Marvelous Miniatures: Anna Claypoole Peale

Anna Claypoole Peale, born in 1791, came from an accomplished family of artists. Her uncle was the famous Charles Willson Peale and her father, James Peale, had been trained by his older brother and was an accomplished painter of miniatures and, later on, of still lives. (Unlike her cousins, Anna avoided the pressure of being named after an artist--Charles Willson Peale named his sons things like Raphael and Titian and one of his daughters was Angelica Kauffmann Peale).

Anna's own artistic prowess was recognized early; her father gave her artistic training and she sold her first paintings when she was only fourteen. She exhibited at PAFA beginning in 1814 and, along with her sister Sarah Peale, was elected to the Academy in 1824, the first two women to be included. Like her father, she eventually specialized in miniatures;Charles Willson Peale took her to his Washington studio in 1818 to further her career, and by the 1820s she had a thriving practice in Baltimore and Philadelphia. Miniatures were very popular in the early 19th century; less expensive and more portable than full scale oil paintings they provided an accessible and intimate way to own a likeness of a loved one.

The Rosenbach owns four examples of Anna's miniatures:

Anna Claypoole Peale, miniature of Julia Rush Williams. Watercolor on ivory. 1980.1 Gift of Mrs. Isabel Ault and Mrs. Philip D. Armour. Collection of the Rosenbach
This miniature is of Julia Rush Williams, of the famous Philadelphia Rush Family. (The Rosenbach also has a great collection of papers relating to the Rush--Williams-Biddle families). The miniature is watercolor on ivory, which was the standard medium used for miniatures in the 19th century, and is set in a typical frame with an acorn-and-leaf hanger.

Anna Claypoole Peale, miniature of  Sally Etting. Watercolor on ivory. 1988.3. Collection of the Rosenbach
This is a close-up of a portrait of Sally Etting, which is in the same type of frame as the Williams portrait. Etting was from a prominent Baltimore Jewish family (which intermarried with the Gratzes) family and she also had her portrait painted by Thomas Sully. Our portrait was originally thought to represent Rebecca Gratz, but similarities to the Sully portrait of Etting led to a reattribution.

Anna Claypoole Peale, miniature of  unknown sitter. Watercolor on ivory. 1997.1 Gift of Dr. & Mrs. Kenneth D. Rapoport. Collection of the Rosenbach
We don't know the sitter for this portrait, but the signature of the artist is very clear at the center right: ACP. The reverse of this miniature's frame is also lovely and contains a fragment of fabric, possibly from the dress the sitter is wearing in the portrait.

Anna Claypoole Peale, miniature of  unknown sitter (case). 1997.1 Gift of Dr. & Mrs. Kenneth D. Rapoport. Collection of the Rosenbach
Anna Claypoole Peale, miniature of  Abraham Sellers. Watercolor on ivory. 1954.1606. Collection of the Rosenbach
The last miniature is our only male sitter by Anna Claypoole Peale. The sitter is Abraham Sellers, who is probably a relative of Coleman Sellers, Sophonisba Peale's husband (Sophonisba was Anna's cousin). The signature "Anna C. Peale 1824" is scratched in at the lower right.



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster at the Rosen-Blog.

Friday, March 04, 2016

There Was A Sweet Girl of Kingsessing...

In 1846 Edward Lear published an illustrated collection of 72 limericks entitled A Book of Nonsense. The volume, which is referenced in our exhibit Wonderland Rules: Alice at 150 , helped popularize the limerick form and inspired a number of similar books by other people and organizations.

One of these, The New Book of Nonsense, was published and sold in Philadelphia in 1864 to benefit the Great Central Fair. The fair was a fundraiser for the U.S. Sanitary Commission, a relief organization that brought supplies and medical help to Union soldiers fighting in the Civil War. The Great Central Fair was held in Logan Square and you can see some great images of it at the Library Company's website.

The new book of nonsense. A contribution to the Great Central Fair in aid of the Sanitary Commission. Philadelphia: Ashmead & Evans, 1864. A 864n. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The New Book of Nonsense includes 53 limericks and illustrations; in one of them it promises itself to be "the funniest place at the fair."

The new book of nonsense. A contribution to the Great Central Fair in aid of the Sanitary Commission. Philadelphia: Ashmead & Evans, 1864. A 864n. Collection of the Rosenbach.
 An innocent stranger asked, "where"
Is the funniest place in the fair?
"Where the Nonsense book lies" the committee replies,
Is the funniest place at the fair.

As with many limericks, those in the New Book of Nonsense frequently poked fun, sometimes crudely, at people from particular places  (The once was a man from...). Targets included Yankees, southerners, and foreigners, but also Philadelphians.  Here's one about an overly delicate lady from Rittenhouse Square.

The new book of nonsense. A contribution to the Great Central Fair in aid of the Sanitary Commission. Philadelphia: Ashmead & Evans, 1864. A 864n. Collection of the Rosenbach.

There was a young lady of Rittenhouse Square,
Attacked by a worm as she went to the Fair,
But a champion brave was determined to save
This frightened young lady of Rittenhouse Square

The girl from Kingsessing was much more formidable:
The new book of nonsense. A contribution to the Great Central Fair in aid of the Sanitary Commission. Philadelphia: Ashmead & Evans, 1864. A 864n. Collection of the Rosenbach.

There was a sweet girl of Kingsessing
whose actions were truly distressing
For she sat on the pump, and threw knives at a stump
An appearance not quite prepossessing

 I feel like I should try to come up with a good limerick for the Rosenbach, but I am finding myself stymied for the rhymes. If you have any ideas, feel free to post them!




Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster at the Rosen-Blog.