Henry Simons. Wagon and United States National Coach Works, Philadelphia


This advertising print from around 1865 for the Henry Simons Wagon and U.S. National Coach Works in Philadelphia features an ornate border containing a series of vignettes displaying several types of wagons, coaches, and carts produced by the manufactory. The vignettes are captioned with details about the uses of the products and surround a central view of the exterior of the "Simons, Coleman & Co. National Wagon Works" factory and office at 1109 North Front Street. The vignettes depict African American plantation workers transporting sugar cane to a barge by a "cane cart;" laborers and settlers hauling materials out West by "road wagon" and "catamaran;" an ambush of U.S. Army soldiers, a baggage wagon, and an ambulance by Indians; and a Philadelphia port scene with a disinterested constable overseeing the wharf congested with carts and wagons as docked ships belonging to the Henry Simons factory ready for departure. The print also contains an allegorical scene with a Northern factory worker and his Southern patron extending their hands to each other before the shadowy figure of a factory agent; a large American eagle clutching the American flag; promotional text; and a listing of the factory's several business locations and names of agents. Philadelphia’s high-quality blacksmith work and large local lumber supply made Philadelphia the primary national and international manufacturer of wagons immediately following the Civil War. The print is by William H. Rease, the most prolific lithographer of advertising prints in Philadelphia during the 1840s and 1850s. Born in Pennsylvania circa 1818, Rease became active in his trade around 1844. Through the 1850s he mainly worked with printers Frederick Kuhl and Wagner & McGuigan in the production of advertising prints known for their portrayals of human details. Although Rease often collaborated with other lithographers, a listing in O'Brien's Business Directory indicates that by 1850 he had founded his own establishment at 17 South Fifth Street, north of Chestnut Street. After a partnership with Francis Schell that lasted from about 1853 to 1855, in 1855 he relocated his shop to the northeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets, where, in addition to advertising prints, he produced certificates, views, maps, and maritime prints.

Last updated: September 2, 2015