October 7, 2014

Conflagration of the Steam Boat New Jersey on the Delaware River Opposite Philadelphia, March 15, 1856, in Which 50 Persons Lost Their Lives

George G. Heiss was a mid-19th century Philadelphia lithographer, who specialized in views of fire-fighting equipment. This lithograph shows, in the distance under the winter night sky, clouds of smoke rising from the Philadelphia and Camden Ferry Company steamboat New Jersey as rowboats race to the wreck. In the right of the image, a partial view of the ferry Dido traveling to the rescue is visible. The New Jersey caught fire as the result of defective boilers while in mid-voyage to Camden from Philadelphia via an alternate elongated route necessitated by heavy ice. With the fire spreading rapidly, Captain Ebenezer Corson retreated to Arch Street Wharf in Philadelphia. He came within ten meters of the pier when the pilot house collapsed, leaving the boat impossible to control. Corson survived by leaping ashore before the ship drifted back out on the river, but 50 people died. Heiss, whose studio was located near this event, rushed this lithograph into print. Heiss was born in Philadelphia in 1823. He exhibited at the Artists' Fund Society 1840−43 and was also known as a portrait painter. He worked closely with Thomas Wagner and James McGuigan’s lithography studio from 1847 to 1855, when he opened his own establishment at 213 North Second Street. From then until the early 1860s, he mainly lithographed and published views of fire-fighting engines for local volunteer companies. Heiss published The Illustrated National Alphabet illustrated with lithographs in 1865. He left lithography in 1868 and established an artists’ materials emporium at 25 North 11th Street, which he operated until about 1885.

Cornelius & Baker, Manufacturers of Lamps, Chandeliers, Gas Fixtures, Et cetera. Columbia Avenue & Fifth Street, Philadelphia

William H. Rease, born in Pennsylvania circa 1818, was the most prolific lithographer of advertising prints in Philadelphia during the 1840s and 1850s. This advertisement shows the large Cornelius and Baker industrial building occupying most of the 500 block of Columbia Avenue. Near one of the entries, a man holds a horse hitched to a sulky as an omnibus is about to round the corner.  In the foreground, passengers board the Germantown Road North Fifth Street omnibus, as a man on horseback approaches. Christian Cornelius, a Dutch immigrant silversmith, founded his lighting business in 1827, which became Cornelius, Baker, and Company in 1835. By the 1850s, it operated the factory illustrated here, another on Cherry Street, and a store at 176 Chestnut Street. The firm initially made brass lighting fixtures but later also made zinc fixtures and sculptures, some of which were installed in the United States Capitol. The business was succeeded by Cornelius and Sons and Baker, Arnold and Company in 1869. Rease became active in his trade around 1844, and 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, by 1850 he promoted in O'Brien's Business Directory his own establishment at 17 South Fifth Street, above Chestnut Street. In 1855 he relocated his establishment to the northeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets (after a circa 1853−55 partnership with Francis Schell), where in addition to advertising prints he produced certificates, views, maps, and maritime prints.

Harrison Brothers' White Lead Works and Chemical Laboratory, Philadelphia

William H. Rease, born in Pennsylvania circa 1818, was the most prolific lithographer of advertising prints in Philadelphia during the 1840s and 1850s. This advertisement shows a bird's eye view of the chemical works of Harrison Brothers near Fitler and Harrison Streets in Frankford, lower northeast Philadelphia. The signs on the buildings, from left to right, read "Pyro Acid Works," "Sulphuric Acid Works," "Sugar Lead Works," "White Lead Works," "Alum Works," and "Copperas Works." The scene includes laborers pushing wheelbarrows, putting coal in a furnace, and hoisting barrels using a block-and-tackle pulley system. Deer and horses graze the fields in the tree-lined fields behind the chemical works. Established circa 1793, Harrison Brothers operated, by the time of the Civil War, plants in New York, Maryland, and Philadelphia. It operated this plant in Frankford until about 1870. Rease became active in his trade around 1844, and 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, by 1850 he promoted in O'Brien's Business Directory his own establishment at 17 South Fifth Street, above Chestnut Street. In 1855 he relocated his establishment to the northeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets (after a circa 1853−55 partnership with Francis Schell), where in addition to advertising prints he produced certificates, views, maps, and maritime prints.

McNeely & Company, Manufacturers of Morocco, Buckskin & Chamois, White Leather, Bark Tanned, Sheep, Calf & Deer Skins, Parchment, Vellum, Et cetera. 64 North 4th Street below Arch Street near the Merchants Hotel, Philadelphia

William H. Rease, born in Pennsylvania circa 1818, was the most prolific lithographer of advertising prints in Philadelphia during the 1840s and 1850s. This advertisement shows the large McNeeley factory complex of several industrial buildings, sheds, and fenced yard near a busy street and sidewalk. Workers attend to a maze of drying lines on which hang leather pieces. Delivery carts traverse the yard and depart through the gate under the McNeeley sign. A laborer uses a horse-drawn cart to collect coal from a mound on the side of the main building. Pedestrians, including a woman and boy, stroll and converse on the sidewalk. In the street, an African American couple pushes a filled handcart as a crowded horse-drawn omnibus from the Frankford Road−Fourth Street line passes by. The McNeely family operated a leather factory in Philadelphia from 1830 until the early 20th century. Rease became active in his trade around 1844, and 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, by 1850 he promoted in O'Brien's Business Directory his own establishment at 17 South Fifth Street, above Chestnut Street. In 1855 he relocated his establishment to the northeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets (after a circa 1853−55 partnership with Francis Schell), where in addition to advertising prints he produced certificates, views, maps, and maritime prints.

Rockhill & Wilson, Tailors & Clothiers of Men & Boys Wear, Numbers 205 & 207 Chestnut Street & 28 South 6th Street

William H. Rease, born in Pennsylvania circa 1818, was the most prolific lithographer of advertising prints in Philadelphia during the 1840s and 1850s. This advertisement shows the wide, spacious interior of the clothing store tenanted by Daniel H. Rockhill and Franklin S. Wilson at 205−7 (later 603−5) Chestnut Street. Clerks and patrons organize and sort through goods displayed in piles on tables throughout the ornately decorated store, which is adorned by pilasters, rounded pediments, rosettes, and flowery chandeliers and light fixtures. Two clerks assist patrons in the foreground; one speaks with a woman and a young boy, and the other helps two gentlemen. Rockhill & Wilson moved their business from 111 (later 321) Chestnut Street to this location in 1857 and operated here until 1882. They also had premises at 28 South Sixth Street. Rease became active in his trade around 1844, and 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, by 1850 he promoted in O'Brien's Business Directory his own establishment at 17 South Fifth Street, above Chestnut Street. In 1855 he relocated his establishment to the northeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets (after a circa 1853−55 partnership with Francis Schell), where in addition to advertising prints he produced certificates, views, maps, and maritime prints.

The Crown of Histories

Shown here is volume one of the two-volume Tāj al-Tavārīkh (The crown of histories), which is the autobiography of 'Abd al-Raḥmān Khān, ruler of Afghanistan between 1880 and 1901. After long years in exile in Central Asia, Rahman came to power in Afghanistan with the support of the British, by whom he was later patronized financially, politically, and militarily. He began to suppress various social groups who opposed and threatened his rule, such as the Hazarah and Ghilzai tribes of central and eastern Afghanistan. He also exiled rival individuals and families, including that of Barakzai Khan, Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi. Amir 'Abd al-Raḥmān Khān is famous for creating and centralizing modern state administration in Afghanistan. A note in the volume states that it was translated from English into Persian by Ghulam Murtza Khan Qandahari, the British deputy consul general in Mashhad, Iran, and published in Bombay by Matb-e Gulzar Husaini on July 2, 1904. In fact, this is a reverse translation, as the book was originally published in Persian in Kabul in 1883. Qandahari says in the preface that he translated it “because its absence in Persian was felt and unfortunate.” According to scholar Amin Tarzi, the actual translator from English into Persian was Mirza Husain Ali Shirazi, who published his work in Mashhad in 1903; thus, Qandahari’s contribution to the 1904 edition was less than he implied. The volume is arranged as a preface and 12 chapters. The preface seems to have been written by Qandahari, who praises the supremacy of God and the integrity of Rahman as a restorer of order in Afghanistan and builder of the modern country. Chapter one discusses Rahman’s youth from 1853 to 1863, growing up as a child of royal lineage. Chapter two is about Rahman’s flight from Balkh to Bukhara in 1863, after he was challenged by his uncle, Emir Sher Ali Khan (1825−79). Chapters three and four are about Rahman’s wars with Sher Ali Khan. Chapter five covers his life in exile in Samarqand in 1870−78. Chapter six deals with his year in Badakhshan, in 1879. Later chapters cover his enthronement, his organization of Afghan state affairs, the  annexation of Herat, an overview of Afghanistan during the 1880s, battles with various opposition groups, and the Afghan individuals and families whom he exiled.  A family tree and a photograph of Rahman precede chapter one.