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The Civil War created a great demand for printed portraits of the important individuals, including politicians, soldiers, sailors, and others. Large, separately issued portraits were made, but the majority of prints were small images which were issued separately (often as carte de visites) and as book or magazine illustrations. Many of these images were based on the new medium of photography and these prints provide us with a rich body of accurate and affordable images of these Civil War figures.
An unusual series of small portraits of Union officers issued early in the Civil War by Louis Prang from Boston, better known for his later chromolithographs. The title page says that this was "Vol. 1" and Prang talks in the preface about future volumes, requesting officers to send him photographs and biographies, but this was the only volume issued. Each portrait, based on a photograph, comes with a short biography, which Prang says was supplied either by the subject himself or "their intimate acquaintances and person friends."
Priced at $45 each, except as noted.
In 1863, even before the Civil War ended, historian Samuel Mosheim Schmucker (1823-1863) produced A History of the Civil War: with a preliminary views of its causes, and biographical sketches of its heroes.
Schmucker died that same year, but his work was revised and completed
by after the war by L.P. Brockett (1820-1893). The second edition,
according to the title page, contained "full, impartial and graphic
descriptions of the various military and naval engagements, with the
heroic deeds achieved by armies and individuals, touching scenes and
incidents in the camp, the cabin, the field and the hospital. And
biographical sketches of its heroes." This edition was also expanded in
its illustrations, in particular with a group of lithographed portrait
groupings of major military figures on both sides of the war. Though no
lithographer is given, some of the other prints in this volume were by
P.S. Duval & Son, so these may be as well.
Cartes de Visite. Various publishers, ca. 1862-65. Lithographs and steel engravings. Ca. 4 x 2 1/2.
These fascinating and unusual prints would have been purchased by citizens who wished to have the images of war leaders to contemplate. Pierce's Boston Lithography cites an 1862 advertisement selling these in Boston, and all the ranks attributed to these men date from that same year. What is surprising is the inclusion of Confederate leaders in the group because sedition laws prohibited the printing of pictures sympathetic to the South. Perhaps objective portraits were exempt, or the works slipped by the censors. The printers were: L. Prang in Boston; Charles Magnus at 12 Frankfort St., N.Y.; Elias Dexter at 562 Broadway, N.Y. and William S. and A. Martien in Philadelphia.
Engravings from a series of carte de visite sized portraits of prominent Confederate generals and statesman. Each portrait is beautifully reprinted on antique cream paper with important biographical information on the inside of the folded card. Few Confederate portraits were issued and they are highly sought by collectors today.
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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. December 5, 2013