As memorialized in the lyrics of Leroy Anderson’s popular Christmas song “Sleigh Ride,” the winter scenes of Currier & Ives have become synonymous with the ideal of a classic American Christmas. The Ohio Historical Society holds over 170 original Currier & Ives lithographic prints in our museum collections, as well as a number of other related items in our archives, and a selection of these are available on Ohio Memory for the public to view.
The wintery images seen here, and many similar prints, were created by the New York-based printmaking firm of Currier & Ives during the mid- to late-19th century. In addition to sentimental scenes of wintertime and the holidays, common subjects matter included historical and current events, the North American landscape, wildlife, and rural life in the United States.
After managing his own lithographic printing house for over 20 years, Nathaniel Currier was joined by James Merritt Ives in 1857 to form the eponymous company. Known for creating “cheap and popular prints,” the company had produced over a million colored prints by the time Ives died in 1895, seven years after his partner. Sold for prices between 5 cents and $3.00, Currier & Ives prints were common home decor around the country and even in parts of Europe, and today help inform the nostalgia that we feel for 19th century America. Talented artists worked on the artwork for Currier & Ives prints, including famous men like Thomas Nast and Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait. Two of the prints seen here–“Evening” and “Pleasures of Winter“–were done by Fanny Palmer, another prolific employee of the company who is recognized as the first U.S. woman to earn her living as an artist.
We hope you’ll take some time during the winter holiday season to view the sentimental images of Currier & Ives on Ohio Memory, or stop in to the Ohio History Center to see some for yourself!
Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!