2018 HOLIDAY SUGGESTIONS

 

This issue of Portfolio is dedicated to Kenneth M. Newman who passed away on May 8, 2018, a little shy of his 91st birthday.  Ken is remembered as an expert in eighteenth and nineteenth-century American art.  He was a tireless promoter of Audubon, Currier & Ives, American city views, early American imprints, and maps.  He started working with his father, Harry Shaw Newman, after serving in WWII in 1947.  He also served as editor to Portfolio for over thirty years.  This issue is dedicated to the prints Kenneth Newman appreciated.

Kenneth Marshall Newman was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, on June 23, 1927, to Harry Shaw Newman and Helen Marshall Newman.  Kenneth was their second child, his older sister was Ann.   Harry S. Newman was hired to run The Old Print Shop in the fall of 1927 by Edward Gottschalk’s estate.  The contract included an option to purchase the gallery which he did in October 1928.  Kenneth’s childhood was growing up during the Great Depression.  He was young but remembered times of want, common during this era.  It caused him to be thrifty, not only with money, but will material items as well.  One of his competitors once called him a squirrel, because he would purchase items for future sale rather than immediate sale..... 

Kenneth dropped out of high school in 1945 and joined the Navy.  He was a late arrival to the ship in the Philippines in the summer of 1945 just prior to the surrender of Japan.  He returned to Galveston, Texas, where he was discharged in 1946.  He moved back to Orient, New York, to the home his parents had purchased in 1938.  There he took a job as a carpenter, as he was good with his hands and enjoyed wood working.  He worked for a time with a local contractor before his father convinced him that working in The Old Print Shop would offer him a career that carpentry would not.  In 1947 he began working at The Old Print Shop.  Shortly thereafter, he built a two-car garage at his parents’ home, and in the 1950’s built his own home in Orient after marrying Jerie Reeves on June 15, 1953.

For sixty-six years Kenneth was in the gallery (1947 to 2013), retiring on his 86th birthday.  As a gallery owner he was always ready with smile and positive greeting to everyone who walked in the gallery’s door.  He believed that if you helped and supported your customers, they would purchase something and come back.  He assisted many customers building important art collections through the years.  Today, the gallery is primarily known for American printmaking and maps; however, back in the 1970’s there were folk art carvings, a shelf for old ship models, a shelf dedicated to decoys, even a position for an antique clock.  When one sold, another was brought forward.  Today, these items are only found in specialty antique shops.  

As the market changed during the 1970’s and 1980’s, the focus of the gallery also changed. Painting prices were the first to rise sharply, then American folk art.  Prints were less appreciated and had always been the main focus of the gallery; therefore, Kenneth focused his efforts on American printmaking.  The next change was in 1980 when Kenneth’s son, Robert, brought in early twentieth-century American prints.  Kenneth’s other son, Harry, joined the firm a few years later and added new life into the map department with scholarly research.

 

American Town Views

Kenneth M. Newman promoted town views.  He felt they showed a piece of American history that was being forgotten.  So many important artists produced views during the nineteenth century including William J. Bennett, John William Hill, Fitz Henry Lane, Archibald Robertson, Edwin Whitefield, and many others.  Kenneth enjoyed the later bird’s-eye views and the earlier landscape style city views.  He was especially driven by the extreme rarity of some views.  Smith Brothers, who produced thirty plus views of American cities, was one of the publishers he sought out.  He was also pursued extremely rare city views.  

One very rare view came up at auction in New England in the early 1980’s.  The print was A View of the First Cities of the United States by J. L. Bouquet de Woiseri.  Very few people even knew the name Bouquet de Woiseri, as he only did a handful of items.  Kenneth knew the artist because he had owned other views by the artist including the spectacular view of New Orleans.  He was also aware that the shop had never sold this print before.  A few days before the auction, another dealer called him, likely the only other person who recognized the artist’s name.  He asked Kenneth “what are you doing about the Bouquet de Woiseri,” without hesitation he said “I am buying it” and he did.  Like many extremely rare prints, it was not framed well and needed restoration.  The print was also mounted to an acid board.  When it was conserved and removed from the board, he saw on the verso, an unrecorded first state of the print.  This was a printing proof, two images on one sheet, which added the impossible to rarity.  To this date, no other impression of this image has surfaced.  It is that institutional knowledge that Kenneth had that will be missed at The Old Print Shop.

 

Maritime Images – Sailing, Steam and Whaling.

Kenneth liked maritime images, paintings, prints, and, as mentioned before, ship models.  Ship models stopped being handled by the gallery in the late 1970’s.  We still occasionally have a fine marine painting, and we continue to have one of the finest collection of maritime prints.  This is the only section that will have a Currier & Ives because the gallery plans a catalogue dedicated to prints published by the firm later.  As many of Portfolio readers know, Currier & Ives produced over 7,000 lithographs on almost every subject including marine.

This section is featuring some very rare and important whaling images.  Today, whaling images are politically incorrect; however, it was not only a major industry during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the whale men did not always win.  The images on the far right are after Garneray.  Kenneth tried to purchase the prints every time he found them.  They are the most famous whaling images ever produced.  The pair was mentioned by Herman Melville is his great work, Moby Dick.

In the early 1950’s Kenneth traveled to Maine.  It was a trip he would do at least once a year through the 1980’s.  During this trip he found six Antonio Jacobsen paintings, which were $100 each so he purchased them.  His father scolded him for paying too much, as each needed framing and some minor cleaning.  In his opinion, they were only worth $300 each at the time.  The cost of cleaning and framing used up most of the profit.  Kenneth did what he became so famous for - he put them away.  A few years later he pulled them out again.  His father inquired where they came from, and he reminded him he purchased them in Maine for $100 each.  This time he was congratulated, as they were now worth $1,200-1,500 each.  

 

Advertising Broadsides – Locomotives 

Kenneth really enjoyed ephemera.  He promoted advertising broadsides throughout his tenure at The Old Print Shop.  Steamship, manufacturing, clipper ship cards, trade cards, Kenneth appreciated the quality of craftsmanship in the printing and the history of how manufacturers promoted their products.

Locomotive broadsides – Locomotive advertising in most cases was the highlight of advertising printing.  Because they had to impress the the railroad executives and their financial backers, the lithographs were lavishly produced.  The locomotive manufacturers increasingly were machine shops who were trying their hand at large scale manufacturing.  Some lasted a few years, others many decades.  Their lithographs showed the quality of the product they were offering.  Today, we know the old steam trains as black; but when they rolled off the builder’s line, they were colorful with polished brass.    

We are pleased to have in stock a good collection of locomotive broadsides and other material relating to the railroad industry including railroad maps and picturesque views by Currier & Ives and others.

 

Historical and Genre

Kenneth always said you can learn a lot of history by looking at prints.  My brother, Harry, and I often look at ourselves as historians:  researching, learning, and then promoting small pieces of American history one print at a time.  Genre images allow us to see how we lived in a different age, how we interacted with one another, the clothing, and tools that we used, giving us a small window into our collective past.  

Some historical prints are rare and almost unique, others turn up but are highly sought after.  The image below, Washington Crossing the Delaware, does turn up; however, it is an image that is so well known in American history that it is reproduced in text books.  The monumental painting - twenty-one feet long - hangs in the Metropolitan Museum.  Leutze commissioned Goupil to publish the engraving in 1853.  Item 25, Consecrated to the Memory, is a very rare image.  It is a memorial to Alexander Hamilton.  Most of us know that Hamilton and Burr had a duel and Hamilton lost.  However, not as many people know that the duel was perpetuated over political differences.  Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr not only disliked each other, they were on the opposite political spectrum.  Although Hamilton lost his life, Burr’s political career was also over.  Therefore, the United States lost two great politicians, over political differences.  Fortunately, we found better ways to debate our differences than with a gun.   

 

MAPS – Old Maps for Sale!

I do not know exactly when the map trade began in the United States.  We had map publishers very early in our history; however, the selling of old maps is a twentieth-century item.  The Old Print Shop began handling maps in the late 1930’s.  Harry Shaw Newman learned the map trade from Henry Stevens who had left London early in WWII.  Kenneth really embraced maps publishing a number of Portfolios dedicated to antiquarian maps.  During the early years (1940-1970), there was not a lot of research on maps and cartographers.  The dealers knew what was rare and what turned up.  When Harry S. Newman, Jr., came along, he took over the promotion of maps and he expanded the knowledge in The Old Print Shop.  

Due to his father’s health, Kenneth took over traveling to Europe in the 1960’s.  On a trip in 1965 Kenneth was offered 45 copies of the Ortelius Americae Sive Novi Orbis, a map showing North and South America.  The dealer was R. V. Tooley, a legendary map and book dealer in London.  The collection contained every known variation of the map and color variations from original to modern.  The maps were $25 each.  We were selling them at the time for $100 each, so it was a good purchase.  Today, the map sells for $6,000 to $10,000 depending on state and quality.

Under Harry’s leadership we continue to have an extensive collection of antique maps of the United States and all around the world.  If you are interested in old maps, a visit to the gallery or our web site will be quite rewarding. 

 

Twentieth-Century 

There is no question that Kenneth M. Newman was a great promoter of nineteenth-century images.  When his son, Robert, joined the firm in 1979, he advocated to push into the early twentieth-century American prints.  In 1980 Kenneth allowed Robert to begin purchasing.  His first purchase was a Thomas Hart Benton lithograph.  Kenneth liked the representational artists and enjoyed less the abstract and modern movements.  The three artists listed here Kenneth really enjoyed.

Martin Lewis – When the shop began handling Martin Lewis’ drypoints, Kenneth asked why we did not handle them sooner.  He not only appreciated the images but enjoyed the history and story of New York City the artist captured.  It was also an era he remembered.  The Old Print Shop took over representing the artist’s estate in 1987.  Today, we offer one of the largest collections of the artist’s work, prints, drawings, and even some paintings available for purchase.

Frank W. Benson – America’s sporting artist.  Kenneth was a duck pheasant hunter and like many sportsmen he also gave back.  After his retirement he started raising pheasants and releasing them in the wild.  He enjoyed the many images the Benson created, many in the Ipswich marshes in Massachusetts.  

Stow Wengenroth – Kenneth actually owned a Wengenroth long before we started handling twentieth-century prints.  Kenneth collected prints of the American flag and the lithograph, Bird of Freedom, by Wengenroth shows a bald eagle standing in front of the flag.  Today, there are several others including a wonderful Wengenroth dry brush drawing in his collection.  

We have an extensive collection of twentieth and twentieth-first century printmakers.