The Old Print Shop

Fanny F. Palmer


Frances Flora Bond Palmer, better known as Fanny Palmer, was a British-born illustrator and lithographer. She taught drawing and ran a lithography business with her husband in Leicester, England before immigrating to the United States at some point in 1843 or 1844. Although they started up a new lithography business in New York, it became defunct by 1849. Fortunately for Palmer, Nathaniel Currier of Currier & Ives (then known as N. Currier) had already discovered her talents and was routinely commissioning her for work. It wasn't long until she was hired on full time, making her the firm’s only woman illustrator.

Currier & Ives was one of the largest art publication firms in the United States in the 19th Century. Founded in 1834, they initially produced commercial lithographs (letterhead, etc) before finding business in the artistic end of the medium. The firm changed from N. Currier to Currier & Ives in 1857 when Nathaniel Currier partnered with James Merritt Ives. Over the course of their history, the firm produced over eight-thousand different titles, of which Fanny Palmer is credited with creating more than two-hundred.

Although little known in her day because of cultural trends (artists received little to no credit for their work at the time, something fellow Currier & Ives artist Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait complained bitterly about), Palmer has been gaining greater recognition in recent decades. It does not help, of course, that Palmer was quite discrete and is noted for camouflaging her signature within her drawings. So, between the ideals of the day and an easily overlooked signature, her name was left off of many a work. Her distinct style, however, has helped historians label her contributions.