Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The Holiday Season Isn't Complete Without Currier & Ives
The partnership of Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives was formed in 1852 and lasted until 1902. Its popularity stemmed largely from commercial projects, including sheet music, architectural plans, and pictorial images for the New York Sun newspaper. Their timeliness to produce images based upon topics from the daily news gained them national exposure, and allowed them to pursue other projects like landscapes, and images of Americana - and the implied enjoyments found therein.
Currier was a trainer printer and worked in several establishments before starting his own business in 1835, on Wall Street in New York City, called simply 'N.Currier, lithographer'. He did all types of subjects, just to keep the business flowing, but when he latched onto the idea of doing prints about newsworthy and natural disasters, the business took off. Currier was introduced to Jim Ives through his brother Charles. Ives' background as a bookkeeper and an artist served Currier's interests well. They worked together for five years, and then formed the partnership of 'Currier & Ives' in 1857. The two complimented each others' professional ideas and personal temperaments and became lifelong friends as well as business partners.
On a side note, Currier's relatives helped in the business. His younger brother, Charles, was trained as a lithographer, and patented a lithographic pencil called Crayola, while his artistic brother, Lorenzo, traveled the US sketching ideas for the numerous Americana images that are so popular today. His cousin, who supplied Currier with all his presses, operated a printing press business called Cyrus Currier & Son, in Newark, New Jersey.