Artifact of the Month – Commonwealth Model

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5.1.3

This month’s artifact is one of my favorite pieces in the collection.  It is a music box model of the steamboat Commonwealth.

Commonwealth was built in 1854-1855 by Lawrence & Foulkes in Greenpoint, Long Island, NY for the Norwich and New London Steamboat Company.  She was built for service between New York and Connecticut, and was commanded by Captain Jerome Wheeler Williams until 1864.  In 1860 she was acquired by the Stonington Line, and then by the Merchants Navigation and Transportation Company in 1863.  December 29, 1865, a fire at the wharf where Commonwealth was docked caused the ship to be destroyed by flames.   Read more

Returned stolen materials

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No. IIII. Stockton City (1)

And again I have another batch to share with everyone.  It is a small group of stereoviews, which are something I find very interesting as I had never heard of them before working here.   For those who are not familiar with them, they are those cards with two images.  The idea is that in a viewer, the photos line up to create a 3-D effect to your eyes, and so these were very popular when introduced.

Stockton City   Read more

Artifact of the month – Bank Note print

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July’s artifact of the month is a print showcasing different designs of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, well known bank note engravers

The company originally started with Freeman Rawdon, who established it sometime after 1825.  In 1828 he partnered with Neziah Wright, establishing Rawdon, Wright & Co. in New York City.  Prior to this, Freeman’s older brother, Ralph Rawdon, had formed Rawdon, Clark & Co. with Asahel Clark.  The two Rawdon brothers then merged their companies in 1832 to create Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Company.  In 1847, Tracy Edson’s name was added and they became Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson.   Read more

Artifact of the Month – Painting of SS Kaiser Wilhelm II

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kaiser wilhelm

Today’s object of the month is an oil painting featuring the steamship Kaiser Wilhelm II in front of the Great Pyramids of Egypt.  I remember when I first came across it as I thought it was such a strange image with the ship completely out of water, but of course that’s how an allegorical painting is supposed to look.  With my interest piqued, I went to check out the file folder to see what the background of this painting was.  To my dismay, there was next to no information in the file and the wrong artist had even been attributed to the painting, despite the fact that there is a clear signature in the bottom left hand corner.

I am a rather curious person by nature, and so not knowing anything about this painting was rather painful.  Taking what little I knew about it, which was basically just the artist, I turned to my best friend for answers, Google.  I soon found out that the artist, Otto Bollhagen, was a well-known painter in Bremen, Germany.  This is where he set up his ‘atelier’, meaning studio.  Underneath ‘Atelier Bollhagen’ on the signature is ‘Bremen’.  The business Otto started in 1892 continues today under the leadership of a great-grandson.   Read more

Immigration – Creating the United States

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As one who works on genealogy in her spare time, I have always (well, since I was a teenager) been interested in immigration.  This is why when I came across two prints showing before and after images of a gentleman who emigrated to the United States, I wanted to share them.  Immigrants are a vital part of our country and who we are, despite how horribly they have often been treated.

I think what I liked most about these two prints is what they imply.  The first, titled “Outward Bound”, shows a man who is clearly poor and fallen upon hard times studying an advertisement for a ship to New York and holding what is most likely his last coin.  The second image shows the same man (at least I assume it’s the same man) cleaned up and well dressed, clearly much better off than he was in Ireland, looking at an advertisement for a ship back to Ireland.   Read more