Monday, July 16, 2012

All of the Navy, All in One Place-1898 Print

This is an 1898 lithograph depicting the ships of the U.S. Navy at the time of the Spanish-American War.  Sketched by Herbert Packard and published by C.A. Musselman, the printer simply titled it United States Navy, 1898.  At the time Packard produced the original sketch, the Navy was undergoing a major transformation from a coastal force of ironclads to a steel-hulled fleet with a global reach.  With this drawing, he demonstrates this transformation of the fleet in one drawing. In front, are the new steel hulled battleships such USS Iowa (BB-4) and Kearsarge (BB-5) and the submarine USS Holland.  Towards the back are the Civil War monitors USS Passiac and Montauk .  Little ships such as the tug USS Sioux are also included.  The print is currently on display in the museum's Steel Navy gallery.

For many years, Packard was a partner of the Philadelphia-based print and mapmaker known as Packard & Butler.   This particular print of U.S. Naval warships was a break from Packard's usual work, as the firm spent much of their time producing Christian-themed illustrations.  Exterior and interior views of Roman Catholic churches were a particular favorite.     It also produced full colored advertisements.  As the firm disbanded in 1893, Packard seems to have produced this print on his own and handed over printing and marketing to C.A. Musselman, also of Philadelphia.  Musselman later became a founding partner of the Chilton Company,  a leading publisher of "Do-it-Yourself" automobile guides.

While Packard was nominally a very serious artist, some of his work showed that he had a biting sense of humor.  He contributed illustrations to the publication of a Cracked/National Lampoon-type humor group known as the "Second Presbyterian Fishing Club of Philadelphia." Some of the editions Packard provided illustrations for were entitled The Log of the Second Annual Cruise of the Second Presbyterian Fishing Club of Philadelphia and The Log of the Fourteenth Annual Cruise of the Second Presbyterian Fishing Club of Philadelphia.  The Log of the second cruise describes the fictional adventures (many of which include a large consumption of alcohol and loud parties) of the fishing vessel Kelso over a period of two weeks in 1886.

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