1868 Currier & Ives Lithograph, “High Water in the Mississippi”

Value (2005) | $15,000 Retail$18,000 Retail

GUEST:
It was in my husband's family. They had a barge and riverboat company in the '40s, and there's a whole set of pictures that were in the captain's quarters on the boat, and the company went bankrupt, I think in the '60s, and all the stuff was taken off the boat. My husband ended up with this, along with four other pictures smaller than this.

APPRAISER:
And what was the subject of the smaller ones?

GUEST:
Uh, riverboats and Mississippi scenes.

APPRAISER:
Yeah. Were they also by Currier & Ives?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Well, the print is called "High Water in the Mississippi," and this was published as a companion piece to another called "Low Water in the Mississippi." Here's a typical Southern house with big porches. Would've been on the banks of the river. Here's people floating on their house, and, you know, people lived near the river, because that's where commerce was going on, this is where trade was going on. I had grandparents that lived on the Ohio River, and they kind of expected... they lived with being flooded every spring. Well, the first thing I did with this when I examined it was to make sure that it was a genuine Currier & Ives, because there's a lot of reproductions around. Many reproductions were done, especially in the 1920s, when prints were so very appreciated. And they did reproductions by a different printing process, so if you look at this with a loupe, you can see that it is a genuine Currier & Ives. It's stone lithography.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
It's colored by hand with watercolors.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And here we are in 1868, according to the copyright date. The Stonewall Jackson is sailing up the Mississippi River at high water. And when you evaluate a ship print, one of the most important kinds of rules of thumb is to look at the kinds of details on the deck and the details on the rigging. This one, of course, you can see the cables holding up the smokestacks, and you can actually make out individual people on the deck and little pieces of cargo and things like that. All of this is... is beautifully done, and what's very important about this is that it's one of the large-folio prints, and down here you have the credit for Frances Palmer, who was a lady who worked for Currier & Ives. She was a British immigrant, and she had her own printing and art studio, but Currier & Ives recognized her talents and they hired her. Now, another interesting thing is "J.M.I." is seen as the delineator, and this is James Merritt Ives, who is the "Ives" of Currier & Ives. Not many have credits to him. So... Fanny Palmer must have done the... the artwork, but James Merritt Ives was involved in the lithography so deeply that he got his initials on this particular bit, and that's quite unusual. So this is a really fine and collectible Currier & Ives print. If this was in my shop, I would put a value of between $15,000 and $18,000 on it.

GUEST:
Wow. Wow.

APPRAISER:
It's really... Yeah.

GUEST:
That's great.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, it's a... it's a real classic. It needs cleaning, so I would lean towards $15,000, because of condition.

GUEST:
Wow. That's great.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
The Philadelphia Print Shop
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Appraised value (2005)
$15,000 Retail$18,000 Retail
Event
Houston, TX (July 16, 2005)
Period
19th Century
Material
Paper

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