"America's Great Fires" Lithograph, ca. 1905
When I was 16, I was in the basement with my mother, and discovered this. She had had it hanging behind some other things. And she told me that it came from my grandparents' house, that the frame is plastered, and that it was originally gold colored. But because it was so brilliant, my grandparents took stove blackening and blackened the frame. And that's all I know about it.
That was the end of the gold frame.
Yes, that was the end of the gold frame.
It's a color lithograph from 1904 showing great American fires. The center fire happens to be Baltimore, where I'm from, so I've actually owned one of these one time years ago. But I've only seen one in the last 30 years of buying and selling old prints. So it's quite a scarce item. It's got all the other fires going around with lists of the number of people who died and the dollar amount of what was lost. And the Baltimore fire has the largest dollar amount lost. One way I know it's 1904, not any later, is they have the San Francisco fire of 1857, which is another way to date it, because they're talking about that fire rather than the 1906 fire, which hasn't happened yet. So that way I know it's 1904 or 1905. This is the Chicago fire from 1871. Some of the titles are sort of worn off on these.
I love some of the little details in it. You've got the black drapery, in mourning, and then the crossed axes. It doesn't have an artist. The last one I had years ago, I don't remember seeing a printer's name on it either. It's not what's called a fine art print, but to me, it's just a great example of Americana. You do have condition problems.
There's tears here, there's a loss here. You've got roughness in some of the other edges. But condition on this kind of thing is in relation to rarity. If it's really rare, condition's less of a factor. It doesn't help, but it's not going to hurt it as much as if it's a common print. I would say a retail value price on it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,200 to $1,500, about $1,200 to $1,500.
I'm amazed. Wow. Thank you.
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