Saturday, February 16, 2019

A Quiet Day in Utica

"A Quiet Day in Utica"
first titled "Tinning the Dog"

A fabulous piece of history here, which includes a number of recognizable individuals. The most important fellow is head and shoulders above the rest, and the gentleman whose sons commissioned Charlie to paint this piece for their father, Charles Lehman, or as Charlie called him "Charley". His name is on the sign above his business. A total of fourteen individuals are depicted, including Charlie himself, leaning against the rail just to the right of the Tinned Man's ride. Also, three chickens untold horses and one unhappy dog. The large tin, if anyone is curious, was for fish oil.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Sharps 1874 Big .50 Sporting Rifle

I will start with the subject of this piece first. I found this rifle on an auction site with plenty of close-up photographs and provenance. The site is Collectors Firearms, The serial number is pictured in one of the photographs as #C54634, one of three Model 1874 Sporting Rifles in .50 Caliber shipped from the factory in Hartford, Connecticut. The shipping date is listed as April 24, 1875, and was sent to a the sporting goods dealer Spies, Kissam & Company in New York City. The total cost of all three of these rifles, plus bullet molds and shipping crate was $92.94.

I could have chosen a different Sharps, perhaps one of their Buffalo Rifles, but Collectors Firearms supplied plenty of photographs of this one, and I decided to go with this one rather than one that perhaps would have been used here in Montana - because I LIKED IT.

I have used this rifle before.  In 2016, I used it on a piece of billhead for another early Helena merchant, although this time I'm even more confident that I've used a document that has been authenticated. A Montana gentleman who collects anything Sharps has confirmed that Adolph Birkenfeld was indeed a Sharps dealer, and one of the rifles he owns is listed as being shipped to Mr. Birkenfeld in 1874. The business was at 10 South Main, and the business was still at the same location in 1900. The census for that year lists Mr. Birkenfeld as a Capitalist. He was in the right business!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Timber Cruisers

Timber Cruisers

The original painting, entitled "Blazing the Trail", was painted by Phil Goodwin in June of 1905. He sold the image to Outing Magazine, who had a halftone created to be used as the lead for an article on timber cruisers. In 1911, Brown & Bigelow, a major source for advertising art to be used for calendars and cards, purchased the image for use on a calendar.

A photograph of the original oil painting.

The halftone image produced for the article on timber cruisers in Outing Magazine for 1906.

This was not an easy translation. Some of the details were altered in the halftone, and I struggled to make sense of the foreground in the original because of how dark the original had become. I am more than satisfied with the result, although I will wait to hear from my patron.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Quaker Bear

From an image painted by Phil Goodwin in 1907 for the Cream of Wheat Company, for which he was paid the princely sum of $175.

If I'd have been gifted a piece of Cream of Wheat letterhead, I'd have used the original box, but since I was given a piece of Quaker Oats paper, the bear gets to root for the bowl of porridge.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Goin' Dutch on a Motocycle

Having done my fair share of Indian Motocycle paper, this time around I chose a European poster for this piece. 

I took some liberties, but so did the artist that did this.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Diamond R on Helena Hill

The Original Document

I am going to begin with a description of the original document, and an explanation of its nature. It is called a Bill of Lading, and this type of document is still in use today. It serves the purpose of assigning responsibility for cargo being moved from one place to another. This is the third of three Bills for a Bull Train from Fort Benton, M. T., to Fort Shaw, M. T., on May 17th, 1883. The first two Bills would have documented the itemized contents of nine wagons, three wagons being pulled by sixteen to eighteen bull oxen each. They were designated or named as the Lead, the Swing and the Trail wagons.

This third of the three Bills that made up this manifest is self-explanatory, and the handwriting is easily read.
An easy one to decipher is the #5 Lead, Swing and Trail wagon team, which together accounted for twelve thousand fifteen pounds of goods. In pencil, on the right side near the middle of the document is the amount paid for the eighteen wagons, in three wagon teams. #5 Team would have been paid one hundred twenty-three dollars and fifteen cents for its share.

T. C. Power & Brothers contracted the movement of freight to support the government troops at Fort Shaw, and the Indian Trader, J. H. McKnight at the Fort. This document came originally from the collection of Lewis Brackman of Helena, MT. The story of how he came to acquire it is for another day. Sometime after he acquired it, he sold it to Stuart MacKenzie of Chinook, MT. He graciously sold me this paper from his collection because I've been intrigued with early territorial business paper, and he knew what I intended to do with it.

After spending almost five hours removing Scotch tape from the back (all seams and intersections of seams) both horizontal and vertical were so thin I could see through them. Some paper repair was in order and archival paper repair tape (about two feet) kept it together and allowed me to remove ink, both part of the document (lines and columns) and manuscript where it would interfere with the image.

Who was the Wagon Boss?  

The next part of the story involves the title of the painting, and who this gentleman was, or at least could have been. There are some hints in the picture, including the Diamond R on the canvas sheets of the first two wagons, and the Diamond R on the pouch hanging over the saddle horn. Also, hanging over the back of the saddle there appears to be a military jacket with bright buttons.

The possible names that I have and the sources for those names are as follows: The Gilcrease Museum where the original painting resides cites a passage from the book Half Interest in a Silver Dollar: The Saga of Charles E. Conrad. On page 22 "The man in the painting is sitting on his horse as he watches the progress of the wagons up the grade. Art critics believe the man pictured is Ed Trainer, wagon boss for the I. G. Baker Company."

From the CMR Museum Archives: Col #2011.8.3 Box No. Card 6, Frederic G. and Ginger K. Renner Special Collection, Wagon Boss Card No. 2 3429B The Wagon Boss in the painting is"Doc" Freeles of Fort Benton, uncle of Coburn F. Maddox. Originally sold by Nancy Russell to Fletcher Maddox.

The most intriguing name that I found I can attribute to Ken Robison, historian at the Overholser Historical Research Center in Fort Benton. In a two part story for the River Press in 2012, Mr. Robison described a fellow by the name of James W. Brown who was a Civil War veteran, and in part one of the story, his military experiences, including the fact he was wounded three times is outlined. The second part of the story, and the one that I found tells of the most likely subject of the painting, although Charlie could very well have substituted the face of anyone for that of James Brown. The character that was portrayed may have been a combination of gear for the Diamond R, and a subject of Charlie's choice.

James W. Brown came west as a bull whacker in the Summer of 1866, driving a team of oxen and wagon from Nebraska to Salt Lake City. He loaded the wagon with freight for Helena in August, and arrived in Helena in September. Originally working for another business as wagon boss, he engaged with the original Diamond R, owned by John J Roe & Company under the business name Overland Express Company. I'm including an image of a way bill for the Diamond R below.

In 1868, Charles A. Broadwater, E. G. Maclay, Mathew Carroll and George Steele purchased the Overland Express Company, and James W. "Diamond R" Brown became their Wagon Boss. Sometime in 1870, he ceased working for the Overland Express Company and begin a business venture on shares with a fellow by the name of Kipp. He retired in his later years to ranch near Browning, married a Piegan woman and raised a family with her. He died peacefully in 1927.

I have linked to the rather lengthy article written by Mr. Robison, but I will once again link to it so that the full story can be read. James W. "Diamond R" Brown.