The John A. McAllister Collection: Graphics

Recto and verso of The Sailor Boy. (New York: Published by T.W. Strong, no. 98 Nassau St., c1864). Chromolithograph.

Over 9,000 visual materials compiled by father and son antiquarians John McAllister Jr. and John A. McAllister comprise the McAllister Graphics Collection administered by the Print and Photograph Department. The collection contains photographs, prints, maps, textiles, scrapbooks and watercolors and drawings. The material, which dates from the mid-eighteenth to late nineteenth century, predominately includes prints and early photography documenting Philadelphia; Civil War photographs, prints, and ephemera; regional maps; political cartoons; and portraiture. The majority of the graphics collection is described as items on the searchable online catalog, Koha, with the remaining material described as series or collections. Several of the collection-level records describe collections of Civil War related graphics including Civil War stationery, Civil War photographs, and the Civil War envelope collection. In addition, the Graphics and Envelopes collections have finding aids which further describe their provenance and contents. A sampling of the McAllister Graphics Collection can also be searched on the library’s Islandora digital asset repository. Digital files of representative graphics from the collection, enhanced by collection summaries, item descriptions, and links to corresponding on-line resources, are contained in the database.

The McAllister Graphics Collection includes the work of near a dozen early Philadelphia photographers that documents the city between 1844 and circa 1870. Daguerreotypes, paper photographs, stereographs, and cartes de visite, by pioneer photographers such as the Langenheims, Frederick De Bourg Richards, and James McClees, form the core of the early photograph collections within the department. Work by the Langenheims includes the “first news photograph” of Philadelphia , a daguerreotype of Girard Bank during the Nativist Riots of 1844, and photographs issued circa 1855-circa 1862 that show business interiors, panoramic views of the city, Fairmount Park, and scenes along the Delaware Riverfront.

Malachy's Church, 1429 North 11th Street, Philadelphia.(Philadelphia: McAllister & Brother, December 25, 1860). Albumen on stereograph mount.

Views of the changing architectural landscape of the city photographed by Frederick De Bourg Richards and James McClees in the 1850s represent some of the earliest paper photographs of Philadelphia that are administered by the department. Their work is complemented by later city views photographed circa 1860-circa 1870 by John Moran, Robert Newell, Henry Odiorne and Montgomery Simons. These aforementioned photographs show city businesses, residences, hotels, theaters, historic landmarks, public buildings, markets, churches, street scenes, and landscape views of the Wissahickon. The State House (Independence Hall), blocks of Chestnut Street, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Fairmount Water Works, and Germantown are well illustrated in these images.

Some of the oldest photographic views of Philadelphia church exteriors and interiors represent another noteworthy segment of photographs in the McAllister Graphics Collection. Issued as stereographs circa 1860-circa 1863 by McAllister & Brother, the photographs provide images of such prominent religious structures as Christ Church, St. Peter’s Church, Gloria Dei, and St. Mark’s Church. Other stereographs included in the McAllister Graphics Collection are views of Chestnut Street published by Bartlett & French and Bartlett & Smith; views of Lincoln’s funeral and hometown photographed by Schreiber & Glover; and interiors of the Union League.

W. & F. Langenheim. Interior view of McAllister & Brother's Opticians' Shop, 194 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, ca. 1855. Albumen print.

Cartes-de-visite portraits, several of religious leaders, military figures, and politicians, also form a significant portion of the photographs. In addition, a large number of cartes de visite comprise the McAllister Family Portrait Collection. The collection contains images of John McAllister Sr., John Jr., and John A. as well as the men’s children, siblings, wives and extended family. Several of the McAllister family cartes-de-visite portraits were published circa 1860s by McAllister & Brother.

Published prints including engravings, lithographs, and relief prints form another large segment of the McAllister Graphics Collection. Nineteenth-century business advertisements, portraiture, political cartoons, cityscape and landscape views, predominately published in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and London, constitute the majority of the prints. A substantial portion visually documents Philadelphia. Near a hundred are illustrations clipped from guidebooks, city directories, and periodicals showing city businesses, industries, churches, benevolent and educational institutions, and public buildings.

The 1856 prospectus for and plates from the 1859 “Baxter’s Panoramic Business Directory of Philadelphia” provides another interesting example of views of Philadelphia included in the collection. Published by engraver Dewitt C. Baxter the prints show storefronts on blocks of Chestnut, Third, and Market streets complemented by advertisements for the depicted businesses. In addition, reprints from original plates of William Birch’s “Views of Philadelphia” and “County Seats” published in 1860 by John A.’s father, John McAllister Jr., showcases the collector’s reverence for local history.

Frederick De Bourg Richards, Library Street, Southside, between Goldsmith's Hall and Fourth Street, ca. 1859. Salted paper print.

The McAllisters also collected prints with a national content, including portraits, political cartoons, and clipped illustrations. Portrait prints depict historic figures, prominent businessmen, celebrities, renowned physicians and scientists, and other individuals of note. The subject matter of the political cartoons focuses particularly on presidential elections, the Bank Wars during the Jackson Administration (1828-1836), and the Civil War. The clipped book and periodical illustrations depict historic sites, prominent landmarks, street scenes, and landscape views in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Many of these prints were removed from Charles Dana’s The United States Illustrated; in Views of City and Country... (New York: Hermann J. Meyer, 1853) and John Howard Hinton’s The History and Topography of the United States (London: I.T. Hinton, & Simpkin & Marshall, 1830-1832).

The McAllister Graphics Collection also contains about 100 eighteenth and nineteenth-century maps. The maps primarily document Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, in addition to North America, including specific U.S. states and Canada. Street, ward, property, and railroad route maps comprise the majority of the content of the cartography. Other subjects include navigational charts; plans of the 1864 Philadelphia Sanitary Fair and 1893 World Columbian Exposition; Benjamin Franklin’s chart of the Gulf Stream; and several Civil War campaign and battle maps. Another map of note within the collection is the circa 1833 “Map of the West Coast of Africa, from Sierra Leone to Cape Palmas, including the Colony of Liberia. Complied chiefly from the surveys and observations of the late Revd. J. Ashman [sic]” showing the free black emigrant colony founded after 1822 by Ashmun, a member of the American Colonization Society.

Morris H. Traubel, Cooper Shop Volunteer Refreshment Saloon, the First Opened for Union Volunteers in the United States. 1009 Otsego St. Philadelphia. (Philadelphia : Chromolithography of M. H. Traubel, 409 Chestnut St., 1862). Copyrighted by Wm. M. Cooper, C.V. Fort & Co., (i.e., Cooper Shop Volunteer Refreshment Saloon Committee). Chromolithograph.

A large number of items in the McAllister Graphics Collection reflect the collecting efforts of John A. McAllister during the Civil War. The Civil War graphics include prints and photographs of camps, forts and battlefields; political cartoons; portraiture; certificates; architectural and engineering plans; textiles and ephemera. A large segment of the prints are lithographic views of camps and battle scenes, with over 100 printed by the Philadelphia printer L.N. Rosenthal and New York firm Currier & Ives as well as a small number printed on textiles by Boston Chemical Printing Company.

Also significant is the Civil War ephe mera, which includes envelopes, stationery, and paper novelties such as toy soldiers. The Civil War Envelope and Stationery collections contain over 7,000 items illustrated with patriotic designs and slogans. The designs depict portraits of historic and prominent military figures, military scenes, state seals, cartoons, Liberty, A merican eagles, flags, and other military and patriotic emblems. Several envelopes by prolific publishers King & Baird and Charles Magnus are included in this collection. A smaller ephe mera collection is the Civil War paper soldiers. The paper toys, a small number published by McLoughlin Bros. and G. Heerbrandt, depict soldiers from over a dozen different New York regi ments and are shown with guns, riding on horseback, and in the charge of battle.

The Gallant Charge of the Fifty Fourth Massachusetts (Colored) Regiment: On the Rebel Works at Fort Wagner, Morris Island near Charleston, July 18th 1863, and death of Colonel Robt. G. Shaw. (New York: Published by Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St.,1863). Hand-colored lithograph.

Over 70 watercolor drawings, cartes de visite, and collecting cards showing the work of illustrator Henry Louis Stephens form another interesting niche of the Civil War material. The graphics evoke sentimentality, patriotism, and humor in the portrayal of the transformation of a slave to a soldier; the conscription of an anthropomorphic rabbit; the dynamics of international relations between the Union, Confederacy, Mexico and Europe; and caricatures of Abraham Lincoln and George McClellan during the 1864 presidential election. Other collecting cards in the McAllister Graphics Collection include a series satirizing camp life published in 1864 by Boston lithographer L. Prang after the work of Winslow Homer. Additional Civil War prints include a birds-eye view of the buildings of the 1864 Great Central Fair for the U.S. Sanitary Commission in Logan Square, views of volunteer hospitals and refreshment saloons, certificates for military service, John Rhiza’s circa 1862 engineering plans for Union Civil War fortifications at the Battle of Stones River, and John McArthur’s architectural drawings for Mower General Hospital built in Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia in 1862.

The Civil War photographs primarily contain stereograph and cartes-de-visite series issued by the prominent Civil War photographers Mathew Brady, Barnard & Gibson, Alexander Gardner, and Levy & Cohen. The over 150 views principally depict the aftermath of Union campaigns in the South, including the fall of Richmond. Other significant series of Civil War-era photographs include images photographed by A. Watson of the Great Central Fair in Philadelphia, and interior views of the Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon taken by Robert Newell. Cartes-de-visite caricatures satirizing military figures, battles, the home front, camp life, the Confederacy and African Americans are also a significant portion of the Civil War photographs. Three scrapbooks of Civil War envelopes and portrait prints and photographs of prominent military and political figures comprise the Civil War material in the McAllister Graphics Collection as well.

The McAllister Graphics Collection also contains the “European Views” and “Costume” scrapbooks. The former contains printed views and photographs of Europe that show city, land and seascapes of European countries including, England, France, Germany, and Italy. The latter contains nineteenth-century fashion plates and prints, dozens removed from R. Ackerman’s Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufacturers, Fashions and Politics, of American and English costume.

DeWitt Clinton Baxter, Chestnut Street from Eighth to Seventh, (North Side). (Philadelphia: Published by D. W. C. Baxter & Co.,1859, c1857). King & Baird, printers, Sansom Street, Philadelphia, Pa. Color wood engraving with letterpress.