Book Report: Currier & Ives’ America by edited by Colin Simkin (?)

I bought this book at the Kirkwood book fair some years back, and I started looking through it a couple baseball seasons ago. It’s definitely a flip-through kind of book, as it includes a short history of Currier and Ives and the market for illustration in the nineteenth century. Each chapter, if you will, then takes on a series from the Currier and Ives line and presents four pictures from it in full color and full page. Of course, if you’re familiar with the Christmas song, you know how the company’s prints impacted how the nineteenth century Americans viewed themselves and their countrymen and, even more importantly, impacted the nostalgia of the time. Think of it as the equivalent of their Thomas Kinkade, except instead of purposefully painting nostalgic historic scenes, they created images that were contemporary, but warmly evocative, that became nostalgic as time went on.

I like the pictures and would consider collecting the company’s prints, but I’m not as DINK as I once was, so I’ll have to watch for the foldered quarter folio prints at garage sales. I’m also considering scanning some of them to use elements within for some of my woodburning projects.

And as a final note, the book includes some of the Currier and Ives hidden animal prints, wherein the artists hid animals in the background of a picture, and the viewer could look at them to find the animals, kind of like a puzzle. I remembered when I saw these prints in the book that I had had a book of these as a child, no doubt a gift from my Nana who worked at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I don’t have those books any more, and I kind of miss them.

At any rate, worth a look if you’re into Americana or art. Also, prepare yourself for a couple of art books to come along hereabouts as I look for flipping books I can look at while I watch football games. I think my Man Points maintain status quo if I watch football while flipping through artsy books. The craft books, though, continually drain the Man Points.

Books mentioned in this review: