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Lot # 213: Currier & Ives Prints - "A Foul Tip" and "A Base Hit"

Starting Bid: $100.00

Bids: 1 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "2024 Winter Pop-Up",
which ran from 1/14/2024 7:00 PM to
1/28/2024 10:00 PM

Nathaniel Currier founded a lithography company, under his name, in New York City in 1835, and later added his brother Charles and the brother-in-law of Charles, James Ives, to the company, which then became Currier and Ives. The company's prints allowed Americans to inexpensively add artwork to their homes, and Currier and Ives became an iconic organization. Displayed is a set of baseball-themed Currier and Ives colored prints that are part of the Darktown set of lithographs, prints which display racial stereotypes of African Americans. Even the name "Darktown" has a racial sting to it. In one of the included prints, A Foul Ball, four players angrily confront the umpire, and the three players whose faces can be seen all have exaggerated lips, as does the umpire, and these exaggerated features become, to today's eyes, evidence of a shocking racial stereotype. The other offered print is titled A Base Hit. This lithograph also depicts only African Americans. In this print, three outfielders dive for a ball that has just hit a portly spectator in the stomach. One outfielder is depicted as losing his shoe, exposing a sock with holes in it. Facial features of the players, such as their lips, are exaggerated, and the players' eyes bulge. In a more subtle putdown of the players, none of the pants of the outfielders matches any other. Copies of these same prints were displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in an effort to educate the general public and art aficionados to the offensive racial content of the artwork. Each of the included prints measures 13x17.3", including borders. Typed near the bottom of each print: "Currier & Ives/Copyright 1882 by Currier & Ives, N.Y./115 Nassau St. N.Y." Each of the lithographs has small areas of paper loss along the margins, and the A Foul Ball print has a larger one-inch-long section of paper loss along the margin, and the A Base Hit print has a tear along the bottom of about 1.5". Both of the prints show toning. The chief importance of these prints is in illustrating the racial stereotypes that were being displayed, with the surface jocularity of the prints evincing to modern eyes the menace of racial stereotypes that is apparent to an enlightened viewer.

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