Saturday, July 1, 2017

An artisan and a patriot -- a little something for Independence Day -- NOT THE MOVIE

I saw something that I have never seen before on my, I probably shouldn't run again until my broken jaw is fully healed, morning walk.  I swear, I will run again.  You know, once the swelling goes down and my jaw returns to its former home and my formerly perfect teeth have their new caps.  On a side note, I'm switching from boxing to aikido.  I need to unify my life energy........or something.

 Where was I?   

Oh yeah, this morning I saw a roadrunner fly.  Or what passes for flying for a roadrunner.  It smacked into the side of the building 3 times before it got to the roof.  There was a hummingbird hovering a few inches over its head.  Maybe the roadrunner was after the hummingbird's eggs.  Anyway the carnivore was no match for the agile nectar eater who seemed to be daring it to make a move.  I'm pretty sure the hummingbird would have bloodied the roadrunner before it could even spread its pathetic virtually useless wings if it tried anything.  Hummingbirds are fierce and fearless.  

That's the roadrunner who probably sustained a brain injury trying to get to the roof and the hummingbird ready to attack

And now for the awkward segue.  

The United States was a hummingbird once.  Maybe not the United States but the colonies or the colonists.  This fledgling nation was fierce, fearless and agile.  I'm killing it with the bird analogies today.   Or are they metaphors.  Not sure.  I do know that they are not semaphores.  Actually I don't have any idea what any words mean.  I'm just making all this crap up.  Because really a segue is supposed to be a smooth transition. Onward to what passes as my point fearless reader.

Drawn and engraved for the Society of Iconophiles, New York, 1899.

You may have heard of this guy named Paul Revere.  He was a silversmith who apparently practiced dentistry.  Hmmmmm..........probably can't fix my own he was able to identify the nine month old corpse of one of his dental patients from the wire he used to hold his false tooth in.  The guy had died in a battle and was buried on the battlefield. His family wanted him to have a proper burial and a headstone.  Digging up corpses, creepy and yet fascinating.   Revere also made gunpowder.  Eventually he got into iron casting and he opened the first copper mill in North America.  To me he is a testament to the adaptability of the skills of the artisan class in general but specifically in Colonial America.    He did live a really long life which gave him time for all of this.  At this point it doesn't look like I will have that kind of time.  At least not if I continue to accidentally try to kill myself.  For those of you who like Hamilton, Revere was a Federalist.  

This wasn't the guy.  Patrick Carr was killed in the Boston Massacre. Paul Revere did the engraving.  What a talented guy.

Print shows section of newspaper column with illustration of the coffin bearing skull and crossbones and the initials of Patrick Carr, who died from wounds received during the Boston Massacre. Revere, Paul, 1735-1818, engraver

The bloody massacre perpetrated in King Street Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Regt. Boston : Engrav'd Printed & Sold by Paul Revere, 1770.   A sensationalized portrayal of the skirmish, later to become known as the "Boston Massacre," between British soldiers and citizens of Boston on March 5, 1770. On the right a group of seven uniformed soldiers, on the signal of an officer, fire into a crowd of civilians at left. Three of the latter lie bleeding on the ground. Two other casualties have been lifted by the crowd. In the foreground is a dog; in the background are a row of houses, the First Church, and the Town House. Behind the British troops is another row of buildings including the Royal Custom House, which bears the sign (perhaps a sardonic comment) "Butcher's Hall." Beneath the print are 18 lines of verse, which begin: "Unhappy Boston! see thy Sons deplore, Thy hallowed Walks besmeared with guiltless Gore." Also listed are the "unhappy Sufferers" Saml Gray, Saml Maverick, James Caldwell, Crispus Attucks, and Patrick Carr (killed) and it is noted that there were "Six wounded; two of them (Christr Monk & John Clark) Mortally." The print was copied by Revere from a design by Henry Pelham for an engraving eventually published under the title "The Fruits of Arbitrary Power, or the Bloody Massacre," of which only two impressions could be located by Brigham. Revere's print appeared on or about March 28, 1770.

Paul Revere kind of amazes me.  He really filled his life.  He had something like 16 kids.  Who can participate in a revolution, run a silversmith business, create a gunpowder manufacturing facility because there was a need, create mass produced silverware with the use of a rolling mill , learn to cast iron and then bronze, and then use the rolling mill to mill copper?  Probably didn't even know his kids names. 

I do think it's fascinating that a guy who was depicted riding a horse and ringing a tiny little bell ended up casting giant iron and bronze bells.  This isn't one of them, but I couldn't find a picture of one. Seemed appropriate though.

The bell's first note....Woman with hammer alongside the Liberty Bell, in foundry. 
Repro. of painting by Jean Léon Gérom̂e Ferris.
-  This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.

Paul Revere never said "The British are coming"

The artisan class in colonial America was incredibly resourceful.  Not all were as successful as Mr. Revere, but they had limited technology and resources compared to manufacturers today. Even compared to the available technology in Europe at the same time in history.  They probably never had to say that their goods were handmade.  That was assumed.

Illus. in: Gleason's Pictorial, v. 6, (1854), p. 360.
-  This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.
-  Caption card tracings: United States History; Connecticut; Foundries; Shelf.
I realize I am jumping around in history and maybe someday I will bring all of this together to make some sort of point, but for now I am just sharing the discovery process. 

One last thing.  This is a poster from 1917 for something called Wake Up America Day.  It uses a portrayal of Paul Revere to recruit for military enlistment during World War I.

Wake up America Day - April 19, 1917 / James Montgomery Flagg.
Poster showing a woman, possibly Jean Earl Moehle (Möhle), dressed as Paul Revere carrying lantern and American flag. Moehle reenacted Paul Revere's ride for the Wake Up America Patriot's Day celebration in New York City. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2015 and The New York Times, April 19, 1917)
Flagg, James Montgomery, 1877-1960, artist
Enjoy your 4th of July and remember history has lessons and we need to study it and contemplate it to see if we can figure out what it can teach us.  Follow the threads.  Don't get duped by the present.

Back to work