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James Boyd collection of New York City etchings

Call Number

PR 7


1861-1940, undated (bulk, 1910-1939), inclusive


Boyd, James, 1864-1947


8.58 Linear feet (7 boxes, 508 prints)

Language of Materials

This collection is primarily visual. Any text is likely to be in English.


Collection of etchings by New York City artists depicting the city. Subjects include major skyscrapers and other buildings, street scenes, neighborhoods, harbors, bridges, and views from high vantage points.

Biographical Note

James Boyd was born in 1864 into a family of Manhattan candle makers; he was the fourth generation to work in the business. Boyd received his early education at Chapin Collegiate School, graduating from the University of the City of New York (New York University) in 1882. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy by Washington College in Tennessee. From 1882 to 1891, Boyd assisted his father in the family business. The firm, established as James Boyd in 1819, became James Boyd's Sons, James Boyd's Son, and finally James Boyd once again. In 1925, Boyd dissolved the firm due to sluggish sales. In 1890, Boyd became a member of the New York Produce Exchange. Other affiliations included a fellowship in the New-York Historical Society and membership in the University Club. He served on the Council of New York University and He served for many years as treasurer of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen. James Boyd died at age 83 on February 13, 1947. Agnes Gray Boyd, his wife, died on January 16, 1935.


The collection is arranged into the following series: Series I. New York City EtchingsOversize Material from Series ISeries II. Accompanying material

Scope and Contents

In 1935, James Boyd presented to the Society 460 prints (primarily, but not all, etchings) by 61 artists (primarily, but not all, American), given in memory of his wife. He added to the collection through 1944, bringing the total to 508 items. The prints are now arranged by artist, and thereunder by the "Boyd number" (from 1 to 508) in the order in which they were accessioned. The Boyd numbers appear in parentheses following the title of the print.

The prints depict the towering city of the decades between 1910 and 1935: the Empire State Building and other major skyscrapers, the Wall Street area and other street scenes, various Manhattan neighborhoods and churches, the New York harbor, East River bridges, the George Washington Bridge, and views from high vantage points. What sets this corpus of late-nineteenth-century/early-modern prints apart is its inclusion of "second tier" artists, whose work adds to the spectrum of printmaking in New York during the first half of the twentieth century.

Artists well represented in the original gift include Anton Schutz (121); William C. McNulty (35); and Edith Nankivell (31). Artists with more than one print include John Taylor Arms, G. L. Briem, Kerr Eby, William Ferrari, Jack Fischer, Paul Geissler, William Heyer, F. Leo Hunter, Nat Lowell, Charles W. Mielatz, H. Loren Mills, Fugi Nakamizo, B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Joseph Pennell, Will J. Quinlan, Ernest D. Roth, Louis Schmidt, Paul Simonsen, John Sloan, Bernhardt Wall, W. H. Wallace, and Elisha K. K. Wetherill.

The collection also includes material from Boyd's own files: two letters (1927, 1928) from French print dealer Louis Godefroy to Boyd; New York (1927-33) and Paris (1927-31) print exhibition catalogs; four art periodicals (1899-1929); and one photograph (1933) of artist William McNulty in his studio.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: James Boyd Collection of New York City Etchings, PR 7, Dept. of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of James Boyd in 1935 through 1944, in memory of his wife, Agnes Gray Boyd.

Related Materials

Additional prints of New York City scenes by Boyd Collection artists (and other artists) can be found in PR 229 Fine Art Prints of New York City, and PR 035 Herman Lieberman Jr. Collection of Wall Street Prints. One watercolor that came with the Boyd etchings, "The Narrowest House in New York City - 75 1/2 Bedford Street," by Syd Browne (Boyd no. 486), was transferred to the N-YHS museum collection in 2004.

Collection processed by

Valerie S. Komor, Janet Koszalka, and Sandra Markham

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:47:49 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from boyd.xml


New-York Historical Society
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