James Boyd collection of New York City etchings
Language of Materials
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.
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.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
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, email@example.com. 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: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
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
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of James Boyd in 1935 through 1944, in memory of his wife, Agnes Gray Boyd.