Society of Iconophiles Print Collection
Language of Materials
Collection of prints, mostly New York scenes, issued by the Society of Iconophiles.
The Society of Iconophiles was formed in 1894 by William Loring Andrews (1837-1920), a member of the Grolier Club. Its stated purpose was to issue series of engraved views of New York City and portraits of prominent persons connected with New York City. Each series of engravings was issued in an edition of 101. Eleven of these were proofs before letter, which were signed by the engraver. The plates were destroyed after this first printing. The Society initially limited itself to ten members, each of whom was to receive one of these signed proofs. The other 90 prints were sold to the public. In 1905, the Society of Iconophiles enlarged its circle by creating fifty Associate Members, who subscribed to the upcoming print series. The initial group of ten became known as the Active Members. During its tenure, the Society produced seventeen discrete series of prints, other assorted prints, and several volumes. The Society of Iconophiles ceased to exist in 1939.
Organized in sixteen series, after the series of prints published by the Society of Iconophiles.
- Series I. Twelve Engravings by Edwin D. French
- Series II. Twelve Lithographs by C. F. W. Mielatz
- Series III. Six Portraits Engraved by Francis S. King
- Series IV. Six Portraits, with Views, Engraved by Francis S. King
- Series V. Ten Facsimiles of Early Engraved Views Reengraved by Sidney L. Smith
- Series VI. Two Portraits Engraved by Francis S. King
- Series VII. Eight Aquatints by C.F.W. Mielatz
- Series VIII. Twelve Lithographs by Joseph Pennell
- Series IX. Twelve Engravings by W. M. Aikman, Frances S. King, and Sidney L. Smith
- Series X. Picturesque New York: Twelve Photogravures from Monotypes by C. F. W. Mielatz
- Series XI. Six Etchings, from Photographs, by Sidney L. Smith
- Series XII. One Mezzotint by S. Arlent Edwards
- Series XIII. Three Engravings of Statues by Francis S. King
- Series XIV. Six Engravings by W. M. Aikman and Sidney L. Smith
- Series XV. Eight Engravings by W. M. Aikman and Sidney L. Smith
- Series XVI. Two Engravings Printed in Colors by Charles Furth
Scope and Content Note
The Society of Iconophiles Print Collection spans the period from 1895 to 1929 and contains an almost complete set of the prints issued by the Society during its existence. Many duplicate prints and some explanatory material are included. The collection includes engravings (including aquatint and mezzotint), etchings, lithographs, and photogravures. The collection is divided into sixteen series after the Society's published print series: Twelve Engravings by Edwin D. French; Twelve Lithographs by C. F. W. Mielatz; Six Portraits Engraved by Francis S. King; Six Portraits, with Views, Engraved by Francis S. King; Ten Facsimiles of Early Engraved Views Reengraved by Sidney L. Smith; Two Portraits Engraved by Francis S. King; Eight Aquatints by C.F.W. Mielatz; Twelve Lithographs by Joseph Pennell; Twelve Engravings by W. M. Aikman, Frances S. King, and Sidney L. Smith; Picturesque New York: Twelve Photogravures from Monotypes by C. F. W. Mielatz; Six Etchings, from Photographs, by Sidney L. Smith; One Mezzotint by S. Arlent Edwards; Three Engravings of Statues by Francis S. King; Six Engravings by W. M. Aikman and Sidney L. Smith; Eight Engravings by W. M. Aikman and Sidney L. Smith; and Two Engravings Printed in Colors by Charles Furth.
The subjects shown in the prints follow the Society's stated purpose: all are views of New York City or portraits of New Yorkers. Early views of New York, either reengravings or prints after oil paintings, abound. These generally show important early New York landmarks or buildings, such as the Morris-Jumel House, City Hall, Fraunces Tavern, the Tontine Coffee House, St. Paul's Chapel and other churches, and the Battery. Waterfront scenes and buildings, as well as views of the cityscape from Brooklyn and New Jersey, are common. Contemporary scenes of New York show some of these same buildings, as well as those more recently built. Views of lower Manhattan prevail, although a few early twentieth century views show Union Square, Times Square, and several points in between.
Portraits include early American engravers, such as Alexander Anderson and Paul Revere; politicians and military leaders like DeWitt Clinton, George Washington, William Tecumseh Sherman, and General Lafayette; and poets Fitz-Greene Halleck and Joseph Rodman Drake.
Artists commissioned by the Society of Iconophiles were Edwin Davis French and Sidney L. Smith, bookplate artists who were favorites of the Grolier Club members; printmakers Francis Scott King, Charles Frederick William Mielatz, and Walter M. Aikman; and the celebrated lithographer and illustrator Joseph Pennell.
Series titles were taken from A List of Engravings Issued by the Society of Iconophiles, 1895-1925 . This and several other catalogs can be found in the front of Box 1. Prospectus about the launch of a new series or a specific print from a series are filed at the end of each series' prints. Print titles and dates were transcribed from the letterpress-printed wrappers issued to hold each set of prints.
Some series contain prints made from cancelled plates or proofs from the series; as described above, these proofs were issued only to the ten Active Members of the Society. Almost all prints are enclosed in individual folders or are foldered together by series. Provenance information is generally listed in pencil on the verso or the bottom right corner of each print. Prints are listed individually in the box listing, with notation as to the number of copies held; no notation indicates one copy. Several prints from a few series were lacking at the time of cataloging; these prints may not have ever been held by the New-York Historical Society, but are listed in brackets in the box listing in order to show a complete series list.
Open to qualified researchers. 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, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Society of Iconophiles Print Collection, PR 160, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.
Some prints were purchased as they were issued. Others are from a variety of donors. Many prints were given to the Society as part of the Hall Park McCullough estate gift, 1971.
Catalogue of the Engravings issued by the Society of Iconophiles of the City of New York (1908) is in the New-York Historical Society's Library.