Nathaniel Currier

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Nathaniel Currier, famous for the Currier and Ives lithographs during the Civil War and late 1800s, was born on March 27, 1813. At the age of 15, he took an apprenticeship at a Boston lithography shop owned by William and John Pendleton. He quickly learned the art of lithography, which involved grinding a slab of limestone smooth, then drawing a mirror image on it with a special grease pencil. The stone, prepared by ink rollers and water, was used to impress images on paper. In 1883, the 20-year-old Currier moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to do contract work as an engraver and printer. He eventually moved to New York, where he worked again for John Pendleton. Currier later bought a shop from a local printer and specialized in “per job” printing of music manuscripts, but left to start a new shop on Wall Street, called N. Currier, Lithography. At the time, newspapers did not print pictures, but in 1833, he produced a widely accepted picture of a big news event. Its success launched his national career and, after meeting James Merritt Ives, they launched another successful company called Currier & Ives, which produced more than 7,500 different titles and one million prints between 1835 and 1907. In 1880, Currier decided to retire. He died eight years later on November 20, 1888.

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