U.S. Springfield Model 1863 Type I Rifle Musket

By Joseph Rochez

This gun was primarily used in the United States Civil War by the Union to fight against Confederate armies. This rifle musket was manufactured at the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Springfield Armory – now part of the National Park Service – has massive historic value, as it was used to supply firearms to the US military from 1777 until its closing in 1968. Following the American Revolution, there was a decline in military use. Henry Knox, the Secretary of State at the time, established the armory as a weapons development and storage facility due to a surplus of metal, lumber, and oil.

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The Springfield Model 1863 rifle musket was produced to fight the US Civil War. There were two variants. This gun differs from its model II as the barrel bands are sealed by screws rather than springs. The Springfield 1863 Model I was one of the first rifle-muskets to be built. Production of rifle-muskets began in 1855 and continued throughout the Civil War. Because there were more screws on the rifle rather than springs and nuts, it would have had less recoil when shot, which meant a faster shot and more accurate shot than muskets manufactured earlier in the century. Although this gun has a more accurate shot, this was still a close range type of gun, where the shooter would have to get within a 50-100 meters of their target.

The butt of the gun has a hand carving of a clover. The clover implies that the soldier who owned the gun originally was a part of the Union army 2nd Corps, the regiment of the Union army which was in service the longest and sustained the greatest casualties in the war of the 100 regiments.

The 2nd Corps was in service from 1862 to 1865 and fought in famous battles such as Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Farmville. The casualties in this regiment suffered almost 2,000 men lost in action throughout its three years in action. The soldier who owned this gun must have seen unprecedented violence on a daily basis where he might have lost a brother, cousin, or close friend. One can only wonder how personal fighting in the Civil War must have been. The casualties suffered in this war overall was staggering: in all the wars the United States have fought, the civil war was known as the bloodiest war in American history and suffered the greatest percentage of men lost on the field. This is a time in history which cannot be forgotten.

Every soldier has a story to tell such as the soldier who held this gun.

Sources:

Model 1863 Percussion Rifle-Musket Type 1.” Fine Military Americana. Horse Soldier: Gettysburg, PA. Web. September 2016.

Springfield Armory U.S. 1863.” Rock Island Auction Company. Rock Island, IL. Web. September 2016.

U.S. Springfield Model 1863 Type II Rifle Musket.” NRA Museums. The National Rifle Association of America: Fairfax, VA. Web. September 2016.

Hickok45. “1863 Springfield Civil War Rifle (Original).” Online video clip. YouTube: 21 September 2014. Web. September 2016.

Union Army 2nd Corps from Fox’s Regimental Losses Chapter VIII.” Shotgun’s Home of the American Civil War. CivilWarTalk Network. 23 February 2002. Web. September 2016.

 

Meet Andrew McCord

By Carly Benedict

This week’s object is an intriguing little portrait of New York congressman Andrew McCord. Not much is known about this specific piece, but it still tells us a lot about artistic practices and tastes in the early years of America’s history. It’s also extremely interesting too look at and study visually as well!

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What we do know is that this portrait was created using etched gold leaf under glass with a black paper board as the background. We also know who made this piece, as the name A.B. Doolittle is signed on a bottom border. McCord’s name is written under the portrait and next to it is written the year 1778. This is most likely not the year in which the portrait was made, seeing as Doolittle was active in his craft during the early 1800’s. More likely, this year is referencing a time in which McCord was active in his career, or perhaps this portrait is based off of another portrait created that year.

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Andrew McCord is not very well known today, but he was very active in the New York government during the American Revolution and in the years after as well. He was a local man, born in the area that is now Stony Ford in the Wallkill Township of Orange County, New York. In 1775 he was a delegate to a convention in New Paltz that was held to choose men from the area to serve as delegates to the Second Provincial Congress of New York. During the Revolution, many colonies set up their own provincial congresses as a pro-American alternative to the more loyalist assemblies. New York’s first congress was assembled in April of 1775 and the second was assembled in December of the same year. In addition to helping decide who would represent the local area at the second congress, McCord also served as Quarterman, later Captain, of the Ulster County militia. He served many years in the state assembly after the Revolution and even served as speaker in 1807. His greatest achievement, however, was being elected as a Republican representative to the eighth United States congress from 1803 to 1805.

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The portrait was made by A.B. Doolittle, who worked primarily in New Haven, Connecticut. It seems a little odd that a Connecticut artist would want to make a portrait of a New York politician, but not much is known about Doolittle himself, so his true intentions for this piece are unknown. From the little records that are available on Doolittle, we do know that first worked as a maker of profile portraits in Philadelphia in 1804 and later moved his shop to New Haven. He was known for being a miniaturist, profilist, engraver, etcher on glass, and jeweler. He may have been related in some way to Amos Doolittle, a successful engraver and metalsmith who also worked in New Haven, but we don’t know for certain.

A.B. Doolittle’s work in profile portraiture, etching, and engraving was very congruent with the artistic style and tastes at the time. In the early 1800’s, Americans were still feeling the effects of the Age of Enlightenment that occurred in the 1700’s. The Enlightenment was a time of rational thought, logic, structure, and natural science. Many thinkers of the Enlightenment were inspired by the philosophical, political, and artistic ideas of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as they too followed order and logic that the thinkers so desired.

Profile portraiture became popular during this time and continued being used during the early 1800’s because it reflected these principals. The profile emulates a sense of austereness and restraint. It is a visual representation that is certainly rational and easy to understand. It isn’t overshadowed by superfluous artistic decoration. Profile portraits were also often used on the coinage of ancient Greece and Rome, which might be another reason why artists during the Enlightenment favored this form. This profile portrait of Andrew McCord certainly depicts him as being a composed and stoic politician, which was the most favored depiction during this time.

The materials and process that A.B. Doolittle used to create this portrait are an interesting departure from the typical painted portraits of the same time. Gilding and etching in gold leaf on glass is a precarious endeavor, but Doolittle seemed to have done this type of work a lot, becoming quite skilled. First the extremely delicate gold leaf must be carefully adhered to the class using a mixture of gelatin dissolved in water. When dry, the design can be etched into the gold leaf in reverse. Sometimes a background is put behind the gold leaf to protect and make it easier to see on the other side of the glass when it is displayed. Doolittle worked with a small piece of gold leaf-less than 5 inches by 3.5 inches-and expertly etched the extremely fine details of McCord’s hair, face, and clothing to create the portrait. What we’re left with is a tiny yet striking and effective portrait of the politician. The shimmery gold contrasts drastically with the black background, creating an effervescent image that resonates in the eyes of the viewer.

This fascinating portrait is small and enigmatic, yet it allows us to infer a lot of information about the subject, the artist’s possible intentions, and how it fits into the artistic culture of early 1800’s America. It also makes a large visual impact despite its small stature. It is a fitting symbol of McCord’s legacy that also reflects the enlightenment ideals that shaped the governmental and social sphere in which he lived and worked

Sources:

A.B. Doolittle (XIX).” Artprice.com. Groupe serveur. Web. 19 Sep 2016.

Avery, Kevin J. “Late Eighteenth-Century American Drawings.” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. Web. 19 Sep 2016.

McCord, Andrew, (ca. 1754-1808).” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. History, Art & Archives. Web. 19 Sep 2016.

Techniques in Glass Gilding.” Goldreverre. Australia: Goldreverre. Web. 19 Sep 2016.

Woven History

Hello!  My name is Carly and I am one of the curatorial interns at Historic Huguenot Street for the Fall 2016 semester. My first object of the week is about this woven coverlet in our collection. This coverlet was owned by Ida DuBois Brink, a descendant of the DuBois family, one of the founding families of Huguenot Street. The exact date of creation is unknown, but it can be said with certainty that it was made before Ida DuBois Brink married Egbert Brink in 1844. It was graciously donated to us by Audrey Coons Foster, the great, great granddaughter of Ida DuBois Brink.

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Woven coverlets, such as this one were used to decorate and cover the tops of beds, but they were much more than just a mere household adornment. The creation of coverlets was a crafting tradition that began in the earliest days of the American colonies and continued through the 19th century. The woven textiles were not easy to produce. Their patterns were created by weaving fiber (mostly cotton and wool), row by row, on a large loom. Therefore, woven coverlets were a symbol of craftsmanship and skill for the creator, wealth for the owner who could afford to commission one. In addition to these aspects, they also served as a mode of documentation. They often included patterns and motifs that give us clues as to what the values of the patron were, which in turn gives us clues of the historical context. Woven coverlets often included an inscription on the border that included the name of who the coverlet was made for and the place in which it was made.

Mrs. DuBois Brink’s coverlet is a beautiful example of a figured and fancy, or jacquard coverlet. Woven coverlets were originally made into linear geometric patterns that could easily be made using the cumbersome loom. However, with the invention of a new loom attachment that made more complex patterns possible, the fancy and figured style was born. In this style, the patterns are curvilinear and more realistic, and include various different motifs such as floral, animal, and architectural. Although the production of these coverlets was made easier by the new technology, the process was still complicated. Therefore, most figured and fancy coverlets were produced by professional weavers, the majority of whom were male immigrants who trained their craft overseas in countries such as England and Ireland.

This coverlet has many interesting details that tell us a little about who the patroness was and what the time period in which she lived was like. One of the first striking things about the object is its color. It is a deep, rich red contrasted with cream stitching that makes up its patterning. In New York, formal and stately designs using blue and white and red and white were common for this type of coverlet. These colors, our national colors, must have something to do with how people viewed America and their relationship to it. During this this time in American history, the a free country and the revolution were still fresh and present in people’s minds. Americans were proud of their heritage and the bravery of their forefathers. This manifested itself in the production and display of any and all works of art and household decorations that had to do with patriotism and our nation’s history. Perhaps Ida DuBois Brink chose this color for her coverlet to show off her own patriotism.

Following with this idea, the coverlet also includes another similar motif. Repeatedly woven throughout the textile is the federal eagle, the official seal of the United States. Underneath the eagle, one of the nation’s mottos, “E pluribus unum,” is woven. This Latin phrase roughly translates to “Out of many, one” and, along with the eagle, evokes patriotism and harkens back to the Revolutionary days, when the people of the colonies banded together to create one nation.

Another motif found in the coverlet, the strawberry motif, diverts from this nationalistic theme and tells us more about Ida DuBois Brink herself. The strawberry has been used for hundreds of years in many different religions and cultures to symbolize different things. It can symbolize spring and rebirth, righteousness and love, and passion and purity among many other things. We cannot say for sure which of these things she wanted express by having them included in her coverlet, but we can assume with some certainty that she did want to express something about herself and show herself in a positive light to all who viewed this object.

Probably the most telling part of this woven coverlet is the inscription on its border. The inscription reads “ULSTER COUNTY. N-Y. IDA DUBOIS. LIBERTY-VILLE”. Right away, this tells us two things: who the coverlet was made for and where it was made. It was made, of course, for Ida DuBois, but more importantly, since it just includes her maiden name, it was probably made before 1844 when she married Egbert Nelson Brink, allowing us to roughly date it by the inscription as well. The fact that it was made in Ulster County in Libertyville tells us a lot as well.  Libertyville is a small hamlet in the Town of New Paltz, not far from Historic Huguenot Street. It originally was a farming community, and the DuBois family was one of the main farming families. Therefore, Ida DuBois Brink had some familial connection to Libertyville as well. In this hamlet ran the Libertyville Woolen Mill, which specialized in fancy coverlet weaving. Therefore, that was probably the location where this coverlet was made. Also, interestingly, the mill was run by both the Lowe family and the DuBois family, making an even deeper personal connection between the client and her coverlet.

This stunning coverlet is a treasured addition to our collection and an excellent example of the American tradition of woven coverlets. It demonstrates how these pieces were much more than just bed covers. They were examples of the highest level of craftsmanship. They were personal and customized objects that showed off the values and beliefs of the owner and were representative of times as well. They were truly objects of pride and the centerpieces of many American households. So next time you happen upon one of these coverlets, don’t dismiss it as just a nice decoration. Take a closer look and unlock a treasure trove of history!

Sources

“What is a Coverlet.” The National Museum of the American Coverlet. The National Museum of the American Coverlet website. The National Museum of the American Coverlet. Bedford, PA. Web. 8 September 2016.

“What do Strawberries Symbolize.” Reference.com. Web. 8 September 2016.

“Woven Coverlets Tell Story of Past.” The History Center. Tompkins County, NY. Web. 8 September 2016.

“Town of New Paltz Hamlet Histories: Libertyville.” Historic Preservation Commission. New Paltz, NY. Web. 8 September 2016.