Category Archives: 19th Century

The Photographic History of the Civil War

Taken from: The Photographic History of the Civil War-Volume  6 – 1911 George Bancroft-Founder of the Naval Academy
by Francis Trevelyan Miller and Robert S Lanier

George Bancroft-Founder of the Naval Academy

Already notable as a historian in 1845, Bancroft signalised his entrance into President Polk’s cabinet as Secretary of the Navy, by founding the naval school, later the Academy at Annapolis.


Here is a sight the like of which never will be seen again—the U. S. sloop-of-war “Portsmouth” at anchor and drying out her sails.  An honorable record did this old corvette leave behind her.  Of the type of vessel that had fought in the War of 1812, she had gone through the Mexican War, and hail chased and captured many a slaver.  But a year or so ago, she was still afloat as the training-ship of the New Jersey state militia.  The Sloop-of-War “Portsmouth”She has every sail up except her head-sails and studding sails.  As can be seen at a glance, she was a very lofty craft, and though clewed up, she has her sky-sails, her royals, her topgallant-sails, her topsails, set on every mast. “Excellent, whether sailing, steering, working, scudding, lying to, or riding at anchor in a seaway, she sometimes got her sternboard in stays.”   With this single exception, reported Commander Armstrong, “she possesses the finest qualities of any ship I ever sailed in; rolls as easy as a cradle, and stands up under her canvas like a church.”  Lying under her stern is the captain’s gig: her other boats seem to have been called away; probably one of the watches has gone ashore.

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The Napoleon Dynasty …more

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The Origin of the Bonaparte Family
Taken from the Introduction from the book The Napoleon Dynasty by Charles Edwards, published in 1852.

Charles BonaparteIt should not be forgotten that the Bonaparte Family sprang from Italian soil.  That wonderful peninsula has been the fruitful source of genius, and Empire, for nearly thirty centuries.  Whatever light the world has had, sprang from the Hebrews, the Greeks, or the Italians.  The last represent them all.  And thus we owe to them not our NEW WORLD only but all we arc and all we hope to be.  Italy no longer governs the world by arms, but she still asserts her dominion of ideas.  The intellect and the institutions of modern times have been moulded by the genius of Italy.

The object of the book is to furnish in a single volume, authentic biographies of the principal members of the Bonaparte Family.  To gather and arrange from many volumes into one, valuable, rare and interesting materials now floating on the turbid ocean of Modern History – beyond the reach of all but the adventurous, the curious, or the learned.

 The Introduction   Josephine

The Napoleon Dynasty


The Napoleon Dynasty, 1852
The Napoleon Dynasty, 1852

Here is an introductory extract taken from the book The Napoleon Dynasty by Charles Edwards, published in 1852.  More will follow.


The Napoleon Dynasty or the History of the Bonaparte Family


The Lives of Carlo, Letitia and Cardinal Fesch

A BONAPARTE again rules France. The results of the late Revolution, have invested the character and history of Napoleon with a new and deeper interest.

Twice the Bourbons have gone down, and left a Republic in France,—and twice that Republic has given way to the Napoleon Dynasty. The struggle may not yet be over, but there are more Bonapartes than Bourbons living to maintain it.

Something greater than stars watched over the birth of Napoleon, and a power higher than fortune guides the destinies of the Bonaparte Family. No one’s history has been written by so many different hands, no one’s history read by so many eyes, as the Corsican Soldier’s. Not a generation has passed away since he died, and his name and his history, are familiarly known to more men to-day, than Alexander’s or Caesar’s.

No man has ever put forth such influence on human fortunes.  Men and nations bent before him, as willows bend when the storm sweeps by.  It exhausted and impoverished all Europe to crush him.  They chained the Eagle to the bald cliff of a volcanic rock of the ocean, among the clouds—and six years England kept a fleet to watch him, and see him chafe and die; and then they opened his body and took out his vitals, and were sure he was dead—and then they excavated a grave in the rock, and welded his coffin in by strong bars of iron, and then they watched the place for twenty years.

And when at last Europe was no longer afraid of the dead Eagle’s ashes, she let France take them back to the banks of the Seine.

They had stolen the young Eagle from the parent nest, and carried him away among strangers, where he pined, sickened, and died.  Europe then thought she could breathe free again.


Tradesmen’s Tokens No III



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Tradesmen’s Tokens No III This is the third and final part of a three part series on Tradesmen’s Tokens. Tradesmen’s Tokens were commonly used by tradesmen as a form of currency when there was a shortage of the normal types of coin.  It allowed them to continue to trade and was widely used in the mid 17th century.

From The Gentleman’s Magazine Volume 31 May 1849 Page 496

THIS Token appears to have been of the satirical class, and was issued by William Newcome of “Darby.”  The inscription, which is continued  from the obverse to the reverse is “Touch not mine anointed; doe my prophets noe harme;” the propriety of which is not countenanced by any device on the coin.  Doubtless Newcome was a profane wag, and designed to have a fling at the Puritans, who were accustomed to adopt scriptural signs and mottoes (whether appropriately or otherwise) after the “Praise-God Barebones” fashion.*  And had any caviller questioned the  applicability of the quotation, Master Newcome would probably have directed him to read it, “doe my profits noe harme.”  The issuing of these  Tokens was a very profitable affair,  for one pennyworth or copper or brass could be converted into forty or fifty  tokens; hence they came to be issued in such quantities, that the Government was compelled to suppress them  by severe enactments.

 Yours, &c. B. N.

*There is a public-house at Tunbridge Wells, at the back of Mount Sion, which formerly bore for its sign “God encompasseth us;”  the puritanical landlord little imagining it would ever become corrupted into its present ludicrous designation, “The Goat and Compasses.”   Tunbridge Wells during the reign of Charles II. was the stronghold of Puritanism, as the names of “Mount Sion.” “Mount Ephraim,” &c. given to the localities by these sectarians, still attest.  And there is a curious custom still adhered to in the oldest church (or chapel) of this popular place of resort — that of the separation of the sexes during divine service — the men occupying one side, and the women the opposite side of the church.  Even temporary visitors here fall in with this ancient practice, which is doubtless of puritanical origin.

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Tradesmen’s Tokens No II

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Tradesmen’s Tokens No IIThis is the second in a three part series on Tradesmen’s Tokens, following on from my earlier post as promised.  Its from the Gentleman’s Magazine Volume 31 in April 1849 page 369.


From The Gentleman’s Magazine Volume 31 April 1849 Page 369

THE Token engraved here is of the class called “Rhyming Tokens,”— a very rare and limited series.  John Hart has appropriately enough adopted a heart as his device, in juxtaposition with the initials of himself and his wife.  It was a curious but universal custom to place the wife’s as well as the husband’s initials on these Tokens; where it is omitted the presumption is that the man was a bachelor.  Instead of date or motto, round the edge we have this distich, singular for its orthography:

“Take. these. that. wil. Ile. chaing. them. sti.”

equivalent to the “I promise to pay” on the bank notes of the present day.

Snelling has noticed these Tokens, and has engraved one that reads:

“Though I’m but brasse,
Yet let me passe.”

and he has also described another, of which we have an example in our own collection, issued by the proprietor of the “Coffee House in Exchange Ally” (now Garraway’s), which bears the device of a Turk’s head, with this rhyming inscription:

“Morat the Great, men did mee call,
Where’er I came I conquer’d all.”

Coffee having been introduced into Europe via Turkey, a Turk’s head naturally became the favourite sign of coffee-houses; and Amurath III. (popularly called Morat or Morad), who was a renowned warrior, appears to have been the most popular personage, although we have occasionally met with Tokens bearing the head of “Solyman.”

B. N.


Part 3 of Tradesmen’s Tokens coming soon

Images from the 19th Century


Tradesmen’s Tokens

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The Tradesmen’s Token series of images caught my eye when looking through todays Flickr set Images from the 19th Century.  There’s a humourous story surrounding them as written about in this excerpt from The Gentlemen’s Magazine – Volume 31 – March 1849 page 248:




FEW of your antiquarian readers are unacquainted with the small “Tradesmen’s Tokens” current in the seventeenth century. During the period of the Protectorate and the Restoration they abounded, and the necessities of the time gave them an extensive local circulation. The earliest known date is 1648; in 1672 they were suppressed by royal ordinance; and, if we may judge from dates, the largest numbers appear to have been issued in 1665 and 1666, the period of the “greate fyre” and the plague. Pinkerton has spoken of these pieces with the utmost scorn, disdaining them as utterly unworthy of notice; but we are not of those who yield to the dictum of that learned pedant. Many of them are of very neat workmanship, and interesting as illustrative of costume and heraldry; others are of a political or satirical character, while some describe trades and occupations, a few of which are now obsolete; to say nothing of them as records of old localities, and the orthographical designation of towns, buildings, and streets, now swept away by the ruthless hand of time, the great fire, and the no less devastating march of modern improvement. As illustrative of old London, they abound in interest.

The Token delineated above, which we have selected for illustration, was issued by the master of a tavern or public-house at Hockley in the Hole, in the county of Bedford.

The “sign” is one that dates from the period of the Reformation. Not only were learning and argument then employed in exposing the fallacies of the Popish system; but, in the fierce contentions of the time, scurrility and buffoonery were resorted to, as auxiliaries well adapted for prejudicing the common people. The conclave of cardinals was irreverently designated as a ‘set of old women’, and hence “Old Mother Red Cap” became a popular sign with the vulgar and the profane.

George Hall may have been a Puritan, and probably intended the device on his token to convey a sly sarcasm on the orders of the Popish priesthood. There is considerable ingenuity in the pictorial management of the device. If Popery were in the ascendant, the publican might aver that his token represented merely a tapster with the symbols of his occupation in his hands. On the other hand, the sign might be regarded, as it was obviously intended to be, as a caricature of a cardinal bearing the elements of the Eucharist. Transubstantiation was one of the points most fiercely contested.

Yours, &c. B. N.

* Mr. J. Y. Akerman has now in the press a work on the “Tradesmen’s and Tavern-Tokens of London in the Seventeenth Century,” which promises to be of considerable antiquarian and historical interest.


There are more in this series, so keep a watchful eye out for follow up postings.

The Chautauquan



The Chautauquan

We’ve got 652 images from 10 early volumes of the Chautauquan, they’re grouped together on Contact Sheets and published to our Flickr Photostream and also as a Flickr set.  The Contact Sheets contain a random selection of images from these several volumes.

The Chautauquan, first published in 1880,  was a monthly magazine devoted to the promotion of true culture – Organ of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle.

These images are from Volumes 5 (1885), Volume 8 (1888), Volume 9 (1889), Volume 10 (1890), Volume 11 (1890), Volume 14 (1892), Volume 15 (1892), Volume 16 (1893), Volume 19 (1894), Volume 57 (1909).





Munsey’s Magazine Dec 1899
An interesting article came up in Munsey’s Magazine all about how the magazine is put together, marketed and distributed to the public.  Written by Frank Munsey himself in 1899, it gives a detailed account of how he pioneered the ’10 cent magazine’. Rivalry is abound from his counterparts at Scribners, Harpers, and The Century Magazine.
Frank starts with what kind of material to include in the magazine and what the people want from a magazine.  He decides that rather than make a magazine for himself, or for any particular set or faction;  to make it for human nature,  as he understands it, and for all the people everywhere.