J. Pennell. “Wheelmen in Boston—Review by the Commander on Commonwealth Avenue.” From Harper’s Weekly. New York: June 18, 1881. 6 1/2 x 9. Wood engraving. Very good condition.
Harper’s Weekly was a New York based newspaper in the last half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. In weekly issues, Harper’s presented a mixture of news stories, gossip, poetry, and most notably, wood-engraved illustrations. These pictures remain one of the best sources for lively, informative images of nineteenth-century America. With photographs in a primitive stage, and no television, it is through these illustrations that much of the country got its visual information about the events, personalities and places of the time. These illustrations are also one of the few sources we have today for these same things. Sporting subjects were one of the most popular of these prints and they provide some of the only historic, contemporary images we have of these sports. For the prints, major artists were employed to do drawings on the spot, which were then turned into lively and detailed wood engravings in an amazingly short period of time. While originally issued in large numbers, few have survived the ages in good condition. These are interesting, historical and very collectible prints. This biking print is a wonderful example of the type.