The Winterthur Library

 The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum

5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE  19735

302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883





Creator:         L. Prang & Co.                                              

Title:               Collection

Dates:             1864-1900

Call No.:         Col. 201

Acc. No.:        [various – see detailed description]

Quantity:        28 items

Location:        18 H 4-5 and map case 3, drawer 1






Louis Prang was a lithographer, wood engraver, and educator.  Born in Bresslau, Germany in 1824, he served as an apprentice in his father's factory for dyeing and printing calico from the time he was 13 until he was 18.  He then went to Hagen in Westphalia to study techniques for printing and dyeing.  In 1848, Prang fled Germany after having been implicated in revolutionary activity.  By 1850, he had settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where he entered into a short-lived venture to publish architectural works.  He then learned wood engraving and worked at it until 1856 when he went into the lithographic business with Julius Mayer.  In 1860, Prang and Mayer dissolved their partnership and Prang established the firm of L. Prang & Co.


L. Prang & Co. initially produced trade cards, announcements, and various forms of advertising.  During the Civil War, the firm sold maps and plans of battles.  After the war, Prang began printing chromolithographs, often reproductions of famous works of art.  In 1867, he established a model printing plant in Roxbury, Mass.  During the 1870s, the firm began issuing Christmas and other greeting cards.  Prang was also well-known as a dealer in artists' supplies and published a number of drawing books.  In 1882, Prang founded the Prang Educational Company.  Prang retired from active business in 1899 and died ten years later in a California sanitarium.  L. Prang & Co. was sold to the American Crayon Co. in 1918.





This is an artificial collection formed by gathering materials produced by L. Prang & Co. or items relating to Louis Prang that were not already part of another collection.  It consists of a range of volumes produced between 1864 and 1891, including proof books, greeting cards, albums and album cards, a map of Boston, samples of advertisements produced by Prang, and teaching aids.  Also included are a letter from Edwin A. Abbey and 118 cancelled checks from 1899 and 1900 signed by Louis Prang.





The larger albums are on the shelf; smaller items which are in the box are divided by type, and are then in accession number order.





The materials are in English.





Collection is open to the public.  Copyright restrictions may apply.





Gifts and purchases from various sources.



ACCESS POINTS (for collection as a whole; those items which have been individually cataloged have their own access points)



            Prang, Louis, 1824-1909.



            Advertising - United States.

            Checks - Massachusetts - Boston.

            Business records - Massachusetts - Boston.

            Finance, Personal.

            Chromolithography, Victorian.


            Printing - Specimens.










Location: 18 H 4-5 and map case 3, drawer 1



Box 1:


Folder 1a: blank cards; greeting cards;    


68x164.864-865, .1133-.1134             four blank cards, decorated with flowers, all of which could have been used for trade cards; .864 and .865 could also have been used for visiting or calling cards


84x155.9         card printed by Prang, probably intended for use as visiting or trade card, but in this case with “Merry Christmas!” printed on the front.  Written on the back is “Grandma from Wessie[?].”



Folder 1b: trade cards; advertisements     


82x53              Announcement of the Youth’s Companion for 1877, the semi-centennial volume.


L. Prang & Co. printed this advertisement for this magazine, which itself was published by Perry Mason & Co. of Boston.  The advertisement lists contributors, special subjects to be covered, reasons for subscribing to the magazine, prizes to be awarded to those bringing in the greatest number of new subscribers (including pianos, organs, and watches), and subscription price.  The ad is printed on front and back.


2017x104        two-sided advertisement for materials printed by L. Prang & Company.

                                    One side; Yawcob Strauss Series, by Charles Follen Adams (aka “Yawcob Strauss”: Adams was a poet who wrote in dialect);

                                    Other side: “Dot Long-Handled Dipper,” a poem by Charles Follen Adams, published in the form of a dipper;

                                    Prang published the poems, but they were available from Adams



Folder 2: Letter and bill


69x81              Lewis Prang, L. Prang & Co., Boston, to Prof. Putnam, Peabody Museum, Cambridge, Mass.; About charges for making a printing plate and for printing 1000 copies.


92x162.20       Bill, L. Prang & Co., New York, to Edwin McManus, Randolph, N.Y., Dec. 14, 1888; for four sets of Christmas cards and other items.




Folder 3: Bank checks


 69x155           bank checks, 1899-1900; over 100 checks signed by Louis Prang, drawn on the National Rockland Bank of Boston.  Each check includes a two cent documentary stamp.



Folder 4: Map of Boston; Galaxy Album


77x492            Prang's map of Boston, 1872.


"Map of Boston, 1872, after the latest survey with all improvements in progress."  The map is printed on one side of a sheet of paper that folds out of a bound volume; it includes a street index.  A trade card of L. Prang & Co., publishers of Prang's American Chromos is pasted to the inside front cover, having been glued over an ad for Prang's Art Publishing House.  The inside back cover also contains an ad for Prang's American Chromos.

78x28              Eckert, Emma C.

                        Galaxy album: especially adapted for autographs and sketches, 1880-1888.


Used by Eckert as an autograph album from 1881 to 1888, this volume was published by L. Prang & Co. in 1880.  It contains eight chromolithographs featuring scenes with birds and flowers.  The autographs were written by Emma's friends and cousins.  Most include a brief saying; many were from people who resided in Monticello, N.Y.  One autograph includes a calligraphy drawing of a bird; another includes a drawing of a spray of flowers.



Folder 5: albums


79x119            Album [of sea moss], [1864?]


Consists of 24 cards, each featuring a specimen of American sea moss (or seaweed). The cards are in an album patented by Prang in 1864.


79x120            Autumn leaves. part 4, [1868?]


Set of twelve cards in an envelope with pictures of leaves. A caption on each card identifies the type of leaf shown.  This and other sets were advertised by Prang as albums cards in oil paints.



Folder 6: teaching aid


82x343            Prang's aids for teaching trades and occupations. [reproduction]


Consists of a reprinted set of twelve teaching aids originally published by Prang in 1874.  Shown are carpenters, shoemakers, a tailor, a blacksmith, a lithographer, a kitchen, gardening, a farm yard, haymaking, a baker, a tinsmith, and a printer.  In the illustrations, the craftspeople are engaged in their craft.



Folder 7: illustrations


92x112            Native flowers and ferns, 1878.


Consists of six illustrations (plates 41-42, 44-45, and 47-48) from Prang's series of Native flowers and ferns, Vol. 1.  A caption on each plate identifies the type of plant shown.  This and other sets of cards were advertised by Prang as album cards in oil paints.



Folder 8: album of examples of historic ornament (set 1)


80x270            Prang Educational Company.

                        The Prang examples of historic ornament, 1879.


One of two incomplete sets of "historic ornament charts in color for reference in painting the various styles of ornament and for the study of correct historic color schemes and color harmony."  The periods covered are Roman, Arabian, Gothic I and II, and Renaissance I and II.  The two portfolios have different covers. 


This set has Roman, plates 1-7; Arabian, plates 1-2 and 4-5; Gothic I, plates 1-8; Gothic II, plates 1 and 3 and an unnumbered plate on the cover of the portfolio; Renaissance I, plates 1-7; Renaissance II, plates 1-7.


In original cloth-covered portfolio, with copy of one of the plates on front (Gothic II, plate number illegible).  Remnants of glued paper obscure parts of the cover illustration.


The Prang Educational Company was founded in 1882 by Boston lithographer, Louis Prang, in order to publish drawing books and art material for use in schools.  Mary Dana Hicks was the firm's editor.  The company also offered training for teachers.


See also 96x21 – another copy, but with a different cover



Folder 9: album of examples of historic ornament (set 2)


96x21              Prang Educational Company.

                        The Prang examples of historic ornament, 1879.


One of two incomplete sets of "historic ornament charts in color for reference in painting the various styles of ornament and for the study of correct historic color schemes and color harmony."  The periods covered are Roman, Arabian, Gothic I and II, and Renaissance I and II.  The portfolios have different covers;  the cover on this set is Gothic II, plate 6.


This set includes Roman, plates 1-7; Arabian, plates 1-2 and 4-5; Gothic I, plates 1-8; Gothic II, plates 1 and 3, with plate 6 on the cover of the portfolio; Renaissance I, plates 1-7; and Renaissance II, plates 1-4 and 6-7.


See acc. 80x270 for other set






69x174            Fisher girls proof book, 1871.


Shows the color progression of a chromolithograph depicting two girls in a seaside setting.  Background items include the ocean, sky, sailboat, and a basket with a fishnet hanging out of it.  Each of the depictions contains annotations listing the colors as they were added and comments on them.  The finished product is signed by H. A. Dieffenbach.



69x175.1         Proof book [of Oriental ceramic art], 1891.


Documents the color progression used for preparing two chromolithographs of vases for Oriental Ceramics Art (plates XVI and XLVI).  Twenty-nine colors were used in preparing the final plate.  Each of the illustrations includes notes about the colors used.  The back of each page is stamped with the proof number, "Vases IX b.c." and the sheet number written in.  Charles Thurwanger was the lithographer.


In the 1880s, L. Prang & Co. was commissioned by W. T. Walters to prepare 116 color plates for a book on his collection of oriental ceramics.  It took three artists from the firm and nearly ten years to produce the chromolithographic plates.  Five hundred copies of the book, Oriental Ceramics Art, were published in 1896.



70x21              Proof book [relating to pearls and gems], 1890.


Lithograph proof book showing the progression of two illustrations, pearls and gems, from the first color to the twenty-ninth color.  The last few illustrations have a plate number and a note about copyright.  This material was copyrighted in 1890 by the Scientific Publishing Co.  In this proof book, both illustrations appear on the same sheet of paper, but the illustrations were cut apart for the published work.


L. Prang & Co. produced these plates, numbers 6 (amethyst) and 8 (pearl), for the book Gems and Precious Stones of North America, by George Frederick Kunz, published by the Scientific Publishing Co., 1890.



77x537            Condolence cards, [ca. 1879-ca. 1884]


Contains 32 condolence cards, some copyrighted between 1879 and 1883, and published by Prang.  A price per set, which included envelopes, is given.  The cards contain verses about mourning or from scripture; several contain poems signed "Whittier" and "W.G. Bryant."  A few cards just say "in memoriam."  All of the cards feature flowers.  Also included is a booklet, "Gems for Eastertide," that is made up of Easter cards with sayings and verse appropriate for the day.



77x538            Valentine cards, 1884, published by L. Prang & Co., Boston.


Consists of two books of Valentine cards, 117 samples in all, copyrighted in 1882 and 1883, and published by L. Prang & Co. in 1884.  Each page has a label with the stock number for the cards on that page.  The artist's name and price per set is included for most of the cards.  Some of the cards have verses on them. Illustrations with flowers predominate.  Forty-eight of the cards are bordered with silk fringe.


Two volumes bound together between cloth boards and tied together through three holes with cord; valentines glued to the pages.




84x155.15       two birthday greeting cards copyrighted by Prang, 1882.  Both have images on front and back and are decorated with silk fringe all around.  One of the cards was intended for girls as the verse is addressed to a “sweet maid.” 






77x297            Abbey, Edwin Austin, 1852-1911.

                        Letter, 1874 November 26: to L. Prang.


Relates Abbey's hope of finding a studio in New York City and mentions the enclosure of a rough colored sketch [no longer with letter] and a large watercolor for Prang to look at when it was finished.  Also included is a black and white reproduction of an Abbey painting.  [Letter and print mounted on a green board.]


Edwin Austin Abbey was a painter.  Born in Philadelphia, he was self-taught and initially employed in a wood engraver's shop.  In 1872, Abbey began working as an illustrator for Harper's.  He also painted murals, including those for the Boston Public Library and Pennsylvania Capitol.



78x250            Prang & Meyer.

                        Mount Vernon Superior Cotton labels  (in map case)


An uncut sheet of eight labels for Mount Vernon Superior Cotton.  The labels were printed by Prang & Meyer of Boston.  A bust of The Hon. Ed. Everett appears in the middle of each label, flanked by statues of George Washington and Liberty.



12x98              “State Arms of the Union,” circa 1862 (in map case)


                        Shields of 35 states, arranged in no particular order, perhaps published in 1862, when Utah petitioned to become a state.  (The date is derived from the fact that the arms of West Virginia, which became a state in 1863, are not present.)  Marked: Engraved and Published by L. Prang & Co., 109 Washington St., Boston.


                        Handle with care – breaking along edges