Poughkeepsie, NY: Eastman National Business College, 1882. Oblong 8vo. (100 x 170 mm; 4" x 7"). 102 leaves (fol. 12 blank, fol. 98 loose). "Autographs" album bound in contemporary full green morocco (spine expertly rebacked). Item #3875
ALBUM AMICORUM MANUSCRIPT FROM THE HUDSON VALLEY, NEW YORK, CA. 1872, FEATURING FIVE EXCEPTIONAL EXAMPLES OF AMERICAN CALLIGRAPHY BY S.V. JOHNSON.
In this album of 102 leaves are warmly inscribed autograph sentiments, many of which are quite accomplished, and all but one dated during the summer months of the year 1872. The album was certainly compiled by a student of the Eastman National Business College of Poughkeepsie; while many of the student's colleagues were from the Hudson River valley, others came from the southern United States, the Midwest, and as far away as Cuba and Colombia. The album contains an etched vignette entitled "Residence and Pleasure Grounds of Prof. H.G. Eastman, Presd't of Eastman College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. on the Hudson," which depicts a horse-drawn carriage leaving beautifully landscaped grounds upon which resides a stately house. Preceding the vignette are two inscriptions by J.S. Noard, added later in 1882. That many of the signers were enrolled at Eastman's is attested by their use of the "E.N.B.C." and "E.B.C." suffixes. It is not surprising that a few signers were female, given women's advancement into secretarial jobs (long held by men) and the special vocational training required.
The highlight of the album is the series of five very finely rendered calligraphic specimens executed in purple, blue, gold and brown ink, all signed by S.V. Johnson, Penman of Poughkeepsie, being full color examples of "Off-Hand Flourishing" (see fols. 26r, 35r, 50r, 62r, and 76r. On the facing pages of said leaves cited above, drawn in brown ink, are five more examples of large flourished details by Johnson, whose autograph also appears on fols. 43v and 44r. All ten examples are very similar in style and execution to entry No. 62 in the Peabody Institute exhibition catalogue "Calligraphy & Handwriting in America: 1710-1962" (artist uncredited). S.V. Johnson placed a small ad in the 1880 Youth's Companion for "An Elaborate Work of Art. Perfect Photo Lithograph copies of an elegant Gem of Penmanship, wrought by myself, may be obtained. Get one." The 1881 Census shows his profession as "professional penman." By 1891 he seems to have removed to Waterbury, CT as we learn from the Western Penman, vol. 7, no. 11 (1891), p. 25.
A handsome Album Amicorum, being an excellent vehicle and preserver of American folk art.