Thursday, December 15, 2011

JM Kershaw & St. Louis "Bears" Stamps

I recently purchased a large lot of ephemera which included an 1844 newspaper entitled The People's Organ printed in St. Louis Missouri. I am totally enamored with the graphic advertisements in the paper. I soon started researching some of the firms hoping to find a letterhead, billhead, receipt, check or trade card to couple with the ads. One of the ads in the paper is for James M. Kershaw - engraver and copperplate printer: bills of exchange, heads of bills, diplomas, business, address and visiting cards, notarial, consular and counting-house seals, silverware, door plates, wood cuts neatly engraver. Research into Kershaw revealed that he designed and printed the St. Louis "Bears" provisional stamps in 1845.

Kershaw was a well-known engraver in St. Louis and proprietor of the Western Card and Seal Engraving Co. Kershaw engraved the designs on a small copper plate, with an area sufficient to contain six subjects in three rows of two. Not having any means of mechanical reproduction he had to cut each design separately by handwork.

The majority of the St. Louis Bears appear to have been used by two firms: Crow & McCreery, wholesale dry goods merchants; and William Nisbet & Co., bankers. These two firms were in the habit of sending to Louisville big bulky letters with enclosed drafts and other letters to be forwarded. Consequently, in the summer of 1895 there was a great find of Bears stamps in Louisville KY.

More information:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Purple Printing

Monday, December 5, 2011

J.W. Orr billheads

Julius W. Orr was born in Ireland in 1815. He was brought to the U.S. as a child. He studied word engraver in New York and later established his own engraving business.