Thursday, May 10, 2012

'Success' Has Many Fathers

Above the fold, pg. 7, Cincinnati Enquirer, March 31, 1918

“…The British convict ship Success, built 138 years ago in India of priceless teakwood, asserted by the British Museum authorities to have been growing in the forests before Christ, is anchored in Cincinnati at the foot of Vine street. She is the oldest ship in the world and is the last of England’s fleet of felon transports…The [story of the] Success is a most extraordinary one and is more remarkable than any that could be conceived in the imagination of the fiction writer…The Success was launched in 1790. She was constructed at Moulmein, British Burmah [sic], under the shadow of the old pagoda celebrated by Kipling.
Though built by coolie labor, her builders were the best of woodworkers for apart from her stanch construction there are still remains on board of really beautifully executed woodcraft…In 1802 the Success fell from caste and became an “ocean hell,” a devil ship, which, instead of harboring the high and mighty potentates of the gilded East, became the home and the scourge of England’s worst criminals, the born malefactors, as well as the unfortunate, whom a terrible penal system manufactured into a convict and an outcast.
It was then that these rows of gloomy, horror-haunted cells were built for the reception of her human freight to be carried in them without sunlight [and] ventilation, almost without food, with the scantiest of raiment and the utmost infliction of cruelties and depredation across the 16,000 miles that separated England from her colonies in Australia…The first actual record of convict transportation dates to James I, when convicts were brought to Maryland and Virginia. At that time His Majesty’s colonies and plantations in America needed laborers. It was decreed that prisoners nominally sentenced to death should be handed over to contractors, who transported them to America and sold them at public auction to plantation owners. This was before African slavery. Competition was keen and prices ruled high.
The War of American Independence closed our ports to Great Britain’s criminal sewage. It was then that Captain James Cook established for England, in Botany Bay, in the South Seas, a penal settlement…They described pestiferous dens, overcrowded, dark, dirty, illy ventilated and deprived of pure air. Idleness, drunkenness, vicious intercourse, slackness, starvation, squalor, cruelty, chains, awful oppression and everywhere culpable neglect…It was believed then that the transportation of convicts would correct abuses, but it proved a failure…[On the] initial trip 1,695 male convicts were taken, also 68 women convicts. One hundred and ninety-four of the men and five of the women died during the voyage, and 116 died soon after landing. The master of each ship was paid head money for each prisoner embarked, However, it paid them more to lose a prisoner owing to a saving in food. It is a fact that many convicts were purposely starved. A convict would not report a death for the reason that he and his survivors would share the allowance of the dead…In 1801 the discovery of gold in Australia attracted emigrants from all over the globe. Australia was the Mecca for specialized outlawry. Bush-ranging became a profession. There were no prisons in the newly created city of Melbourne and meanwhile the criminal element was coming in an endless stream. A call was sent to the master of the Success and others in the felon fleet at Van Dieman’s Land and Botany Bay to anchor off Williamstown, a few miles from Melbourne.

Anchored at the foot of Vine Street and next to the Suspension Bridge

Hobson’s Bay was then an open roadstead. There was no harbor accommodation. Convicts were taken off the ships to work in the quarries preparing stone to build a breakwater. They were also put to work erecting public buildings, including a prison. These men labored in chains during the day and at night went back to the Success and other ships to sleep in stifling cells. So much disorder arose that the convicts were useless as workmen and the ships were ordered out of commission, except as confinement hulls. It was in 1851 that the British Government declared that the Success should remain for all time in Melbourne as a confinement hull.
For her there was no peace in old age. She had on board 230 desperadoes. No ring of buoys around the vessel’s anchorage could prevent occasional wild rushes for escape and two sensational outbreaks on her attracted so much attention in 1857 that the end of the awful system was declared.
The first of these two exceptional outbreaks was inspired by one Captain Melville (real name Frank McCallum) who was a native of Paisley, Scotland. It was while serving time for stealing a pie from a baker’s cart that he made his escape and became the leader of a band of bush-rangers. He was recaptured and given a term of 32 years. Soon after he stabbed a guard to death on the Success, using a sharp spoon for a weapon. October 22, 1856, he assisted in killing two Success guards, Owen Owens and John Turner. When arraigned for trial he pleaded his own case, was sentenced to death, but his disclosures of the abuses of the system on the Success and her sister ships caused his conviction to be quashed. Again he went back to his cell. He was found dead. It was said that he killed himself, but it was generally understood that officers of the Success had ended his existence to stop his recital of tyranny and torture to the convicts.
In March of the next year Captain John Price, Inspector General of the Australian penal system, who originated the tortures to which the convicts on the ships were subjected, was beaten to death by prisoners. Seven convicts were hanged for this at Melbourne within a month following the tragedy. This wholesale execution put the finishing touch to the Success and other convict ships. Preachers and the press flamed into violent protests against the wrongs [perpetrated] in the name of justice. Prison reform doctrines in the novels of Dickens and Reade had penetrated Australia, with the result that a Select Committee on Penal Affairs made a report to Parliament…For some years later—from 1860 to 1868—the Success was used as a women’s prison; then she became successively a reformatory ship and an ammunition store. A little later all the prison hulks were ordered to be sold on the express condition that they were to be broken up, and their associations lost to recollection of the people of Australia. By clerical error, however, that condition did not appear upon the terms of sale of the Success. Hence she remains the only British convict ship afloat on the seven seas. In 1885 the old ship was scuttled and sunk in Sydney Harbor. She remained under the picturesque waters at Ft. Jackson for five years, and was then, at an enormous expense, raised to be exhibited to the present generation as an exceptional object lesson and a vivid reminder of an almost forgotten period in penal history. She has since then been on exhibition not only in the Australian colonies, but has twice circumnavigated Great Britain and Ireland. Her visitors have numbered over 15,000,000 people, including the late King Edward of England, the Prince of Wales, the Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg, and other members of the English Royal family, the German Emperor, Captain Dreyfuss of Devils Island, Lord Beresford, the late Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone and many other notables.

In 1912 she attempted what was perhaps the greatest feat in all her remarkable career—to make the passage across the Atlantic under her own sail, unaccompanied by tug or steamer. The shipping world was aghast when the voyage was projected. Impossible, said every man that ever sailed the seas in ships, that this century-and-a-quarter-old hulk could brave the spring hurricanes of the Western ocean. But a gallant crew of adventurous souls, under the command of Captain D. H. Smith, hoisted sail and took her out of Glasson Dock, near the port of Liverpool, on the very day that the ill-fated Titanic left the port of Southhampton. For 96 days she battled bravely, her stanch old hull defying the crashing gales and mountainous seas, and at length made port in Boston Harbor with a crew worn out and half-starved, but bravely triumphant.
Her arrival in Cincinnati is especially interesting for the reason she is the first foreign vessel that has ever entered this port. Her battles with the ice in the Ohio River this winter proved the most dangerous of all her experiences since leaving England on her memorable voyage in 1912. It was [thanks to her remarkable] construction that saved her from the fate of so many of our own river craft, which were crushed to pieces by the grinding ice.
No museum in the world contains the same relics as may be seen on the Success. Around the high bulwarks are suspended all of the agencies of tortures that human minds of a century ago could invent. In the “tiger’s den” is depicted the murder of Captain Price.
The “tiger’s den” derived the name from the ferocity of the convicts confined there. They are credited with fighting until all were hammered into helplessness. Order was restored again and again by guards firing through the bars and over their heads. There is the “black hole.” In it is a wax figure stooping in weariness. The ankles and wrists are chained. Men have been kept in that hole for 100 days.
In the cells on the middle deck may be seen wax figures of the “six men of Dorset.” These were the first trade union martyrists, not long ago honored in England by the erection of a marble shaft. The price of corn had risen, while that of wages had dropped. The “six men of Dorset” united to effect a raise of one shilling. For this the “six men of Dorset” were deported to Australia for seven years.
Ranged on the same deck with the martyrs of unionism are six wax figures of Dan Morgan, arch fiend of Australia, who killed 92 men; Captain Starlight, the man of mystery, who stole race horses, always hunted up an officer to dine with and who won one of Australia’s richest turf prizes with the thoroughbred Rainbow, which, of course, he stole; Frank Gardiner, after serving two terms on the Success for celebrated thefts, was liberated upon promise to leave the country, and ended his days in San Francisco as a hotel proprietor, and others of renown in Australia’s record.
On the lower deck, “the home of the bad men,” are the wax figures of Jacky Williams Hill, alias Burgess, whose blasphemous confession startled the world; Henry Garrett, who boasted of having spent 52 Christmeses in confinement; Owen Suffolk, the Australian poet, who stole 10 cents and whose poems of love and devotion won the admiration of Australians and the money prizes of magazine publishers; Daniel Donovan, who after serving 16 years on the Success, was released to die and immediately afterward it was ascertained that he was innocent; John Hefferman, the giant, who received a call from his mother, and as she slipped a ring on his finger fell lifeless at his [sic] feet; Frederick MacDonald, who flogged prisoners for 40 cents each, and after his release from the Success was shot dead in Melbourne by a former convict; the Kelly gang, shown as modern Australian outlaws, but they were never prisoners on the Success. The capture of [the gang] cost Australia more than a half million dollars [more than $7 million in 2012 dollars]. Kate Kelly was the spy from the days they first stole sheep until they murdered by wholesale.

--Cincinnati Enquirer, March 31, 1918

Images: Cincinnati Public Library Newspaper Archive, Kentucky Historical Society, Ohio Memory Project

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Final Layer of Press

Shortly after the installation of the Western & Southern mural, Billy falls ill and Alza writes the CAA.

“What ever are you up to now, Billy Hentschel?
That’s what some of his friends might ask the widely known Cincinnati artist if they walked into his studio-workshop at his country home in Boone County, near Burlington, Ky.
For Mr. Hentschel, who is properly William E., might be pushing a little roller around on his drawing board, eyeling the edge of a huge stencil, or deep in thought over a partly finished work.
But Mr. Hentschel knows well what he is up to. He is “brayer” painting these days and he finds it fascinating, he said yesterday.
He started his new technique three years ago and has been experimenting and perfecting his idea ever since.
Now, he has 15 of his brayer (roller) works ready for a one-man showing October 29-November 10 at the Closson Galleries, 421 Race St.

An aging Billy, the stencil and 3 finished 'paintings'.

The idea for his new type of painting stemmed from the current designs of modern homes, he said.
He thought of all the young people moving into the present-day streamlined houses and realized, he said, that they should have the kind of art to go with those new homes.
Then came another thought one day as he was watching some fellow-artists doing some difficult work on woodblock.
How much easier it would be to apply the paint with a roller, the brayer type used by printers to ink type!
So Mr. Hentschel got some rollers in various sizes and set about making some stencils to try his talent and hand in another new field.
He cuts as many as 10 stencils in a series for one painting. Each stencil goes down in its turn on the fine artist paper on his drawing board to add its big or little part to the finished product. Some in the series may permit only a few little dots or a couple of lines.
This method of application, Mr. Hentschel said, makes for a clear, clean-cut job with delightfully jewel-toned overlays that have the very essence of modern life.
Although Mr. Hentschel can use the same set of stencils to make many copies of the same painting, no two ever are quite alike, he said.
That is because he may vary the depth of color the next time in one of the overlays or apply one a little sooner or later than previously, resulting in a change of tone and an individuality to that particular picture.
Oils are Mr. Hentschel’s medium for his breyer paintings with his gelatin rollers, which wouldn’t hold up against water, he said. Rubber rollers would have to be used for water colors, he explained.
A new field of art is really “old shoe” for Mr. Hentschel. He ventured into air brush work way back in 1928 and his stencils and series of aquatones in that technique have had a place in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington since 1935.
His drawings and paintings, in both oils and water colors, have traveled afar to Oxford, London, Paris and even to Australia for a show at Melbourne.
He has exhibited in virtually all the major museums in this country, including Carnegie Institute, Whitney Museum in New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and he has been represented in national circulating shows and in the Western Hemisphere Show of Ceramics.
At home, he is particularly outstanding for his excellent murals in the Carew Tower Arcade, Rookwood Room of the Cincinnati Union Terminal, Bell Telephone Co. building and Western & Southern Life Insurance Building. His initials mark many choice pieces of Rookwood, for he formerly was associated with the pottery for many years and has at least 4000 works there to his credit.
Mr. Hentschel is also a well-known figure and name to hundreds of students of art, for he has taught at the Cincinnati Art Academy since 1921.

"Braying" the paint...

Not the least the Bohemian artist type in appearance, Mr. Hentschel looks more like an easy-going business man or professor.
“I’ve never gone in for smocks” Mr. Hentschel said, “I just wear regular clothes like most other folks.”
He is always eager to take a good look at his latest product away from his studio. So he hangs his new brayer paintings in the living room at his farm home as soon as they are finished. Then he decides if they really are finished.
They provide a bit of an assortment there with the antique furniture which his wife, Alza, also an artist and former teacher at the Art Academy, has collected over the years.
But “the old and the new” are an all-right-combination with Mr. Hentschel. He’s of the opinion that the abstract symbols of his new brayer works are fundamentally “antique treasures.”

--May Dearness, Cincinnati Enquirer (B&W newsprint photos, Bob Free), October 14, 1956

Kakapo, brayer print, 2/25, 27" x 23", signed LR

"Admirers of William E. Hentschel, widely known Cincinnati painter and designer, wouldn’t be surprised if the moon appeared one night with its craters revamped and newly tinted with pastel shades…Bill’s newest projects, they’d remark.
Bill Hentschel’s imagination long monumentalized by murals in many important Queen City office buildings only surprises the neophyte. But even the verteran Hentschelian will be stopped in his tracks by the artist’s new brayer paintings now on view at Closson’s Gallery…a premere [sic], incidentally.
The printer’s breyer ink roller dipped in paint is used by the artist to create swathes, half-moons, waves of color.
Waves that surge across panels bearing on their crests exotic birds elliptical Etruscan warrior dancers, Nairobi medicine-men and even an occasional Arabian Nights “roc”.

Red Bird, breyer print, 165/447, 29" x 26", signed LL

The colors—and sometimes you wonder if Hentschel dips his brayer in vagrant rainbows—are never apologetic. Scarlets and greens jostle elbows, yellow-browns leer at inky blacks. Chromatic delirium, you might say.
But it is his birds that hold your attention the longest. No ordinary birds, of course, snared with Mayan hunters’ nets or wizards from the land of Exotique. My favorite is Ibis, or is it Ibises? These flame-red, long-legged birds could exist only in a dream aviary if Audobon had been captured by Barbary pirates and fed hasheesh he might have depicted such birds."

--Henry Humphries, Music and Art Critic, Cincinnati Times-Star, September 28, 1956.
[Text reconstructed from near illegible archival original.]

Images: Cincinnati Public Library Newspaper Archive, Cincinnati Modern 1930/90 CAG, 2000, Parade of Discovery, Duke Gallery, 1987

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Mural Vanishes

"Back in the seventies I helped Alza Stratton Hentschel move to Lexington Ky from Burlington Ky. and heard a few stories. There were boxes and boxes of Rookwood/ Kenton Hills Pottery and glazing information that I packed. I knew this info was extremely valuable but any time I inquired about [it] to Mrs.Hentschel she became guarded to the point of hostility. Her only relative I saw was her mother whom Alza called "bright eyes". She never spoke a word but had these very intense blue eyes. My three days with her proved ...different? She remained guarded during my employ…We talked of art mostly. She was indeed a wonderful painter as well as she showed me some of her work. I was working in ceramics at the time so we established rapport right away. Any discussion of Billy’s work brought an immediate change in her personality. I thought she may have had mental problems because of her swift changes in mood. Now I think she may have just been a lonely old woman with her memories and a genuine mistrust of everyone."

 —Email from an online reader, December 9, 2005

“In 1951, commissioned to create a mural for a three-story stairway in the Western and Southern Life Insurance Building, Billy painted the 20’ x 99’ work on canvas panels at home, with Alza’s assistance, and then installed it in the stairwell. Entitled “Joys of Living,” his only painted mural, the panels portrayed a surrealistic parade of dancers, musicians, acrobats, harlequins and other fantastic figures ascending toward a quiet garden where a solitary stone cherub perched on a pedestal, pouring an endless stream of water into a tranquil, flowing fountain…Billy wrote to a former pupil who had become an interior designer in New York City....”I painted seriously for a few years and exhibited here and there; but the conviction that a painting should be made available to a person who loved art through some other means than the icey [sic] gallery led me to make these new things...”

--Parade of Discovery: The Works of William E. Hentschel 1892-1962, Don Wellman, 1987

The Western & Southern 'Temple' and Charles F. Williams

“Cincinnati friends of William Ernst Hentschel, long-time instructor at the Cincinnati Art Academy and Cincinnati pioneer in at least two media of artistic expression, learned just yesterday that their associate had died Monday at the Norton Infirmary, Louisville, after a long illness…Born in New York in 1892, Mr. Hentschel came to Cincinnati in his youth. He taught at the Art Academy from 1921 until his retirement in the mid-1950s. He had exhibited works in many places in this country and had done murals for the Carew Tower Arcade, the Rookwood Room of the Union Terminal, the Cincinnati & Suburban Bell Telephone Co. and the Western & Southern Life Insurance Co. buildings. He also had designed for Rookwood Pottery…”

--Cincinnati Enquirer, June 21, 1962

“Services for William E. Hentschel, 70, artist, designer and instructor at the Cincinnati Art Academy for 27 years, were held today at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home, Lexington. He died Tuesday in Louisville, Ky…During his stay in Cincinnati he painted the murals for the Carew Tower Arcade, the Rookwood Room of the Union Terminal, the Cincinnati and Suburban Bell Telephone Co. and the Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. He also was a designer for the Rookwood Pottery.
As a pioneer in cubist expression, he was one of the first to use the airbrush as an artist’s tool. Some of his airbrush work is exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute. He also developed multiple stencils as a mode of expression of modern feeling.
His last exhibition was in January 1962 at the Town Club.”

--Cincinnati Post and Times-Star, June 21, 1962

Detail, Joys of Living, photos of maquette, undated

Charles F. Williams, Chairman of the Board of the Western & Southern Life Insurance Co. and widely known philanthropist, died early yesterday at his home near Forestville…He assisted the late Archbishop John T. McNicholas in founding the Institutum Divi Thomae in 1935 and supplied funds necessary to put it into operation. He also was one of the organizers of Sperti, Inc., formed to manufacture products developed by the Institutum.
Mr. Williams was chairman of the 1932 Community Chest Campaign, general chairman of President Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration for Cincinnati and Hamilton County; a former President of the Cincinnati Property Owners Association; a trustee of the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts; director and trustee of Rookwood Pottery and a past President of the Civic Opera Association…”

--Cincinnati Enquirer, September 12, 1952

"It was said that Mrs. Williams, as executrix, would during her lifetime, indicate which institutions are to benefit from his estate. Williams has five children, Mrs. Elizabeth W. Kyte, Mrs. Margaret W. Herschede, Charles M. Williams, president of the insurance firm, William J. Williams and James R. Williams.”

--Cincinnati Times-Star, September 26, 1952

‘Charles F. Williams, noted Cincinnati philanthropist, didn’t leave an estate of millions as many persons believed, relatives said Tuesday.
Mr. Williams…had given away the bulk of his vast fortune to charities many years ago.
The $379,012 [or $3,280,842.29 in 2012 dollars] listed on his inventory was all he had left relatives said…

--Cincinnati Post, October 7, 1952

Hentschel's handwriting in pencil on reverse of maquette photos.

"Still checking at W&S regarding the mural you are asking about. W. J. Williams has no recollection of this mural. He is 93 years old and has been there many, many years. Can you tell me what the subject matter of the mural was. This may help jog someone's memory."

--Williams spokesperson replying to Blogger inquiry about mural, April 23, 2009

Another area of mural...

"The Cincinnati Art Museum’s archives have several black and white photographs of what I imagine is a study (maquette) for the work…Pencil notations on the photos’ reverse sides in Hentschel’s hand ID the images as photos of his mural for Western & Southern.
An obscure but detailed biography of Hentschel published in an exhibition catalog by a defunct Michigan art gallery in the late 80s (Parade of Discovery) contains the best print description of the mural and its installation by Billy and his wife, Alza...The artwork is credited on Hentschel's undated resumes and in a dated brochure for Hentschel's November 30 to December 30, 1951 retrospective exhibition at the J. B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, documents held in the CAM’s archive are also mentioned in Mr. Hentschel’s June 21, 1962 obituary in the Cincinnati Enquirer and an October 14, 1956 Enquirer feature story.
It is my belief that the mural was commissioned by Charles F. Williams and its installation and/or lifespan inside the 4th & Broadway building could have been hampered or halted altogether by the death of Mr. Williams on September 11, 1952…I have talked with a custodian, however, who says he remembers another older coworker talking about the mural and the special tiles in the staircase that connected the lobby with an employee lounge/cafeteria on the 3rd floor.
I cannot imagine the mural was destroyed but, of course, the possibility in 58 years of time exists…If the mural is not still stored in some W&S property it could have been donated to a group or institution or it could have been cut down into smaller and more manageable sizes and sold or distributed.
I’d be grateful for any scrap of information no matter how small regarding this painting.
I look forward to further emails. I’m always available to answer any question you may have…"

--Blogger to Williams spokesperson, April 26, 2009, 10:40 PM

Contradictory statement in an undated, handwritten resume...

"We have checked with all the older guards at W&S that do all the rounds and no one recalls the mural. We have checked with the individual that stores all furniture, etc. and he has no recollection. I'm sorry but we cannot be of any further help."

—Williams spokesperson, April 28, 2009, 11:47 AM

The fountain goal in Joys of Life...

"I appreciate your efforts in pursuing this matter with current W&S employees and simply responding to my inquiries.
My goal is not to be a burden.
Among the small group of people interested in the history, artifacts and people associated with Cincinnati’s Rookwood Pottery, the fact of a Western & Southern mural by William Hentschel is taken for granted as an element of the published record even if no one, it appears, has ever laid eyeballs on it.
The mural’s fate, or its lack of one, will, I assure you, be news to these people.
I talked with a man described to me as a “custodian” who reported having a conversation with “an older custodian” who remembered the stairway and painting.
However, I’ve also talked with a few other older, long-term W&S employees and these people had no memories of stairway or mural.
I perfectly understand that 58 years can be an eternity.
However, the intersection between Cincinnati’s business community and its artistic one over the latter 19th and entire 20th century is of tremendous interest to historians.
Certainly everything I’ve read and heard about Charles F. Williams suggests a man deserving of a wider historical recognition.
An impartial read of the limited public record and a basic knowledge of human motivation suggests the mural commission within a year of Mr. Williams' death was an attempt to leave a more lasting public cultural imprint to survive the unforeseen social, political and business convolutions of the 1950s and 60s…Certainly, Mr. Hentschel felt this way.
I was hoping, with the images I sent, that, in addition to present day employees, you might be able to make inquiries or point me toward younger members of the Williams family who may have some recollection of family lore and artwork…I didn’t expect present day employees to relate in any way to the Art Museum archive images I transmitted to provoke, or “jog” as you wrote, memories in Williams family members or ancient, retired employees or executives.
Additionally, I would be very grateful for access to any material related to the relationship between Mr. Williams and Mr. Hentschel that may still exist in family or company files.
Also, as annual reports tend to showcase artwork and or styles favored by company leaders, I’d be interested in looking at any such material produced by W&S from the 1951 and 52 time periods.
The present published record, while limited, includes Hentschel’s W&S mural among Cincinnati’s artistic treasures.
The mural’s fate, lost or found, for good or ill, should, without speculation, be a part of that record.

—Blogger to Williams spokesperson, April 28, 2009, 2:24 PM, No reply

NOTE--The existance of the Cincinnati Bell mural, identified in news accounts from the 1950s as ceramic, is also in doubt. The mural would have been installed in the 7th Street HQ in downtown Cincinnati. All requests and contact efforts over many years have been rebuffed by Bell company employees with one exception. This employee was happy to assist and volunteered the information that a book had been assembled of Cincinnati Bell's art collection and "given to just about everyone". This employee promised to send a copy of the book to me, he said, "plenty of extra copies" exist but a copy was never forthcoming and repeated calls to this person were not returned.

Images: Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Public Library Newspaper Archive, Flickr, Rachel Davis Fine Arts

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Views of WLWT's Bob Braun Show and Production Manager Lou Rainone in his Crosley Square office in the mid 1970s. In the color image on the right, fill-in band leader Teddy Rakel crosses behind a studio camera.

Images: Private collection

Monday, April 23, 2012

Elephants for Ike

“These elephant bookends, finished in one of the Rookwood Pottery Co’s unique glazes,* will be sent to President Eisenhower Thursday. The elephants, symbol of the Republican Party, contain the signature of the President. They were engraved by Earl Menzel, master potter, who copied the signature from a public document in Washington. The presentation is being made by the pottery firm and the Hamilton County Republican Group.”

--Cincinnati Post, September 21, 1955, printed as photo and cutline on the comics page.

“These [the elephant bookends] are now in the collection of elephant models belonging to Milton Eisenhower.”

--The Book of Rookwood Pottery, 1968

*A glaze so “unique” it goes without a description leaving a black and white photo to suffice.

Image: The Book of Rookwood Pottery, Herbert Peck, Bonanza Books, 1968

Friday, April 20, 2012

'Sphere Melody'

'Sphere Melody', 7 ½ “x 8 ¾ “, 1946, lithograph, William E. Hentschel, Strowbridge Lithography Company, Cincinnati, Ohio

"The artist states that in Sphere Melody he seeks to evoke “that inner music which is stilled until great adversity awakens the trembling heart; at which time the spirit of man, vibrant and aware of its part in the grand universal harmony yearns to be re-attuned to the divine melody, envisioning from the midst of present chaos and despair the Hope for a world which will find Peace and Brotherhood at last.”
William E. Hentschel, born in New York in 1892, is a Kentuckian by adoption, living at Burlington, Kentucky, in the pleasantly restored country-seat known as April Hill Farm. He spent the early years of his career as a designer of textiles and ceramics, working at first in the East and later in Cincinnati where for a number of years he was a noted artist at Rookwood Pottery. At this period began his association as a teacher with the Cincinnati Art Academy which happily continues to the present, during which time he has inspired a generation or so of younger artists.
Mr. Hentschel, like other important modern men of art, has explored the ways and means of various media of expression. His paintings, executed in aquatone, water color, casein, as well as oil, have been widely exhibited not only throughout the United States but also in Europe and Australia. His mural work may best be studied from important examples in Cincinnati."

--Printed text on onion skin cover over the lithograph, itself glued at the top to a gilded paper backing within a red string-bound, greenish-gray construction paper cover.

This handbill for a 1951 retrospective exhibition at Louisville's J.B. Speed Museum lists Strowbridge as the owner of the original painting, 'Sphere Melody', and mentions Hentschel's Western & Southern Mural and a cute tale about April Hill farm.

Images: Cincinnati Art Museum, Private collection

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Mrs. Rachel Henry, who has been creating so much interest among the doctors at the City Hospital, died yesterday.
Although born of colored parents, Mrs. Henry was as white as snow. Her hair and eyebrows were white and her skin was of a chalky whiteness that made her pink eyes especially noticeable. Twelve years ago she came here from Carlisle, Ky., where she was born, and since then she has lived at 28 Whitlow street."

--Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune, September 7, 1900

Image: Cincinnati Public Library Newspaper Archive,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Commercial Billy

Clips from an undated holographic William E. Hentschel resume (c. 1950) in the Cincinnati Art Museum archives.

“Accustomed as is the City of Cincinnati to being the home of a great pottery industry, it will surprise many to find that one of the newest and most interesting glass industries is in the Queen City. This is no ordinary glass industry, but one having at its base an entirely new idea and beauty.
Its very name, crystal bent glass, prepares us for its novel quality.
The great European glass industries like Orrefors and the private makers such as Decorchemont and Marinot have at their back great artists who are highly trained designers; so, too, has crystal bent glass. In the very beginning the organization was fortunate enough to secure the services of one of the great designers of this country, William E. Hentschel, instructor in design at the Cincinnati Art Academy. As a designer Mr. Hentschel has been thinking for years in terms of material; his designs are created so as to bring out the natural beauty of certain mediums.

Original image from Enquirer story with interesting archival staples.
For nearly a year now Mr. Hentschel has been creating and working out the forms and decorations of crystal bent glass, which come in unusual and interesting shapes in the form of clocks, picture frames, desk sets, writing sets, book ends, cigarette sets, table sets, candle sticks and bowls, and other forms innumerable. These are all signed pieces and are remarkable examples of skillful and interesting adaptation of design to glass.
We have seen a large exhibition of these pieces which were assembled for an exhibition in the semi-annual gift show that is now current in Chicago.

Unattributed, unsigned example sold online. Alerted by Commenter MB Hays.


Pieces of crystal bent glass that exploit the beautiful richness and naturalness of glass are the clocks in which subtle qualities of color are obtained by the overlapping of layers of soft sea-green glass, one upon another, such as you may observe in one of the reproductions. The leveled edges produce varied effects and help to bring out and enrich the subtle color of the translucent glass. Parts of the clock itself, such as the hands and numerals of the face, are specially designed to harmonize with the basic form and decoration.

Original Enquirer image with that design's Patent Office submission.

Another example of fine glass design is a large photograph frame in a deep blue of great brilliance, which is the ground for a simple, clear, cut-out polished pattern of circles and lines that have the exquisite quality of a design that is natural to glass.
That translucent quality of some pieces, enriched by the overlaying of one piece upon another, is further enhanced by the application of a mirror back. Lovely variations are secured by this method—also, by the use of different mirror substances such as gold, silver, platinum or bronze; combined with different colored bent glass. Notably attractive is one piece—a photograph frame—made of peach-colored glass which, treated with a mirror back produced a lovely platinum bronze.
We are promised that in the autumn Cincinnati is to have an exhibition of crystal bent glass.”

--Mary L. Alexander, Cincinnati Enquirer, August 9, 1936

Written in Billy's hand on the undated photo’s reverse side:
“W. Hentschel Mirror Frame and Coffee Table
The Nurre Company Designed 15 years ago Coffee table - Lemon wood and glass top – bottom part 2 concave semi-circles Mirror black ebony frame”

The Nurre label (R) was found online.

Images: Cincinnati Art Museum, Ebay, United States Patent and Trademark Office

Sunday, April 15, 2012

'Queen City' Burning

"Another chapter of the romantic history of steamboat and packet traffic on the Ohio River at Cincinnati was closed Saturday with the announcement from Pittsburgh that the Queen City, stern-wheeler, had been burned and junked.

At the time the largest inland drydock in the United States viewed from across the Ohio River in Dayton, Kentucky, the Queen City is visible above the shantyboats on the right side of image.

Built at the old Queen City Marine Ways, foot of Hazen Street, Cincinnati, in 1897, the Queen City gained riverwide fame for the luxury of her appointments and the speed with which she traveled the Ohio’s waters.
Her dismal fate was forewarned seven years ago when her towering stacks, upper cabins, pilot house, rigging and machinery were removed and she was tied up on the Monongahela River at Pittsburgh as a wharf boat.

Once the proudest packet of this section of the Ohio River, she was the favorite of thousands of river travelers, but Friday a mere handful of spectators watched wreckers pull her apart and burn the timbers on the wharf, according to a news dispatch.
Twice during her career she was sold for a fraction of her original $100,000* cost.
Among the hundreds of local rivermen who remember the packet are Capt. Tom Green, president of the Greenline Steamers, foot of Main Street, and Capt. W. C. Beatty, superintendent of the Rookwood River Rail Terminal, 1700 Eastern Avenue, East End. They agree as to the Queen City’s past glory and sketched her career.

The Queen City's main cabin set for dinner.

Captn. Greene recalled that the boat was first owned by the Pittsburgh & Cincinnati Packet Co., which operated her between the two cities until 1916. She was taken out of service and docked at Pt. Pleasant, W. Va., until river ice wrecked many of the packets at Cincinnati during the winter of 1918. The shortage of available hulls recalled her from idleness and she was once more placed in service—this time in the Cincinnati-Louisville trade. In 1932 she was returned to the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh run but was retired as a wharf after approximately a year.
Her first master was Robert Agnew, now a resident of California, Captn. Beatty recalled. Captn. Jim Dupey, one-time master of the old Island Queen, Coney Island Steamer, was also in charge of the Queen City, he said.
Her last master was Captn. Ed Dunaway, Huntington, W. Va., Captn. Greene said.

Although the Queen City was generally considered to have had a comparatively adventureless career, one unusual incident was recalled by Captn. Beatty. It was while on a special trip to the New Orleans Mardi Gras with 135 passengers on board that she tore a hole in her hull by backing on rocks at Louisville. The river was not deep and, although the Queen sank, the water did not cover the boiler deck and not a single passenger received as much as wet feet, he said."

--Cincinnati Times-Star, February 17, 1940

*$100,000 in 1887 dollars would be the equivalent of $2,784,000 today.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Signed, hand painted Scenic Tile, 5 ½ “ square, Roy Hook, Weller artist, painted on a dust-pressed Cambridge Tile Manufacturing Company blank.

The reverse of the scenic tile showing the raised Cambridge block mark and not the later more script-type mark.

Images: private collection

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Chinese Riff

Vanceburg, Ky., June22—Chin Kee, who is suspected of making the murderous attack on Charley Ching Foo in Cincinnati, and who is supposed to be a member of the Tongs, came to this city Tuesday night on C. and O. Train No. 4, and stopped at the Carter House. He registered in his right name, and was assigned to Room No. 39. He arose early Wednesday morning and left on the steamer Greenwood for Portmouth. Kee pawned his watch to the hotel proprietor, Jack Carter, for $1 and a night’s lodging. The watch has his photograph in the case. The timepiece is a splendid gold affair, with chains and a very peculiar charm.

--Cincinnati Enquirer, June 23, 1905


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"A Stupid Botch"

The reverse, Mr. Duveneck and the obverse of the Barber 1892 quarter dollar

“I believe the average carpenter could get up a better design for a coin than that on the new twenty-five cent silver piece” said Mr. Frank Duveneck, the eminent artist, as he twirled one of the new pieces in his fingers with a critical eye. “I never saw such a stupid botch. A South Sea Islander could get up a better design with his eyes shut. The figure on the reverse I take to be ‘Agriculture’ but it is a stupid design and the face so sour and the head so bare as to be repulsive. There is nothing artistic, expressive or attractive about it.
I suppose they have designers connected to the U.S. Treasury, but I do not know what they are about. They rarely get up a good design and now they seem to have reached the climax of ugliness and stupidity. We have some very good, strong artists in the country and some who are noted for their very fine relief work and I do not see why some of our coins can not bear the fruits of their competitive work. There is St. Gaudens for instance. He could get out a design for a coin that would be a thing of beauty and a delight forever.
But our government is very peculiar in some respects and not only restricts the sale of works of art, but does not encourage beautiful faces and designs on coins where they would catch the public eye and educate the public taste for art. The new coin, when its brightness is worn away, will be a tough looking object. But we are a progressive people, in art as well as in other things in life, and it may be that the Government will yet get up some very striking and symmetrical designs for its coins.”
“I am surprised at the design, really,” said L. Schwebel, the artist*, as he gazed at the coin with a peculiar expression. “There is no proportion, no beauty, no expression about the head on the reverse. A child could get up such a design. The obverse with the eagle and stars has a clumsy, crowded appearance and is not striking at all. I think the French coins and medallions have the best designs and far outshine the designs on our own coins.
I suppose the Treasury department has its own artists but their last designs certainly do not show up well. I do not see why our coins can not be beautiful as well as valuable. There should be something about them pleasing to the artistic eye and they should not become the butt of the joker and the foreigner. America takes the lead in many things and she might as well have pretty and finely designed coins as not.”

-Cincinnati Times-Star, January 16, 1892

*Schwebel, Louis [Lewis], Jr. Portrait painter and crayon artist, born in France or Prussia about 1832. He came with his family to Cincinnati [Hamilton] around 1850 and remained active there as an artist and musician until at least 1892…He exhibited portraits at the Cincinnati Industrial Expositions of 1873 and 1875 and in 1892 his Shipwrecked Sailor at Dawn was shown at the Cincinnati Art Club.
Artists in Ohio, 1887-1900, Oberlin College Library


Friday, March 30, 2012

Free Market Elvis

August 17, 1977, Studio B, Crosley Square

One day after the death of Elvis, WLWT interrupts the NBC prime time schedule for an evening of in-house, under contract 16mm Elvis prints, DJ reminisces and locally originated commercials.
Cincinnati AM radio personality Jim LaBarbara, 'The Music Professor', and on-air Elvis special host confers, on set, with the director shortly before the live broadcast.

Station Identification and promotion slide

The cameraman is Armin Aren while Dan Dorsey mans the audio booth.
(Click to enlarge the contact sheet strip)

Images: Private collection

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shantyboaters Darby & Mae Davis watch the Island Queen pass their tied-up shantyboat, visible behind scrub on right, in 1930.

“Another phase of summer began when a calliope was heard, and the excursion steamer, Island Queen, came up around the bend of her first trip to Coney Island from Cincinnati. The dread day was now upon us, for Coney Island lay almost directly across the river. It would be a lively place for the rest of the summer, and the Island Queen would make several trips each day. We resented all the disturbance this would bring with it—noise and lights and the gaudiness of carnival. We feared the spell of the river would be broken.
The Island Queen was one of the last side-wheelers on the river, and the sound of her enclosed wheels, a particular pounding which seemed to rise and fall, brought to mind the old Greenland and Bonanza.

Woodblock print of a shanty and jonboat, Harlan Hubbard, c. 1953

Aside from this and her deep-toned whistle, which had been handed down from an older boat, the Queen had no charms for us. As the days went by, her coming and going bothered us not as much as we expected, and before long she was part of the scheme of things.

The 1920s Cincinnati riverfront from Newport, Kentucky showing a sidewheel steamer, a shanty and jonboats.

The rocking of our boat by her “dead swells” was a nuisance in low water. These long smooth waves continued even after the steamer was tied up. Further off shore they were high rollers, and we sometimes took them in our johnboat [sic] or swam in their path…The Island Queen helped us in an unexpected way. While we never used it as a means of transportation to the city, as we might have, it afforded a novel and pleasant way for some of our guests to come and see us. We would row across to meet them in the johnboat [sic], and later ferry them over again for the return trip. As they waved at us from the upper deck, the Island Queen loomed as large as an ocean liner.”

--‘Shantyboat, A River Way of Life’, Harlan Hubbard, 1953, University Press of Kentucky

Images:, Harry Lemen Collection, Madison-Jefferson County Public Library, 'Shantyboat, A River Way of Life', 1953

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Success in the fine arts did not slow Billy's prolific pace or popularity as a commercial designer; nor did it impair his quest for unique new forms of expression. His designs included intricate and imaginative packages for cosmetic products, furniture designs, a beauty parlor chair for the Marshall Field Company in Chicago and a series of clocks done in bent crystal glass for which he was awarded seven design patents..."

--'Parade of Dicsovery: The Works of William E. Hentschel 1892-1962', Don Wellman, 1987, Duke Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan

Images: Cincinnati Art Museum, United States Patent and Trademark Office

Monday, March 19, 2012

"52 Success Talks on the Logic of Business and Philosophy of Life", Roderick G. Stevens, Series A, Stevens-Davis Co., Chicago, 1921, motivational sales publication tailored to individual businesses, 13 string-bound cardboard pages separated by onion skins watermarked with a spiderweb design, each cardboard page contains 4 hand-glued printed cards.

Celebrating aphorisms no longed held in esteem, the book was presented to an employee with one card. Each pay period a new card to be glued into the book arrived with each individual pay check.

The book and these 4 representatives of the 52 cards within was found at a rummage sale in a Cincinnati, Ohio suburb.
Images: private collection

Friday, March 16, 2012

Watercolor on paper, John Dee Wareham, undated, hand-made greeting card

Image: Cincinnati Art Museum archive

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


“And now, suddenly, he has come into possession of $30,000,000*, nearly half his father’s great estate…He must decide whether he will follow in the footsteps of his father or return to his life of gentleman farmer…A few week’s before the death of his father, young Julius celebrated his twenty-fourth birthday. He is of a retiring nature, never seeks the limelight, dresses plainly and participates little in social affairs…Young Julius has spent most of his time in Cincinnati since graduating from Yale University. He also attended Franklin School in this city and a private school in Connecticut before he went to Yale. He attends services every Sunday at the Unitarian Church in Avondale.”

--Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune, January 2, 1925

“The twin-screw Diesel yacht Camargo, built for Julius Fleischmann of Cincinnati, at a cost of $625,000**, and classed by its designers, Henry J. Gielow, Inc. of New York, as the largest and most costly pleasure craft to be launched in American waters this year, will slide down the ways at the Lawley Yards at Neponset, Boston, Mass., tomorrow morning at 9:30 o’clock…The Camargo is the first clipper stem, straight Diesel ship to be built in this country. Her dimensions are: Length over all, 225 feet; beam, 32 feet, and draught, 14 feet. The Camargo, which has been built at the yards of the George Lawley & Son Corporation at Neponset, is constructed entirely of steel and is powered with two 800-horse-power Bessemer Diesel motors capable of driving her at a speed of fourteen knots an hour…Stateroom accommodations will be provided for fourteen guests. There will be a large dining salon, a living room, smoking room and owner’s private gymnasium with bath.”

--Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune, June 15, 1928

“The 225-foot Diesel yacht, Camargo, will leave New York October 8 bound for Bermuda, the first stop in a two-year cruise around the world. The vessel, owned by Julius Fleischmann, of Cincinnati, is now being fitted out in the Tebo Yacht Basin, Brooklyn…The vessel will sail from Bermuda through the Panama Canal, will visit all of the islands in the South Pacific group from Galapagos to Dutch East Guinea and will cruise in Japanese waters during the winter. From there Camargo will sail through the Red Sea to the Mediteranean [sic] until late fall and will put up for a few months awaiting warmer weather, when she will sail north along the coast of the Continent as far as North Cape.
Early in the fall of 1934 the yacht will start home, arriving in New York again two years from now.”

--Cincinnati Enquirer, September 26, 1931

Cocos Island is an uninhabited spot of jungle in the Pacific, fabled rendezvous of pirates, 500 mi. southwest of Panama. There last week paused the yacht Camargo, carrying Julius Fleischmann, yeast scion, his wife & two small children and three friends on a two-year cruise of the world. To their astonishment the Fleischmann party found signs of life ashore, discovered the abandoned camp of three shipwrecked sailors whose yawl West Wind sailed from San Diego last December. A note stated that the castaways had struck into the interior 48 hr. earlier in search of food because they had exhausted the supply of coconuts near the beach, and that they would return about Nov. 4. The Camargo circled the island, firing her one-pound gun, blowing her whistle, got no response from shore. Then Mr. Fleischmann radioed the U. S. naval base at Balboa, C. Z., whence the gunboat Sacramento was despatched to Cocos Island with medical supplies, a powerful searchlight, equipment for a hazardous search of the island's trackless interior. From Cocos Island the Fleischmann yacht is bound for the Galapagos, Marquezas, Tahiti, Rarotonga, Samoa, Suva, Solomon Islands, New Britain, New Guinea, Timor, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Manila, Bangkok (and a visit to King Prajadhipok), and west via the Arabian Sea and the Suez Canal. In some of the islands Julius Fleischmann will act as a special representative of the U. S. Department of Commerce, drumming up trade and setting an example of usefulness to other yacht-cruisers.”

TIME, People In the News, November 2, 1931

November 1931 magazine and rescued men, (L-R) Gordon Brawner, Springfield, Ill; Paul Stashwick of Huron, S.D., and Earl Palliser of San Diego, Cal.

“A rescue expedition led by Julius Fleischmann, of Cincinnati, yesterday began a trek into the unexplored bush country of the Island of Cocos in the South Seas, according to a radiogram received by Mr. Fleischmann’s secretary last night….The Fleischmann party has among its members men who are qualified for an expedition of the type which was started yesterday. Included in the group is a member of former William Beebe expeditions and a prominent Washington physician…Those who sailed with the Camargo were: Mr. and Mrs. Julius Fleischmann, the boy, Charles (“Skipper”) Fleischmann III; the baby, Dornette Louise Fleischmann; Mr. Berg, photographer and explorer; Dr. Robert Ramsdell, Washington, D.C.; Thomas Keck, Coronado, Calif, lifelong friend of Mr. Fleischmann, and Miss Katherine Rohan, Racine, Wis., classmate of Mrs. Fleischmann at Smith College…The wire which was received from Mr. Fleischmann last night follows:


The rest of the wire instructed his secretary, Miss Alice McNamara, to notify organizations that would be interested in the search.”

--Cincinnati Enquirer, October 24, 1931

“The palatial yacht of Julius Fleischmann, Cincinnati capitalist, on which he made several trips around the world and which figured in a sensational rescue of three men marooned on a South Sea Island in 1931, has been sold, it was disclosed in Cincinnati Tuesday.
The yacht “Camargo” was purchased by General Rafael Trujillo Molina, former president of Dominican Republic, a report from the Maritime Commission stated.”

--Cincinnati Times-Star, August 15, 1939

Julius Fleischmann (L) at the Camargo IV christening, Aalsmeer, Holland, 1961

“In 1928 she embarked with her husband and two small children around the world on the 225 foot yacht, Camargo 1, carrying the flag of the New York Yacht Club. While in the South Pacific, they created the maps and descriptions used by the U.S. government in the attacks on many of the Japanese held islands in World War II.”

--Washington Post, obituary, Dorette Kruse Fleischmann, March 4, 1994

“A wealthy, shadowy cold war operative named Julius "Junkie" Fleischmann… was a major player in the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom, which helped to launch and sustain the London-based intellectual journal Encounter in 1953. In The Cultural Cold War, [Francis] Stonor Saunders refers to him as "the CIA's most significant single front-man."

--The Nation, book review ‘George Being George’, February, 2009

*$30,000,000 equals $369,900,398.68 in 2010 dollars
**$625,000 is equal to $7,880,178.01 in 2010 dollars
Images: Cincinnati Public Library Newspaper Archive, De Vries Shipbuilding, 'Footsteps in the Sea', Julius Fleischmann, 1935,