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  M & S Library Number: 25403
 

    (MASSACHUSETTS). L. PRANG & CO. The Great Elm on Boston Common. Destroyed February 15, 1876. Lithograph, L. Prang & Co. Image & Printed Message on Spurr?s Papered Veneer-Wood Made from the Tree, Signed by Samuel C. Cobb, Mayor of Boston. March 31, 1876. Lithographed area including tree image 6.5" x 11.25". Unframed. Image in excellent condition. $425.00

     

        Rare souvenir lithograph of a famous elm on Boston Common, made from an earlier photograph, of which we can find only three other copies. A great elm stood on Boston Common from early times until 1876, when it was destroyed by a huge gale. Its rings were examined in 1876, and its age found to be about 220 years--which would date the tree to about 1656. The "Great Elm" was a popular tourist stop in the 1800s, and was often referred to as Boston's "Oldest Inhabitant."

         This lithograph, by Louis Prang, on a paper veneer of wood bark, purportedly wood from the tree itself, shows the tree surrounded by a wrought iron fence. Below the image is a message from Samuel C.(Crocker) Cobb (1826-1891), then Mayor of Boston. "As the Great Elm on Boston Common, with an age in years outdating the settlement of the Town, was destined to fall...under my guardianship...I can no less than... certify...that this is a perfectly correct view of it...and the surface on which the photograph is presented is a veneer from the wood of the veritable and venerable tree. March 31, 1876. Samuel C. Cobb."

         Louis Prang (1824-1918) was an outstanding lithographer, wood engraver, educator and prolific publisher in the latter decade of the 19th century. In 1860 Prang established the firm of L. Prang & Co. and 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 and in 1867,  established a model printing plant in Roxbury. 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.

 

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