A Collection of Historic Proportions – Fig Fall 2018

Sharing the history of Lancaster County is at the heart of LancasterHistory.org’s mission. From porcelain plates to portraits to priceless furniture, LancasterHistory.org’s historic collections have thousands of items that tell the story of Lancaster County.

In the paragraphs below, we’ll give you more in-depth information about each of the historic artifacts featured in our advertisement in the Fig Magazine Fall issue.

Collection of images of historic artifacts that appeared in LancasterHistory.org's Fig Magazine fall advertisement.

Items are numbered above but generally follow a top to bottom, left to right pattern.

1. Copy of A Portrait of James Buchanan by William E. McMaster
Object ID #2018.004
c. 1856/1857

Many visitors may be familiar with the prominent portrait of President Buchanan that has hung above the mantle in the west parlor at Wheatland since 1945. As Museum Educator Stephanie Townrow explains:

[The] portrait was painted by the artist William E. McMaster, who spent three weeks in residence at Wheatland in the summer of 1856 creating the painting from life. McMaster made this painting for his own collection of notable figures, a lifelong practice of his. Upon his death, the painting was bequeathed to McMaster’s wife, who sold it in 1892 to Buchanan’s brother Edward. It made its way to our museum in 1945, when Edward’s great-granddaughter gave it to the James Buchanan Foundation.

However, what many visitors may not know is that McMaster painted a rare copy of Buchanan’s portrait while Buchanan was president. When members of the Empire Club of New York were unable to purchase McMaster’s original of Buchanan, they paid McMaster to produce a copy of it for them for a sum of $1,000. After Buchanan’s election, the copy was moved to Washington and hung in the rotunda of the Capitol Building. The painting then made its way into sportsman/philanthropist Alexander Smith Cochran’s portrait collection in 1915.

Thanks to the generosity of the Richard C. von Hess Foundation, McMaster’s copy of Buchanan has now joined its original at LancasterHistory.org. For the first time in history, the two portraits are together. As of August 22, the original Buchanan portrait can be see in Castagna Gallery in LancasterHistory.org’s main building and the copy is taking a proud turn above the mantle in the west parlor at Wheatland. Want more in-depth information about the copy, check out Stephanie Townrow’s blog entry, “McMaster’s Masterpieces.”

2. Silver Teapot and Sugar Bowl
Object ID #2004.001.1 (teapot) and #2004.001.2 (bowl)
1790 – 1805

This silver teapot and sugar bowl are hand-forged in a neo-classical design with, in the case of the teapot, a wooden handle. Engraved on the teapot is “AMR,” the initials of its owner, Adam and Mary Reigart, Jr.

Adam Reigart, Jr. (1765-1844) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  He was the eldest son of Col. Adam Reigart, owner of the Grape Tavern which served as general headquarters during the Revolutionary War.  Adam Reigart, Jr. founded the Reigart Wine Store in 1785 and was in business with Philip Wager and Philip’s son Peter in Philadelphia throughout Reigart’s career. He was the first president of the Lancaster branch of the Bank of Pennsylvania, and was involved with the Conestoga Navigation Company and the Union Fire Company.

Adam Reigart, Jr. married Mary Magdalena Wager (1772-1806) in 1791.  Mary was the daughter of Philip Wager, a Philadelphia wine merchant. Together, they had eight daughters and one son.

3. Sewing Chest
Object ID #95.47.1
Wood, Paint

Made by Joseph Lehn (1798-1892), the sewing chest has turnip feet and floral and grape design. Joseph Lehn, after an unsuccessful career as a farmer, started a barrel-making shop in his bar. As his skills grew, Joseph began to turn and paint a variety of wooden articles which were purchased by stores for sale. Business flourished until 1886 when blindness forced Lehn to cease production of his woodenware. The blindness was temporary, and two years later he regained partial vision and occasionally turned a few pieces. After his death, no one in his family continued the tradition of woodenware. Lehn has since been recognized as an outstanding PA craftsman and folk artist (Source: “Joseph Lehn–Woodturner” by Gary P. Bell. December 1967.)

This particular piece was owned by Matilda Erb nee Lane and later, Matilda’s niece, Cameron E. Lane.

4. A Feuillet China Plate
Object ID #98.3

This beautiful china plate features gold edging, pink borders, and an idyllic country scene with a prominent sunflower. The plate is one piece of the set of James Buchanan’s White House china that he acquired while Secretary of State (1845-1848) from the French Ambassador to the United States. A majority of the Feuillet china is on display in the dining room in Wheatland.

5. RCA’s Emmy Award for the Image Orthicon Tube and Camera
Object ID #2010.026.1

The iconic “Emmy” is awarded to those who are recognized for their excellence in the television industry. The awards are given by three separate but related organizations: the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), and the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (IATAS). 

This particular Emmy was awarded by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) to the Radio Corporation of America—more commonly known as RCA—for the development of the 4.5 inch image orthicon tube and camera. (Emmys were also awarded to the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company and the English Electric Valve Company for their work on the image orthicon tube and camera as well.)

Lancaster RCA was located in what is today known as Burle Business Park on New Holland Avenue. At the plant, RCA manufactured radio, microwave, and color television tubes as well as a variety of tubes and cameras that were employed in outer space (such as a camera that served as a satellite’s eye in 1975).

The image orthicon tube is intertwined with the creation of the iconic Emmy award. “Immy” was a commonly used term for the image orthicon tube used in early camera. “Immy” was later feminized to “Emmy” to fit the feminine statuette.

6. Miniature Portraits of Sarah and Jasper Yeates
Object ID #2017.006.1

Jasper Yeates (1745-1817) was the most eminent lawyer in Lancaster before the Revolutionary War. Born in Philadelphia, he attended the College of Philadelphia and was admitted tot he practice of law in Pennsylvania in 1765. He set up his practice in Lancaster.

Sarah Shippen Burd (January 1, 1748/9 – October 25, 1829) was the daughter of James Burd and his wife Sarah Shippen, and was a granddaughter of Edward Shippen and Sarah Plumley. Yeates married Sarah on December 30, 1767 and they later lived at a home on South Queen Street in Lancaster City. Together, they had ten children, five of which would die in infancy.

Jasper was one of a central group of individuals who gave shape to the Patriot cause during the Revolution War in Lancaster, serving on the Committee of Correspondence and the Committee of Observation and Inspection. As the chair of the Committee of Safety, he was responsible for recruitment, collection of arms and war supplies, and for the safety of the county.

Later, Jasper served as a delegate from Lancaster County to the 1787 convention which ratified the Federal Constitution. He was Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania from 1791 to his death in 1817. He is buried in the St. James Episcopal Church graveyard.

7.  First part of the Reports of Sr. George Croke Kt. Late one of the justices of the court of King’s bench and formerly one of the justice.
Law Book owned by Jasper Yeates

Jasper Yeates’ law library consists of 1,043 volumes that he himself purchased—some from abroad and some from printers in the colonies. The books were useful as the young country gave up the use of the law of the King and transitioned to its own laws and statues, based on English law.

The library remained in Yeates’ home until the death of his daughter Catharine in 1866, whose will requested the library be undisturbed and “that ten dollars a year be given to some person interested in the family to dust the books throughout once a year…” The books were given to the Lancaster Law Library Association and were housed in the Lancaster Court House. At a later date, the collection was transferred to the care of LancasterHistory.org where it resides to this date in the Coley Rare Book Room in the Library.

8. Baptismal certificate (taufschein) for Elisabetha Elser
Object ID #2017.999.1

This hand drawn, lettered, and colored Fraktur baptismal certificate (taufschein) was created for Elisabetha Elser. The symmetrical, horizontal design is attributed to the anonymous “Ehre Vater” artist who is known to have created many Fraktur throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.

Text in the center reads that Elisabetha Elser was born in Warwick Township in Lancaster County on November 19, 1803. Her parents were Peter Elser and wife Elisabetha Elser nee Wachter. The baptism was given by Pastor Schulz and the sponsors were George Wachter and his wife Margaretha (believed to be a sister of Peter Elser). Below are two lines of religious verse, translated: “A heart that loves Jesus knows no worries — much cross, need and pain are his days of joy.”

9. Ten-tune Musical Tall Case Clock
Object ID #P.92.02

A centerpiece of Gerhart Gallery at LancasterHistory.org is this 8-day, ten-tune musical tall case clock by Mennonite Christian Eby of Manheim. Housed in a large, inlaid cherry case attributed to Emanuel Dyer, the case is combination of Chippendale and Federal styles. The Federal style is more present, however, due to the inlay of eagle and floral motifs on tympanum, quarter fan inlays, floral inlay on waist section, and a patera centered on the base within a cartouche of line inlay.

The clock features a white painted iron dial with Roman numerals on chapter ring. Above the lunar dial are ten names of tunes played by the musical works. The dial is attributed to the Reading, Pennsylvania area due to a dark moon wheel, and the two hemispheres for the moon phase are identical. The interior clockworks feature brass-clad weights which are very unusual, and usually an English practice.

Want to hear the clock? Check out this short video of one of its tunes.

10. Chest of Drawers
Object ID# G.92.06
c. 1775

If you’ve visited our main gallery–Groff Gallery–at LancasterHistory.org, you’ve no doubt seen this magnificent Chippendale high chest. Made from mahogany and ornately carved in the Philadelphia-inspired Rococo style, this chest of drawers was owned by Matthias Slough (1733-1812), tavernkeeper of the White Swan in Lancaster. The top of the chest of drawers is probably the most awe-inspiring. It features a scrolled, broken arch pediment with a central cartouche, attributed to Philadelphia carver Martin Jugiez, and a fully relief-carved vine tympanum. Fine features and attention to detail set this piece apart.

11. Portrait of Lydia Steele Bailey by Jacob Eichholtz
Object ID# 1930.026.3

Lydia Steele Bailey (1779-1869) was native to Lancaster County but moved to Philadelphia once she married. After her husband Robert died in 1808, Lydia took over his floundering printing business and turned it into a very successful printshop. She gained many government contracts and, from 1834 through the mid-1850s, Lydia served as the official City Printer of Philadelphia. Through her printing business, Lydia found a source of freedom.

We hoped you enjoyed this brief glimpse into the collections at LancasterHistory.org! We encourage you to visit us at our main location, just outside Lancaster City, at 230 North President Avenue. We’re open Monday – Saturday, 9:30am – 5pm, and offer tours of Wheatland–on the hour–from 10am – 3pm.

You can also do research and look at our collections online at https://www.lancasterhistory.org/research/.

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