James   Merritt   Ives

(5 March 1824 - 3 January 1895)

Nathaniel   Currier

(27 March 1813 - 20 November 1888)

Currier   and   Ives

(1834 - 1907)

American lithographer, bookkeeper, and businessman. He oversaw the business and financial side of the firm, Currier and Ives, which he co-managed with his business partner, Nathaniel Currier.

Ives was born in New York City, New York. His father worked as the superintendent of Bellevue Hospital in New York City. A self-trained artist, Ives's art education included visits to art galleries and the Astor Library. Although he went to work at the age of twelve, he continued his art education on his own.

On 24 June 1846, he married Caroline Clark (1827-1896). The couple had six children: two sons and four daughters. Caroline was the sister-in-law of Nathaniel Currier's brother, Charles Currier. Charles recommended Ives to Nathaniel, who hired him as a bookkeeper in 1852, for his firm, N. Currier, Lithographer.

It soon became apparent that Ives' talent as an artist and artistic knowledge gave him valuable insight into what the public wanted, and his skills in business and marketing contributed significantly to the growth of the company. Ives helped to improve and modernize Currier's bookkeeping methods, reorganize the firm's inventory, and streamline production methods. In 1857, Currier offered Ives a full partnership in the firm, now called Currier and Ives, and made the younger man the general manager. In his new position Ives helped Currier interview potential artists and craftsman, and select images that the firm would publish. It was Ives who encouraged production of the idealized images of daily middle class American life that made the firm so successful.

The firm of Currier and Ives was known for its popular and affordable art prints of subjects such as winter scenes, landscapes, sporting events, ships, and icons of 19th century life. These prints are still widely sought after by collectors today. Ives worked over forty years at the firm until his death in Rye, NY in 1895. He is buried in Greenwood-Cemetery, New York. After Ives's death, his sons and Currier's sons continued to manage the firm until it was liquidated in 1907.

The Partnership with Ives:

The name Currier & Ives first appeared in 1857, when Currier invited James Merritt Ives (1824-1895), the company's bookkeeper and accountant, to become his partner. James Merritt Ives, who was born on March 5, 1824 in New York City, married Caroline Clark in 1852. She was the sister-in-law of Nathaniel's brother, Charles Currier, and it was Charles who recommended James Ives to his brother. Nathaniel Currier soon noticed Ives's dedication to his business and his artistic knowledge and insight into what the public wanted. The younger man quickly became the general manager of the firm, handling the financial side of the business by modernizing the bookkeeping, reorganizing inventory, and streamlining the print process. Ives also helped Currier interview potential artists and craftsmen. The younger man had a flair for gauging popular interests and aided in selecting the images the firm would publish and expanding the firm's range to include political satire, and sentimental scenes such as sleigh rides in the country and steamboat races. In 1857, Currier made Ives a full partner.

References & External links:

Image of James Ives at the Library of Congress
History of the Firm

Currier and Ives Civil War lithographs

Known railroad related lithographs of Currier and Ives

Currier and Ives: Perspectives on America, American Public Television [aptonline.org]

High Water in the Mississippi, Fanny Palmer

The Henry Ford Collections" Hfmgv.org
"The History of Currier & Ives"
The Currier and Ives Foundation, "The history of Currier & Ives"
" The Enduring Appeal of Currier and Ives Prints"
"Currier and Ives: An American Panorama"
Biography at answers.com
"The Old Print Shop"
James Merritt Ives (1824-1895) [oldprintshop.com]
Encyclopædia Britannica
"Ohio University News and Information" [Ohio.edu]
Currier and Ives: Popular Masters of 19th Century Lithography" [nytimes.com]
Currier & Ives: Printmakers to the People, The Philadelphia Print Shop [philaprintshop.com]
The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages, Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People
The Columbia Encyclopedia
" Currier and Ives Lithographic Value Guides" [Currierprints.com]
Civil War Lithographs [Commons.wikimedia.org]
Known Railroad-Related Lithographs [coxrail.com]
Online Gallery of Currier & Ives Prints
A Gallery of Currier and Ives Lithographs
Library of Congress
Behind the Scenes: The Artists Who Worked for Currier and Ives
Currier and Ives Tradecards
Currier and Ives, Perspectives on America
        Institute of Museum and Library Services
        Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Smithsonian Archives of American Art
Archives of American Artworks | Smithsonian Institution
Napoleon Sarony (182-1896), American Lithographer and Photographer.

James Merritt Ives (1824-1895) [avictorian.com]


View work: James Merritt Ives
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Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888) [avictorian.com]


View artist's work: Nathaniel Currier
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