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Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co.

Ehrgott & Forbriger


From the 1820s to 1840s, lithographic print publishers became well established in most large eastern cities in the United States, but the growing populations and economies of cities further west soon created enough of a market for new lithographic firms to be started west of the Appalachians. Cincinnati was one of the first western cities to develop its own thriving lithographic industry and one of its most important firms was that founded by Peter E. Ehrgott and Adolphus F.Forbriger in 1856. Ehrgott and Forbriger ran one of the most ambitious and creative lithographic firms in the mid-west, for instance introducing the first steam press west of New York City in 1868. Their output was typical of American lithographic firms, though they tended to specialize in historic prints during the Civil War.

Civil War portraits

A series of uncolored lithographs of Civil War politicians and officers. Cincinnati: Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co., ca. 1862. Folio, ca. 12 1/2 x 9 1/2. Lithographs by Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. Very good condition.

Perhaps in late 1861, but certainly by mid-1862, Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. began to issue a series of portraits of Civil War figures: politicians as well as military and naval officers. These prints, which the firm continued to issue at least as late as 1864, were in many ways similar to the portraits issued by other firms such as Currier & Ives, however these Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. are quite unlike the prints by other publishers in one salient feature.

FranklinFremont As discussed in Milt Kaplan's "Heads of States," (Winterthur Portfolio 6. Charlottesville, 1970 Pp. 135-150.) prints of different figures share the same, or very similar backgrounds, with the identical horses, landscapes, troops, ships, desks, and so forth. [Cf. illustrations of Gens. Franklin (left) and Fremont (right)] While some of the backgrounds the firm used appear only in one print, others are shared by between three and five figures, and one has as many as seven different generals sharing it. Overall, the firm issued seventy-nine different prints of sixty-nine different Union politicians and officers. The Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. prints were issued separately for those in the mid-west who wanted to have these images of Union heroes and they have also been found in bound portfolios. However they are found, they are very rare and a fascinating part of Civil War history. For further information, see Mark E. Neely Jr. & Harold Holzer's The Union Image: Popular Prints of the Civil War North. (Chapel Hill, 2000.)



Benj. Butler



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