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The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Historical Prints

Spanish American War, 1898
American Philippine War, 1899-1902


Though relatively unfamiliar to many Americans, the Spanish American War played a huge role in the determining the course of American history in the first part of the twentieth century. It established the United States as a world power, set a jingoistic tone for our foreign policy, and gained for the country an foreign empire. The war was at least partly started by public enthusiasm spurred by the press and popular prints played a significant role in informing the Americans about the war and shaping public perception.

The acquisition of an empire proved, however, a mixed blessing for the United States, for within six months the Americans were at war with their former allies, the Filipino insurgents. This guerilla war proved brutal and difficult, dragging on for three years until it was officially declared over in July 1902.

GoGo to a brief history of these wars

Spanish American War

Battle of Santiago
S. G. Sebry. "The Naval Battle of Santiago." Boston: James Drummond Ball, 1898. 22 x 42. Chromolithograph. Large margins. Five inch tear, expertly repaired, into image on right hand side. Otherwise, very good condition. With portraits of American and Spanish captains in the bottom margin. With a photocopy of original advertisement for the print.

When was declared against Spain in 1898, Spain's Caribbean Squadron had taken refuge in the harbor of Santiago, Cuba. United States was worried of this fleet raiding the North American coast or endangering the American invasion forces bound for Cuba. Under the Command of Maj. General Williams Shafter, 15,000 American soldiers landed near Santiago and fought the Battles of El Caney and San Juan Hill. With the capture of Santiago by the Americans, Admiral Pascual Cervera and his Spanish Fleet were now within range of American artillery fire, and he considered their position in danger. On July 3 the Spanish Squadron attempted to escape the harbor which was being blockaded by the American Fleet commanded by Admiral Sampson. The Spanish fleet was no match for the American five battleships and two armored cruisers. The campaign was a huge triumph for the modern United States Navy. This print, designed as a panorama to show the scope of the engagement, was issued not long after the battle. Names for both the American and Spanish ships are indicated. Below the image in the bottom margin are numerous oval portraits of the American and Spanish captains of the ships that took part in the battle. This print was originally issued in two editions. One an Artist Proof which was offered on canvas and other the Regular Proof Edition. This print is the latter edition. A copy of the advertisement for the print accompanies this print. A very dramatic and stirring view of the battle. $850

X. Smith: Destruction of Cervera's Fleet
Xanthus Russell Smith. "The Destruction of Cervera's Fleet at Santiago de Cuba July 3rd 1898." Philadelphia, Joseph Hoover and Son, 1898. Chromolithograph. Minor water stains in sea and stains in sky from old slat backings. With an inset of Capt. Schley.

This print is after the renowned maritime painter Xanthus Rusell Smith. Born in Philadelphia, the son of painters Williams Russell Smith and Mary Priscilla Wilson, Smith was educated at home and was given drawing lessons as well. He accompanied his family on several trips to Europe. Smith studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and served in the US Navy in the Civil War during the blockade of Charleston Harbor. While there, he sketched many ships. Following the war, he painted large Civil War engagements most notably of the Kearsarge and Alabama, Assault on Fort Fisher, North Carolina and the Monitor and the Merrimac. Smith lived and died in the house his father built, "Edgehill," in Glenside, PA.

The scene shows the USS Brooklyn and other ships destroying the inferior Spanish ships in the battle of Santiago. The Brooklyn was an armored cruiser which served as flagship of the "Flying Squadron" during the Spanish-American War and played a major role in the Battle of Santiago. The Flying Squadron, under the command of Winfield Schley was comprised of the battleships Texas, Massachusetts, armored cruiser Brooklyn, and several other cruisers and support craft.

After 1898, Brooklyn's tours of duty included cruises to European and Asiatic waters, as well as operating closer to home. Inactive from 1908 to 1915, she then returned to service in time for World War I, and thereafter spent most of her time in the Pacific. Decommissioned in March 1921, Brooklyn was sold late in that year. $600

Prints by Kurz & Allison Chicago, 1898-99. Chromolithographs. Very good condition, except as noted.

The Chicago firm of Kurz & Allison is well known for its production of commemorative prints of American historical scenes. Founded in 1885, the firm's avowed purpose was to design "for large scale establishments of all kinds, and in originating and placing on the market artistic and fancy prints of the most elaborate workmanship." Elaborate they certainly were- the majority of their prints being bright and dramatic, with action throughout the image. Drawn in a broad, graphic style that developed from Kurz's background as a muralist, these prints have a striking appearance that makes them not only interesting historical images but also excellent decorative prints. While their Civil War prints are probably the most famous, their images of the Spanish American war were issued contemporaneously with the events, part of public fascination with this "splendid little war."

Prints from The United States Army and Navy. Akron, Ohio: Werner Company, 1899. Chromolithographs. Ca. 9 1/4 x 13 1/4. Very good condition.

Images from a fine series of prints illustrating the history and the uniforms of the American Army and Navy, from the American Revolution to the Spanish American War. Each print captures in detail the various types of uniforms worn by each service and by rank.



American Philippine War

Off to WarSpacerHome From War

"Off to The War" and "Home From The War." 1903. Chromolithographs. Each ca. 17 x 13. Some wear and chipping in margins.

Pairs of popular prints on the theme of a soldier heading off to war and then returning appeared in this country as early as the Mexican-American War. This pair appeared at the end of the Philippine-American War. $350


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©The Philadelphia Print Shop Last updated July 14, 2021