Author Arthur Tobias forward the following announcement of his new book relating to W.L. Ormsby, author of one of the rarest books in U.S. numismatic Literature, Bank Note Engraving".
COLT CYLINDER SCENES begins with an in-depth look at W.L. Ormsby’s working methods in light of early 19th century engraving practice. The transition from currency design to the rolling of revolver cylinders is detailed. The rest of the book examines the three major cylinder Scenes that Ormsby created for Sam Colt’s percussion revolvers. The history of each Scene, its inspiration, and Ormsby’s working methods are covered in depth. Changes in the Colt use of Ormsby’s Scenes are traced to a particular series of incidents in the engraver’s professional life in the mid-1850s. Modern copies of the cylinder Scenes are illustrated, as well as methods for detecting their fraudulent use.
As much as this book is about Ormsby’s designs for Colt, it is also about how that work was the outgrowth of the engraver’s broader range of training and work, to include popular prints such as the Declaration of Independence, a copy of which hangs in the White House, as well as the familiar currency work. Several never-before-published images are used, including Ormsby’s watercolor and ink original of the Naval Engagement Scene, and the 1841 lithographic image of Comanches fighting by George Catlin, that makes its way into the Texas Rangers and Comanches Fight Scene.
Art Tobias adds:
In my book I make the argument that while virtually all Ormsby's currency work was a product of the 19th century version of clip art made possible by the transfer press, for Samuel Colt he created all new imagery much like the unit system he unsuccessfully proposed in BANK-NOTE ENGRAVING.
Texas Rangers cylinder Scene
The Catlin color lithograph from Ormsby's 1841-London-published book NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS
I'll look forward to seeing the book and reading more about Ormsby's career and work.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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