1874: The Society Starts to Branch Out in its Collecting

The year 1874 was a busy year for the Society with a flurry of activity surrounding the resignation of its first and much-respected President, the Honorable Willard Hall, and his replacement by Dr. Henry F. Askew.  At the same time, the Society also was continuing to chart its own course in defining (and re-defining) the what and how of collecting and preserving Delaware history going forward.

The minutes of the meeting for September10, 1874 report that “the standing committee on the library reported a communication from Mr. William Dowe, Librarian, in which he stated that the work of cataloguing the books and relics is progressing favorably and that he hopes to present a complete catalogue at the next Annual Meeting.” Up until this point, the Society had primarily focused on collecting library and archival materials, and had only accepted a relatively small number of traditional “historical relics” on the object front.  This year they followed suit again with the addition of a Lafayette memorial ribbon, but also for the first time accepted a painting of a local scene by a local artist.

The painting of ice skaters on the Brandywine by Henry Price was formally accepted for the collection at the meeting of April 9, 1874 as a gift from the artist through Dr. Lewis Potter Bush. It was only the third painting to enter the collection overall, the previous two being portraits.  The artist, Henry Price (1837-1912), was a Wilmington native and son of Joseph T. and Matilda Sanderson Price. He was also related to the early Brandywine milling family of Joseph Tatnall (1740-1813) through his paternal grandmother, Margaret Tatnall Starr Price (1767-1841). Henry’s family lived at 1301 Market Street in Wilmington and he resided there until around 1870, when he relocated to Philadelphia.

Ice Skaters on the Brandywine, circa 1865, by Henry Price
Ice Skaters on the Brandywine, circa 1865, by Henry Price

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