Sinclair and Son

Letter from Sinclair & Son to Charles D. Walcott. Credit: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record U

2.	Dolly Varden, words by Frank W. Green ; music by Alfred Lee. Philadelphia : Lee & Walker, between Here’s another great letterhead from the collections of the Smithsonian Institution Archives. This one is from Sinclair & Son, a prominent Philadelphia lithographer since the 1830s. Some representative copies of the sheet music they printed can be found at the University of Pennsylvania. Back to the letterhead—in the large graphic, an artist contemplates a phantasmagorical ancient skeleton with two sets of tusks and front paws attached to its thighs. (Readers of a certain age will be reminded of Howdy Doody’s sidekick, Flub-a-Dub) Below, a vignette reveals the artist’s recreation—a peevish elephantine creature with upside down tusks, a double trunk, and what look like architectural elements sprouting from its head!

Detail of Letter from Sinclair & Son to Charles D. Walcott (click to enlarge), Smithsonian Instituti The letter was written in 1881 to Charles Walcott, the brilliant geologist who would become Secretary of the Smithsonian in 1907. Sinclair & Son was working on one of Walcott’s early publications.

In 1909, while in the Canadian Rockies near Field, British Columbia, Charles Doolittle Walcott (1850 As well as the wonderful graphics, the letterhead presents a little mystery—doesn’t the illustration seem oddly specialized for a company serving a wide range of clients? Wouldn’t a lithographer at work be a choice with more universal appeal?  This makes me wonder—did the Sinclair & Son produce custom letterheads for correspondence with important clients? And did Walcott fall of his chair laughing when he saw what they’d conjured up for him?

Leave a Comment

Produced by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. For copyright questions, please see the Terms of Use.