Page 69b3214 Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
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More important Canadian antique memorabilia the Museum has preserved.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A fabulous original photogravure of Sir John A Macdonald, from an original, done in 1886, by esteemed Canadian painter Andrew Dickson Patterson (1854-1930).

This has a very large and heavy frame.

It still has its original backing, and very wavy glass and, though the matte is showing slight staining, the photogravure is immaculate.

The photogravure is initialed ADP 1886, and is the same size as the other print below, just more massively framed.

This photogravure would have been displayed in this rich, multi-part frame, with high-end matting, in a good home or in better establishments, bars, and more prosperous brothels, like those catering to media barons, bishops, or upper echelon civil servants on expense accounts.

Whatever John A's eyes have seen, he's not talking...

The whole thing is in very good shape for being 120 years old.

Photogravure is an intaglio printmaking process that prints photographic images which have been mechanically and chemically deeply etched on to a flat copper plate.

The plate is inked manually and each print is individually printed by hand. All the prints on this page were personally hand printed by a craftsman. So the process is cumbersome and costly.

The process was pioneered in the 1830s to produce photographic prints that did not fade. Photogravures feature a rich image with a wide variety of tones.

Framed Photogravure of Sir John A Macdonald - Andrew Dickson Patterson, 1886
Orig. photogravure and frame - Window frame - 56 x 71 Image Size - 37 x 52 cm
Found - Brantford, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Another fabulous original photogravure of Sir John A Macdonald, from an original by esteemed Canadian painter Andrew Dickson Patterson (1854-1930) done in 1886.

It is still in its original frame, backing, and very wavy glass and, though the matte is showing slight staining, the photogravure is immaculate.

The frame is somewhat smaller and lighter than the earlier one.

The photogravure is signed ADP 1886 and is the same size as the one above.

This photogravure would have been displayed in this simpler frame, and less ornate matting, in a slightly less well-to-do home, rural bars, and cheaper brothels, like those catering to pensioners, laid off cab drivers, and retired priests.

Still, John A is not talking...

The whole thing is in very good shape for being 120 years old.

Both fabulous pieces of history you have an impossible time trying to get in this near mint condition.

Both prints, though they have led separate lives, in all extremes of heat, humidity, and light, over 120 rough years, are totally identical in degree of fading. Neither shows any, unlike watercolours that old, or the many photomechanical reproductions in calendars, and pictures you commonly see that have been exposed to light after even twenty or thirty years.

Which is exactly why photogravure process was invented and continues to be used today to produce high quality art images.


Framed Photogravure of Sir John A Macdonald - Andrew Dickson Patterson, 1886
Orig. photogravure and frame - Window frame - 47 x 64 Image Size - 37 x 52 cm
Found - Burlington, ON
Photogravure by Goupil & Cie
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Cast Iron Plaque, Sir John A Macdonald, c 1880
Orig. cast iron - Size - 20 x 23 cm; wt 1 kg
Found - Napanee, ON

A fabulous metal plaque of Canada's first Prime Minister, John A Macdonald.

This heavy cast iron piece is still in its original paint and was once proudly displayed in a Conservative Victorian home, suspended by an imbedded steel loop.

These cast iron memorabilia items were for poorer people, ideal for hanging in log cabins, shacks, or unruly roadside bars, instead of the fragile pictures found in better establishments that did not fare well with the rowdy Canadian clientele - you must know Rosie and Christie - they hosted.

These heavy metal plaques were great in drunken fights, which were frequent in Victorian pioneer Canada. They could be thrown across the room, bounce off the wall, and be hung back up, being none of the worse for wear... Any drunk, hit with its solid 1 kg punch would sober up in a hurry...

The fancy classes had the Victorian Canada's top sculptors create works of art for displaying in upper class houses, hotels, and finer business establishments. These plaster statues and busts are now very rare to find in any condition.

Go to Statues of Prime Ministers

Which is why a lot of fakes are about...

Go to Fake Statues of Prime Ministers
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Sir John A Macdonald, by Louis-Philippe Hébert - 1886
Orig. plaster statue - Size - 75 cm, wt 7.3 kg
Found - Cambridge, ON
Signed Philippe Hébert

Absolutely fabulous and rare...

from Canada's top Victorian sculptor

Go to Philippe Hébert




















This print is antique. It has its original wavy glass, and is in mint condition, in a frame that is at least 100 years old.

Up close, under a loupe, all three John A black and white pictures we show here are called "original prints" as they were each, created by a worker who individually inked the plate, rubbed the ink into the crevices on the plate with the palm of his hand, and then applied the paper, running it through a press to transfer the inked image. Then he would re-ink the plate and do it again.

There are no dots, to be seen in these fabulous photogravures, like in later photomechanically printed "reproductions."

Below the Bengough Macdonald eye, immediately above; the Patterson Macdonald eye top; the Queen Victoria eye from a repro cabinet card photo.

These two "original prints" left are valuable and desirable. You are actually looking at the actual inked surface of an individual print, each one of which will vary slightly, from others made afterwards from the same copper plate after it is re-inked between individual pressings.

All photomechanical reproductions, which in close up, all look like Queen Victoria's eye right, and which includes 99% of all the pictures published in modern times, have dots. They are not considered all that desirable or valuable.

There are just too many of them around, like the hundreds of thousands of Robert Bateman reproductions...

If you're fed up with all the dupes, you can find all kinds of other John A memorabilia around...










Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A fabulous historic antique photogravure of Sir John A Macdonald, created in 1891 by William Bengough (1863 - 1932) a celebrated artist who painted many American and Canadian scenes at the end of the 19th century.

Another famous picture Bengough created was of a mounted Louis Riel during the period he was in a confrontation with the Government of Canada during the Métis Resistance of 1885.

The portrait of John A that Bengough created was used in various versions, one as an ad, showing John A like a huckster, holding a box of soap to sell, and another holding a book to give him an intellectual air.

Photogravure, John A Macdonald - William Bengough, 1891
Orig. photogravure - Image Size - 37 x 52 cm
Found - Kingston, ON

Notice to Canadian School Children

Right the magnificent photogravure original from 1886. You will not find such a large and magnificent image of Canada's First Prime Minister, nor of any of the other large images we publish here, on any Canadian Government or private Museum web site. To see them you have to pay big bucks to civil servants. You better save up your allowance money, or get another part time job. Civil servants won't take poverty as an excuse to deny you access to pictures of your cultural heritage treasures.

produced in the actual size they publish, is the best you get from the civil service custodians of the original painting which belongs to the People of Canada. Or from any other Canadian Government museum or art gallery.

The custodians are the civil servants in the National Capital Commission in Ottawa, which gets all its money from the taxpayers of Canada. In return it gives Canadian schoolchildren this outrageously tiny picture of the original painting, they hold - to ransom... That's all folks; no need to look anywhere else...

You want a better, bigger one, dear children - you'll have to pay the NCC big bucks.

Below the NCC publishes the provenance of the painting, which shows how outrageous the situation really is, and making it clear it was presented to Prime Minister Meighen, and then DONATED to the People of Canada by his family.

A portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald painted in 1885-1886 by A. Dickson Patterson R.C.A. (1854-1930). In the 1920s, the portrait was purchased by Robert Meighen and passed to Frank Meighen, who presented it to then-Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Arthur Meighen. Gift of Senator Michael A. Meighen, Toronto, Ontario. Photo: NCC

Now the GIFT TO THE PEOPLE OF CANADA is repeatedly SOLD BACK to Canadian teachers, educators and schoolchildren, to raise money for the custodial staff.

Macdonald, Patterson, and the Meighens, all of them, would turn over in their graves if they knew it...






















Go to The Desecration of John A Macdonald























Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Cabinet Card, Sir John A Macdonald, c 1888
Orig. photo - Size - 4.25 x 6.5"
Found - Grimsby, ON
Photo by Desmarais, Montreal, Canada

Above the backs of the two photogravures show what framed antique prints should look like.

The thin cedar shakes are still there, showing the round circular saw marks, another sign of 19th century workmanship. The knots have dried out and fallen off long ago - a very good indicator of age.

Usually where the cedar shakes join, a staining streak transmits to the print in front of it. Lots of antique prints are defaced with vertical or horizontal streaks as a result. Happily this did not happen with either of these photogravures. This is because the photogravures are on thick, quality paper which has absorbed the staining from the back without transmitting it to the front.

The dust cover paper backing - which is used by high end art establishments to close off quality prints from dust getting in - has rotted off from both photogravures. Only the remnants are left on the back on one, and along the edges in the other. Another indicator of quality antique art.

The suspension wire is rusted and very degraded in both; the screws rusted and very wiggly.

The glass on both photogravures is very wavy, typical of that found on 19th century prints. So unlike one finds on so many framed antique prints, neither had its original glass broken and then replaced with later clearer glass. The glass dates from the 19th century.

It all means these photogravures of John A are antique, dating from the 1880s - not repros from the 1930s or 1950s.

Because it produced very high quality and richly textured art prints, photogravure was the printing technique used to make copies from high end art and photographs.

The image was mechanically and chemically etched into a flat copper plate, producing indentations and wells. The ink was pressed into the crevices, by hand, the excess being removed by the operator with cloths. He finally rubbed the inked surface with the palm of his hand, which further distributed the ink, and removed the excess. Then a high quality sheet of paper was placed on top of the copper plate and run through a press. A quality photogravure was carefully lifted off, having absorbed the ink pattern from the copper plate. The plate would then be inked again and prepared by hand as before to make another photogravure. The process was labour intensive, by the each...

And it shows; the photogravures are magnificent in detail.

The texture of the surface looks real as the swirls of ink make it look as if it's a charcoal original.

The photogravures can in no way be compared to modern prints run off by printing press like calendar art, while the operator watches TV.

Original Prints (Photogravure) - Originals & Repros 14

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