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A Sleigh Ride with Currier & Ives

Pascal would never admit it, but I think he secretly looks forward to this time of year for the holiday music on all of the radio stations.  To my knowledge, having radio stations dedicate an entire month to playing Christmas music is a uniquely American phenomonen.  He claims not to like it, but I've heard him humming Deck the Halls and tapping his toes along to Sleigh Ride:

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
Ring ting tingling too
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you

One of the most popular holiday songs of all time, Sleigh Ride has been covered by an amazing number of artists, including:  Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, The Andrew Sisters, The Muppets, Johnny Mathis, Amy Grant, Harry Connick, Jr., Debbie Gibson, Neil Diamond, Garth Brooks, The Spice Girls, Neil Diamond, and Clay Aiken. There's a verse in the song that makes reference to Currier & Ives, probably the first time I'd ever heard of the duo. It wasn't until years later that I understood that Currier & Ives were famous printmakers.

There's a happy feeling
Nothing in the world can buy
When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie
It'll nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Iives
These wonderful things are the things
We remember all through our lives!

So just who were Currier and Ives? Only the most
successful printmaking firm of all-time. Headed by two men (with the last names of Currier and Ives), they operated in New York City from 1834-1907, producing black and white prints (lithographs) from paintings that were then hand-colored. Lithographic prints could be reproduced quickly and purchased inexpensively, and the firm called itself "the Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints", advertising its lithographs as "colored engravings for the people", i.e.  art for the masses.

The company was prolific, publishing at least 7,500 lithographs in the firm's 72 years of operation. Artists produced two to three new images every week, selling more than a million prints. Currier & Ives had an uncommon flair for gauging the people's interests.  They employed (or used the work of) many celebrated artists of the day to create the original drawings which were then printed and later colored by hand. Over the years their selection of prints broadened to include almost every subject. There were horses, kittens, the Brooklyn Bridge, Christopher Columbus, historical events and catastrophes (like the explosion aboard the USS Princeton, 1844).  Of course, there were also plenty of winter scenes such as sleigh rides in the country and ice-skating in Central Park.

This is the first year that South 'n France is offering a Currier & Ives bon bon tin, and we have feeling that just like centuries ago, it's sure to be a popular seller...

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