The Steamboat Arrives
Quarter plate ruby-glass ambrotype of a steamboat on a large body of water, anonymous American ca. 1858. Housed in a full pressed-paper case with separated spine.
A superb and detailed view of a shallow draft, stern-wheel steamboat and the huge crowd which has gathered to greet it, and who seem to have stepped right out of a Mark Twain novel. In the upper right a sign is visible which appears to read "A WESTON STORE", and the pilothouse of the boat bears a painted name, partially obscured, which I would puzzle out as "C ROGERS". The boat bears several American flags and seems to be adorned with leafy tree boughs. Together with the festive garb of the onlookers, this may indicate that the boat was engaged in a holiday excursion. On reverse, the brass protector bears a largely illegible notation in pencil, which appears to end in the phrase "Lake Boat".
The image is in excellent condition. Emulsion shows some traces of the original double-eliptical mat which has been removed to make more of the image visible. (Original mat retained in case behind the image.)
(detail image laterally corrected)
New information on this item:
Since the sale catalog was printed we have discovered that there was indeed a steamboat, the Charles Rogers, which may be that shown in the ambrotype:
"0964 - Charles Rogers - Freight boat w[ood]h[ull] b[uilt]. Manchester, Pa., 1858. A small stern-wheeler, 27 tons. She is distinguished having made a trip in May 1859 from Keokuk to Fort Dodge, Iowa, up the Des Moines River. She was loaded with groceries and hardware, trading the cargo for gold en route. In 1888 this voyage was described as 'the first and only trip to Fort Dodge."
From Frederick Way, "Way's Packet Directory 1848-1983" (1983), p. 80.