19th Century Theorems

19th Century Theorems from D.M. Dewey (1830-1874)

Horticultural Bookseller, Rochester, N.Y.

The Nurserymen’s Pocket Specimen Book, colored from Nature of Fruits, Flowers, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs, Roses, etc.


These Theorems, a form of unique American Folk Art, were done as an accompaniment to advertising, which was distributed to greenhouses, nurseries, and hardware stores in the 19th century. The method used to produce them is the same as for decorative work as seen on Hitchcock chairs, hatboxes, or stenciled walls and floors.

The artist, using cut-thin copper stencil patterns, paints through the hole with a dry brush, producing the defined edges of the pattern. Then brush strokes are applied individually on top of the painted surface to give further detail, such as the veins of a leaf or “freckles” on an apple. Often, random speckles were spattered on with a wet brush.

These are an example of the evolution of American advertising design which eventually led to lithography.


To purchase a theorem, go to the ‘Prints’ page.


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