Q: I would very much like to know the value of this print by A. Gault, titled Knickerbocker Days. All the ones I see online are black and white prints. This may be what is known as an “Artini masterpiece.” Thank you.
A: Not much is known about A. Gault — we could not even discover what the “A.” stood for. But the pertinent information is he was an illustrator for The Aldine, which was published from 1868 to 1879. “Aldine” relates to the Italian printer Aldus Manutius and his editions of classic literature. It might also refer to a work published by the Aldine press or to a typeface designed by Manutius.
The Aldine was a literary, arts and music publication. It often included black and white engravings of works by famous American and European artists. In the April 1874 issue, it used the image of a 17th century male wearing a wig, a three-cornered hat, buckled shoes and, of course, knickered pants. This may have played a role in the genesis of the piece in today’s question.
The print is by A. Gault, who was an illustrator for The Aldine, a literary, arts and music publication in the latter part of the 19th century.
The term “knickerbocker” generally refers to Dutch settlers who arrived in what is now New York in the 1600s. More specifically, “knickerbockers” or “knickers” are a style of short trousers that were gathered at or just below the knee.
The term entered our collective consciousness when legendary author Washington Irving penned his satiric A History of New York, for which Irving used the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker. Later known as Knickerbocker’s History of New York, it used the word to mean a New Yorker who could trace his ancestors to the original Dutch settlers.
Artini Arts Inc. was located in the Bronx, New York. The company created what it called “four-dimensional sculptured engravings on nature’s raw materials.” On labels placed on the backs of its mass-produced works, it claimed the pieces were superior in quality to ivory or marble and would soon become collector’s items.
The wares were retailed through furniture stores and other commercial venues. Their wall plaques were produced in circles, squares, rectangles and other geometric forms. The images include quaint, romantic and religious scenes, but they were produced in multiple thousands and can be found for sale on the Internet for between $5 and $100.
The piece in today’s questions is therefore an art reproduction. We do not know its size, but we speculate its retail value is less than $25.
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