I’m a big fan of 19th-century letterheads. They range from the minimal to the artistically overblown. I prefer something in between. I have encountered many of these letterheads over the year, and I would like to share some of them.
Let’s start with my favorite:
In this case, the elegance of the image on the letterhead is mirrored by the elegance of the shotguns made by Nichols & LeFever in the 1870s.
Daniel LeFever began his gunsmithing apprenticeship in 1851 in Central New York. After partnerships with James Ellis, Francis Dangerfield and Lorenzo Barber, he joined up with John Nichols in Syracuse. They continued to make breechloading rifles and shotguns. In the meantime LeFever is working on a hammerless system involving a lever on the side to cock the firing pins after the breech is closed. In 1878 a hammerless breechloading shotgun was awarded First Prize for the best breechloading shotgun in America at the St. Louis Bench show and Sportsman’s Association.
In 1879 (there’s that date again!) the partners decided to go their own separate ways. But their three-year legacy has been a favorite among collectors for years.
And just who is George E. Hart & Co. mentioned in the letter above? Hart started a company in 1874 that primarly made watch-making machinery. But he was also the patentee and manufacturer of the “Sportsman’s Favorite” metallic shell for breechloading shotguns and rifles.
Why were Hart and Nichols & LeFever in need of Crane paper? Stay tuned!