Happy New Year!

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January marks a fresh start and a new year. In 1860, an anonymous penman illustrated an homage to the New Year with this calligraphic drawing. “Happy New Year 1860” is hand-lettered in a boldly patterned font in black ink and highlighted with red, blue, green, and yellow watercolors. An undulating flag ripples behind the year and a heavenly hand points down from clouds. There are two stars that frame the numbers 13 and 33. These numbers represent the number of original colonies and the number of states in the union. Scalloped swags with tassels along the top contain the words “Union, Virtue, Peace, and Prosperity” in alternating bold and lacey lettering. Finally a border with a different design on each of the four sides frames the picture. Likely made as an exercise for a writing class or an advertisement by a penmanship master, the drawing encompasses hopeful sentiments for a year that included Lincoln’s election and South Carolina’s succession and would usher in a tumultuous time. One hundred years later, the 1960s were another turbulent decade. You can learn more about them in our current exhibit, The Sixties: The Age of Aquarius in Chester County. In the meantime, we hope that 2016 will be a virtuous, peaceful, and prosperous new year.

(Drawing, ink, pencil, watercolor, 1988.501, Gift of Charles A. Darlington, Jr.)

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