Missionary Society Certificate by Nathaniel Currier

Missionary Society Certificate by Nathaniel Currier

This black and white print is of a life membership to a Mr. Philip J.A. Harper issued by the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Society, begun in 1820 and headquartered in New York City, was among the earliest organizations that focused on mission within and outside the United States. It initially worked to convert Native Americans and slaves before extending its activities to inhabitants of West Africa and elsewhere overseas.
A vignette depicting missionary activity appears above the text that was inspired by the Society’s proselytizing during the 19th Century. On the right side is a depiction of Native Americans and Africans who were “saved” due to the preaching of a missionary. The left side shows the damnation that comes to those who fail to hear God’s word. Above the scene floats a triumphant angel sent by God who is blowing a trumpet, Bible in hand.
This print was produced by Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888). Currier was the founder of the company that eventually became the Currier & Ives lithography firm. At the age of fifteen Currier apprenticed with the Pendleton lithography firm in New York City. Five years later he moved to Philadelphia to work with the lithographer M.E.D. Brown (1810-1896). After a year Currier moved back to New York, where he intended on going into business with one of the Pendleton brothers. Instead he formed a partnership in 1834 with Adam Stodart who was in the sheet music business. Within a year he opened his own lithography company on Wall Street and then moved to Nassau and Spruce. In 1852 a bookkeeper named James Merritt Ives joined the firm. He married Charles Currier’s sister-in-law and brought to the firm a critical eye and business acumen. In five years he had become a partner. Currier & Ives would become arguably the most successful and prodigious lithography firm of the 19th century. Although especially well known for prints celebrating American landscapes and pastimes like sailing and ice skating, Currier & Ives also produced lithographs that featured current events, social issues and political controversies
Currently on loan
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church
Currier, Nathaniel
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
ink (overall material)
paper (overall material)
image: 22 in x 17 in; 55.88 cm x 43.18 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Wild Animals
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Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Morality & Religious Prints
Peters Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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