The Acquisitions Table: Life on the Prairie

After Arthur F. Tait. Life on the Prairie. The Trappers’ Defence [sic]. “Fire Fight Fire.” New York: Currier & Ives, 1862.


Large folio lithographs by Currier & Ives represent the pinnacle of the firm’s production and were the most costly images that they issued. This image of western trappers setting fire to the prairie to act as a back stop for a larger blaze was published in 1862, at the same time that the nation was battling through the Civil War. The subject matter of tough, independent frontiersman working together to solve a problem must have been exotic and appealing to Currier & Ives’s clientele in eastern cities. This print was sold as one of a pair (the other depicts a buffalo hunt) and was priced at $3.00 uncolored and $5.00 hand-colored with watercolor.

Published by

Lauren Hewes

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

2 thoughts on “The Acquisitions Table: Life on the Prairie”

  1. I am wondering how much this photo is worth today. Mine is in a very fancy old frame, it is in very good condition. Please contact me, very curious. Thank you.

    1. As a research library, the AAS is unable to provide valuations on historic prints. You might wish to contact a dealer of American prints such as the Old Print Shop in New York, or the Philadelphia Print Shop. They should be able to give you an estimate on your print.

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