Skip to main content

…all The Way To The Bank

March 2023
1min read

In “Assassin on Trial” (June/July 1981) author John M. Taylor declared that “it is difficult today to convey the grief and outrage” that greeted the assassination of President James A. Garfield by Guiteau in 1881. For some, however, grief was tempered by the clang of the cash register.

Take, for example, the son of Nathaniel Currier, of the New York printmaking firm of Currier & Ives. Garfield, shot on July 2, died of his wound on September 19; on September 21, Currier’s son wrote to his father to break the good news: “The demand for Garfield pictures is perfectly overwhelming, it surpasses everything. We took twelve hundred and twenty-five dollars in hard cash over the counter today!! We could have sold more but we could not get them.…”

Four days later, the news was even better: “Our cash sales for the week have been very heavy. A rough estimate would be thirty-five hundred dollars for the last five days. … We have not been able to strike a balance as all our spare time has been devoted to getting money into the bank. Silver, greenbacks, and nickels have flowed in like a mountain torrent.

“At times the store has been so packed with buyers that you had to elbow your way through to the back part. We had to barricade to keep the crowd in the front part of the store.

“At times they yelled so for pictures that the neighbors were scared and put their heads out of the window to see what the matter was.…”

These two letters, along with eightyeight others written by Currier between 1881 and 1885, were recently acquired by the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "August/september 1981"

Authored by: Martha C. Brown

America’s First Native Cookbook

Authored by: The Editors

A preview of a magnificent private collection of nineteenth-century art

Authored by: Richard Reinhardt

This puckish, nearly forgotten California architect built his own distinctive style on the simple principle that beauty alone endures

Authored by: Joseph J. Corn

The Rise and Fall of a Most American Dream

Authored by: Nat Brandt

In the Meuse-Argonne, this backwoods pacifist did what Marshal Foch saw as “the greatest thing accomplished by any private’ soldier of all the armies of Europe.”

Authored by: Peter Andrews

How a Courtly Game Became Big Business

Authored by: The Editors

The Forgotten Photographs of Nancy Ford Cones

Authored by: T. H. Watkins


Authored by: Walter Karp

How the happy combination of a millionaire and, a parson gave us Colonial Williamsburg, a place of surpassing loveliness—and a continuing reminder of what a truly bold enterprise our Revolution was

Authored by: John H. White, Jr.

The John Bull Steams Again

Featured Articles

The world’s most prominent actress risked her career by standing up to one of Hollywood’s mega-studios, proving that behind the beauty was also a very savvy businesswoman. 

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.