Watercolor and ink on paper, 9 ⅞ x 7 ⅞ inches, in a period painted frame.
Inscribed in ink: William Son of John and / Esther Kulb was born / September 30 th . In the / year of our Lord. 1832 / I THEE we adore. Eternal name! / And humbly own to thee. / How Feeble is our mortal frame. / What dying worms are we! / Our wasting lives grow shorter still / As months and days increase: / And ev’ry beating pulse we tell. / Leaves but the number less. / The year rolls round, and steals away / The breath that first it gave. / Whate’er we do, where’er we be/ We’re trav’lling to the grave.”
This birth record by John Zinck is a classic Pennsylvania-German fraktur of a unique type that is instantly recognizable for the design incorporating a formally-dressed couple flanking a block of text inscribed in English within a rectangular border, and painstaking and precisely drawn figures, flowers, and birds. This particular example, with its use of vibrant reds and blues ranks among the very best known examples of its kind. A related, though less colorful example was formerly in the Richard and Rosemarie Machmer collection and illustrated in Corinne and Russell Earnest, Fraktur: Folk Art and Family (Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 1999), p. 126.
The recipient of this birth record, William Culp (1832-1912), the son of John Culp (1806-1898) and Esther Culp (1812-1905), of Union County, Pennsylvania.
Hattie K. Brunner, Reinholds, Pennsylvania;
Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch collection, Cambridge, Maryland;
“Important Frakturs, Embroidered Pictures, Theorem Paintings and Other American Folk Art from the Collection of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch Part II,” Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, May 8-9, 1974, lot 2.
Ralph O. Esmerian collection, New York, New York, formerly a promised gift to the American Folk Art Museum;
“Visual Grace: Important American Folk Art from the collection of Ralph O. Esmerian,” Sotheby’s, New York, January 25, 2014, lot 605.
“American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum, American Folk Art Museum, New York, New York, December 11, 2001-June 2, 2002.
Donald A. Shelley, “Illuminated manuscripts,” Art in America , May 1954, p. 142.
Stacy C. Hollander, Ed., American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (New York: American Folk Art Museum in association with Harry N. Abrams, 2001), pages 216 and 482, no. 186.