The Spirit of ’76 Statue

June 16, 2018

By Janet Dodrill

Statue of Spirit of '76 by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

Statue of Spirit of ’76 by Archibald Willard (Schmitz family archives).

An unusual object has been passed down in the family – a “Spirit of ’76” statue. I had know little about it, even after showing it to three local auction houses, until one day a couple months ago. I believed it had been given to my great-grandfather, Hugo M. Schmitz, by Archibald Willard, the Ohio artist who painted the Spirit of ’76. The two met in the late 1800s and both attended and exhibited at Cleveland’s Art Club, of which Willard was president.

The porcelain statue measures approximately 11″ W x 12″ H and is hand-painted.

Because of my mention of it in my 2/27/2017 blog post, my image of the statue shows up in a Google search for “spirit of 76 statue,” which may be how a woman in Texas came to contact me regarding her similar statue. What are the odds?

The Spirit of '76 statue owned by the Texas woman, who contacted me in April, 2018.

The Spirit of ’76 statue owned by the Texas woman, who contacted me in April, 2018.

The woman sent photos and provided a link to the Bedford Historical Society, in Bedford, Ohio (Archibald Willard’s birthplace), who apparently also owns a statue and has a web page about the manufacturer. The page states that the statue was manufactured by the Bailey-Walker China company in 1926 (which became the Walker China company in 1942) of Bedford, Ohio. Her statue was almost identical to ours. And after a trip to the Bedford museum I was able to confirm that theirs was also the same. (I learned at the museum that Willard’s own father was the model for the center drummer figure.)

The Bedford Historical Society, in the historic former town hall building, Bedford, Ohio.

The Bedford Historical Society, in the historic former town hall building, Bedford, Ohio.

Additional information had been passed down to the Texas woman by her grandmother regarding her statue in a note which she shared with me. It said that Bailey-Walker China produced a limited edition of 100 of these statues, made of fine china, which sold for $40 a piece at the time, and some retailers offered them for $120. Some of the statues went to Europe.

However, now the idea that our statue had been given to my great-grandfather is in question because Archibald Willard died in 1918, eight years before the statue is known to have been produced. Was ours a prototype made years in advance of production? it is signed on the bottom, and the other two aren’t. That would explain things. Or was it given to my grandfather, Warren R. Schmitz, maybe by Mr. Willard’s family? Who acquired it from where, and when? These are questions from the past that are fun to unravel, as I continue to learn about it.

Spirit of '76 statue manufactured by the Bailey-Walker China company, owned and on display at the Bedford Historical Society, which I visited in April, 2018.

Spirit of ’76 statue manufactured by the Bailey-Walker China company, owned and on display at the Bedford Historical Society, which I visited in April, 2018.

The grandmother’s note also said that when those who possess the statue are known to each other it is hoped to cement a very warm and lasting friendship.

So far we know there are two in Ohio and one in Texas! Are there any more out there?

 

 

 

 

Copyright article and images. All rights reserved. Not to be used without permission.

 

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Hugo Max Schmitz and Warren Reynolds Schmitz, presidents of Schmitz-Horning Co.

October 29, 2016

By Janet Dodrill

Hugo Max Schmitz holds his young son Warren Reynolds Schmitz, in 1905.

Hugo Max Schmitz holds his young son Warren Reynolds Schmitz, in 1905.

Schmitz-Horning Co., and mural and wall covering manufacturing and printing company, was founded around 1905 (or possibly earlier) in Cleveland, Ohio by Hugo Max Schmitz and William Horning (“Will” or “Bill”). They were artists and lithographers.

Hugo was born in Wisconsin and traveled to Cleveland in the late 1890s, joining the Art Club, and befriending (and even traveling with) several established area artists. He was a talented artist, and wanted to offer high quality art that was affordable for people’s homes, thus the idea of reproducible art murals and papers.

Hugo was acting president, and Mr. Horning sold his interest in the company around 1920.

Around 1926, Hugo’s son, Warren Reynolds Schmitz, came to work at the company as Vice President and worked in sales after graduating from Miami University of Ohio (where he excelled in Debate Club).

hugo max schmitz

Hugo Max Schmitz of Schmitz-Horning Company, Cleveland, Ohio.

Hugo was my great-grandfather and Warren was my grandfather.

The company had longevity in its employees, and many had multiple family members who worked there. They printed on two of the largest chromolithographic custom presses in the world (a third one being in London), and oversized zinc plates had to be shipped from Germany. The color lithographs exceeded a 40″ x 80″ sheet size and were printed in oil-based inks on high quality paper and were fully washable.

It was most likely one of the top ten wall covering manufacturers in the country of its time, and Hugo Schmitz was considered and authority on the Frieze, a continuous pictorial wall mural, and published articles in Decorator and Architectural trade journals.

In 1938, Warren Schmitz became president of Schmitz-Horning, after a tragic automobile accident and death of Hugo, 72. Also killed was family friend Margaret A. Hale, 66, wife of the late George W. Hale, builder of Cleveland’s Alcazar Hotel. Hugo’s wife, Pauline “Queen” Reynolds Schmitz was injured but survived.

warren-reynolds-schmitz-schmitz-horning-company-cleveland-ohio

After the death of Hugo Max Schmitz, Schmitz-Horning Co. was run by his son, Warren Reynolds Schmitz.

With Warren at the helm, he produced new patterns and product lines including scenic panoramics, working with several notable area artists, and developed sales and marketing materials including catalogs and small-scale wall scenics view books.

Warren Schmitz (“Bud”), ran the company until around 1960, and Schmitz-Horning Company closed. A bookkeeping document shows that a sale of S-H equipment to another local wallpaper firm occurred around 1964. A newspaper ad for the wall coverings sold through The May Company can be seen in The Plain Dealer in the 1964. Warren died at the age of 65 in 1970.

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