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Archives & Manuscripts

Horner-Coates silhouette album, circa 1803-1839

 Series
Identifier: SFHL-PA-033D
Commercial album containing hollow-cut silhouettes of the extended Philadelpia Quaker Coates and Horner family and friends mounted on blue paper. All are identified, some stamped MUSEUM, cut at the Peale Museum. The bulk of the silhouettes date between about 1803 to 1824. An unrelated printed reproduction of a silhouette of Thomas Shillitoe (Liverpool, 1839) is glued near the end of the volume. Also includes some Quaker ministers and prominent Philadelphians such as Benjamin Rush.

Dates

  • circa 1803-1839
  • Majority of material found within 1803 - 1824

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Restricted - fragile

Extent

1 Volumes

Overview

Commercial album containing hollow-cut silhouettes of the extended Philadelpia Quaker Coates and Horner family and friends mounted on blue paper. All are identified, some stamped MUSEUM, cut at the Peale Museum. The bulk of the silhouettes date between about 1803 to 1824. An unrelated printed reproduction of a silhouette of Thomas Shillitoe (Liverpool, 1839) is glued near the end of the volume. Also includes some Quaker ministers and prominent Philadelphians such as Benjamin Rush.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827) introduced the physiognotrace at his museum in Philadelphia in 1802. Invented in the late 18th century, the machine created an impressed image from the profile that was traced by the operator. The image then was carefully cut away so that the hollow silhouette remained. This generally was mounted on black paper and either framed or placed in albums. Moses Williams (1777-c.1825), an African-American born into slavery in the Peale household, was trained to cut the silhouettes. Many of the images cut at one of the three Peale Museums (located in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York City) were embossed with a stamp, either "Peale's Museum," under an embossed eagle or "MUSEUM." Silhouettes were especially popular with Quakers who disdained the "vanity" and subjectivity of portraiture but were more open to an image mechanically reproduced from life. With the introduction of photograph at mid-century, the popularity of silhouettes quickly declined.

The Coates and Horner families of Philadelphia were closely related by marriage in many generations. Josiah Langdale Coates (1747-1809) married Mary Morrison (1753-1842) in 1772. His younger brother, Samuel Coates (1748-1830) married first Lydia Saunders under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, and secondly, Amy Horner (1765-1838), also under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. Amy Horner Coates’s brother, Benjamin Horner (1769-1810) married Mary Coates (1776-1862), the niece of Samuel Coates. Mary Coates Horner’s brother, George Morrison Coates, married Rebecca Horner who was a cousin of Amy.

Amy’s older sister, Mary, married Ellis Yarnall in 1789 at Chester Monthly Meeting, and they also settled in Philadelphia. According the family genealogy published by Mary Coates, daughter of George Morrison Coates and Rebecca Horner Coates, the families resided within blocks of each other and were members of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). The families lived near the Peale’s Museum which was located in what became known as Independence Hall on 5th and Chestnut Streets.

Silhouettes of many of the family members, some as early as circa 1803, are represented in the album. Others are dated up through 1824.

Other Finding Aids

Photocopy of index in the album included with the volume.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 1966

Mary Coates, Family memorials and recollections: or, Aunt Mary's patchwork. Philadelphia: Private printing, 1885.



PG 7, Coates Family, Horner Family for family trees indicating images included.

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