Steamboat Illustrations, Page 13


Attached scan of an un-numbered page from the 15, May 1945 issue of the Saturday Evening Post In the book of Louisiana and Mississippi plantations that I have there's no exact match for the plantation house so it may have been an idyllic fantasy of a Southern house on the Mississippi River. The steamboat is a fairly generic sidewheeler also but the whole image has charm. The scan enhanced the artwork as it appeared in the magazine quite a bit, now it's "more better." The style of the painting is reminiscent of the backgrounds painted by Disney artists for animated films. Can imagine Alice and Dinah the cat under the tree just before the White Rabbit ran by with his watch saying "I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!" (in "Wonderland.")

A partial transcript of the "copy" below the illustration:

"Pittsburgh Paints Look Better Longer

Near a great river shadowed by venerable, gnarled oaks, stands a gallant Southern home, ageless and serene. The spirit of warm welcome is ingrained in its architecture. Friendly as a handclasp, the high pillared porch is a harbor of hospitality. Wide, inviting doors are a silent apology for their ever being closed. The spacious hall leads to a sweeping staircase, as graceful as the train of a bride's gown. Mellowed by the light of countless candles and soft southern nights, blessed by years of kindly sunlight, the great homes of the South have an aura of romance. Old mahogany is rich with the priceless patina of time and use. Graceful mirrors recall the gracious days and gala nights when they reflected a stately era of rustling silk, fine linen and gleaming silver. These are fortunate homes that never can he empty because they are well-peopled with memories. Their beauty belongs to all who share the love of home that is deep-rooted in our national character. At no time in history has this great American trait been more evident than now. We treasure our homes and the desire to protect them is common with us all.

. . . We take pride and great satisfaction in making finer products for those who know that a few cents more paid for quality paint is a wise investment.

Time has proven that Pittsburgh Paints do look better longer.


Copyright 1948 Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co.. Pittsburgh, PA


William E. L. Bunn (1910-2009) was a designer, muralist, and painter in Ft. Madison, Iowa and Ojai, California. Bunn was born in Muscatine, Iowa and received his B.A. in Graphic and Plastic Arts and an M.A. in Theater Design, both from the University of Iowa.

In 1937 he was awarded a one-year post-graduate fellowship as an art intern for Grant Wood.

From 1938 to 1942 he won four commissions from the Treasury Department to produce murals for Federal buildings.

He also exhibited paintings, primarily depicting Mississippi River steamboats, at the National Academy of Design, Art Institute of Chicago, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and other group shows.

Beginning in 1943 Bunn worked as an industrial designer at several companies including Sheaffer Pen Company (1946-1967) and Cuckler Steele Span Company (1967-1977).

After his retirement, he and his wife, Annavene, moved to California, and he continued to paint. Bunn was also active in the Theosophical Society and had an interest in aviation.

LIFE magazine featured two photos of William Bunn (one is included above) and his majestic steamboat paintings the October 14, 1940 issue. Below is the text from that "Art" feature. The mural entitled MISSISSIPPI PACKETS was a work in progress (J.M. WHITE at center) behind Bunn at his studio in Iowa City, Iowa in the photograph and it was installed in 1940 in the U.S. post office in Hickman, Kentucky. The completed work is in the lower left. A mural of a head-on view of the steamboat DUBUQUE painted in 1936 is in the U.S. post office at Dubuque, Iowa. In the LIFE issue there are three color images of Bunn's paintings, two of those are presented on the right. A "study" drawing of the high angle view of the DUBUQUE (in color on the right) can be seen behind Bill's left leg in the photo.

LIFE magazine 14 October, 1940


"When I was a youngster," says Painter William Bunn who grew up in Muscatine, Iowa, "my buddies and I always headed for the river after school. We would row across to the Illinois shore or out to Towhead Island where Mark Twain used to play as a boy. We absorbed all the sights and smells and sounds of the Mississippi it was the one great dominating influence of my life."

This river influence had made Bill Bunn at 30 a specialist in painting old time Mississippi steamboats. His murals are to be installed in Iowa and Kentucky, and next year he will hold his first one-man show in New York City.

Bunn's boats evoke a vanished era in American life when the great floating palaces set a standard for elegance. They served the finest Southern cooking. At night as the dark shores slipped by, their decks were aglow with lanterns and passengers danced to banjos. In the sunlight they glistened like wedding cakes with their gilded gingerbread. Almost every trip brought adventure. There were gamblers aboard. Courtships flourished in the long lazy days. Rich planters, who were given free trips as a bonus for their shipments, sometimes took their wives, sometimes did not. Once in a while one of the boats exploded and burst into flame. At the end of the run, gay as a foreign capital, was New Orleans.

With a historian's zeal, Bill Bunn reconstructs his steamboats from old drawings and photographs or from boat-builders' original plans. He paints them in a clean, ship-shape style that shows his five years of study with Grant Wood in Iowa City. This month Bunn and his 19-year-old wife will sail their own boat from Lake Itasca, where the Mississippi begins, 2,500 miles down to New Orleans. If they run out of money, Bunn says he will do portrait sketches on the way or set up his portable Punch and Judy show and perform for youngsters along the river front.


Streckfus Steamers issued this pin 1.20 inches in diameter that was probably intended to be given to honored guests who visited the pilot house of the PRESIDENT and were privileged to "steer" for a while under close supervision.


Way's Packet Directory Number 4578

Sidewheel Excursion boat
Built in1924 at Midland, Pennsylvania (hull)
Formerly the CINCINNATI

Owned by Streckfus Steamers, Captain Verne Streckfus (master) [1933] New Orleans Steamboat Company [1981]

After being sold to Streckfus Steamers, she received an entire new superstructure and came out on July 4, 1934 as the best excursion boat on the rivers. She could carry 3,100 passengers. In 1944, after she became the full-time excursion boat in New Orleans, her guards were glass-enclosed. In 1978 she was converted to diesel.

After serving as a casino boat at Davenport during the 1990's she was retired and replaced. The party who bought the PRESIDENT planned to turn her into a hotel so she was dismantled and the pieces taken far from the river to a location near St. Elmo, Illinois where she sat for two years unassembled until the pieces were moved to Altamont, Illinois where the parts began to disintegrate. Finally the parts were sold as scrap. Bill Wundram in the June 29, 2015 edition of the Quad City Times wrote an informative biography of the PRESIDENT that told her story on up to her inglorious finale. Here is the link to the online version of Bill's article: qctimes.com

Hippolyte Sebron steamboat illustration

This is from a 16 X 20 print of Hippolyte Sebron's painting of steamboats on the New Orleans levee in 1853. The original huge mural-like painting is in the Dean's office at Tulane University in New Orleans. I visited there and saw it with old graduate Ray Samuel who was the biggest dealer in steamboaty stuff I ever ran across. I only bought a few things from him and had to just pine away for the rest. All his best stuff was in his own collection at his home in the Garden District.

Anyone seeking a print of the painting should go through the Tulane University Special Collections tulane.edu

Special Collections
Tulane Libraries, Jones Hall
Tulane University
New Orleans LA 70118
ph: 504-865-5685
fx: 504-865-5761
email Tulane.edu

Miller Tires advertisement with steamboat illustration

This is a colorized version of an old ad for Miller Tires. The original was a black and white pen and ink drawing.

Kaywoodie pipe advertisement with steamboat illustration

This 1945 ad for Kaywoodie pipes uses a still from Steamboat Round the Bend, starring Will Rogers. Kaywoodie did the colorization.

lithograh ad steamboat illustration

This is the graphic portion of an 1890's color lithograph "No. 536" from Donaldson in Cincinnati. The red letters above and below (cropped out here) promoted the Stony Creek steamboat recreation pier at New Altona Beach. An "Ideal Picnic Resort." Apparently this was in New York state someplace where I'm sure the boats did not resemble our favorites but the graphic is pretty nice. The generic boat has no name though it resembles the CINCINATTI. The artist eliminated the swinging stage on the port side, probably to keep it from being cropped by the oval vignette. The image area is about 27 inches square.

You're probably familiar with this . . . Pilot house of the Great Republic from Oct 1874 Scribner's Monthly from a series of articles about "The Great South", this was called Down the Mississippi.

I made a high rez scan and improved the distant boat visible on the left side and slimmed down the pilot who was about a third bigger in the engraving. I imagine the original drawing by J. Wells Champney that this was based on, was probably quite a bit better than the engraving but who knows what became of it? - Dave

Frederic Mizen steamboat illustration

The Lynxville painting was done by Chicago artist Frederic Mizen (1888-1964). Mizen specialized in portraits and landscapes with an emphasis on the American Indian.

Lynxville, Wisconsin was first known as Haney's Landing, when two brothers, John and James Haney, purchased land from the government. They started a trading post to deal in wood and furs with the Indians and built the first log cabin. In 1857 a group of men hired Pizarro Cook to survey the land and the village was laid out. Mr. Cook settled here in Crawford County and became the County Surveyor. He served in the army during the Civil War, taking part in a number of important events, such as the Siege of Atlanta and Sherman's march to the sea. Lynxville was incorporated in 1889 with a census population of 313.

The name Lynxville was taken from the steamboat "Lynx" which brought surveyors to the village. Lynxville had the ideal harbor - the channel of the river made a bend into the land at the point called "The Devil's Elbow" and the water good depth enabling boats, large and small, to come in for supplies and to carry on trade. Lynxville became one of the stopping places for big boats traveling from St. Paul to St. Louis.

puzzle with steamboat illustration

Cover of the little box (5 X 6 inches) containing a sort of a jig saw puzzle of a side wheel Queen City. The puzzle pieces are actually just a bunch of trapezoidal shaped pieces so they don't interlock like a jig saw would. Assembled the whole thing measures 12 1/4 X 16 1/4. This could possibly represent the second sidewheel Queen City 1851 - 1859. There are no swinging stages in either of the graphics so possibly this predates the Civil War! Kind of hard to believe but the design and antiquity of the box and puzzle make it seem possible. The manufacturer Peter G. Thomson is no relation that I know of but he spelled his name "right." (Detail below.)

puzzle box steamboat illustration

Queen City Puzzle box.


A circular vignette from the cover of the "1889-1890" Christmas catalogue published by the Atlanta, Georgia manufacturer THE "DIXIE" COMPANY. Don't know what they made but a graphic of the factory in the cover is huge and has two big chimneys plus a lot of smaller ones spouting smoke.

Sidewheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 4189
Built in 1887 at Jeffersonville, Indiana. Hull built by Howard Ship Yard
Home port or owner's residence circa 1887, Cincinnati, Ohio. Original price: $32,500. She was built for the Evansville-St. Louis trade but proved to be too large.
In 1890 she entered into the Louisville-Cincinnati trade in opposition to the Fleetwood of the U.S. Mail Line. She made only one stop: Madison, Indiana.
The two rival boats attracted a lot of attention and passenger fare dropped to fifty cents per round trip including meals and berth.

Both boats were laid up by low water and during the summer lull the NEW SOUTH was purchased by the Mail Line and began running Cincinnati-Memphis.

In the summer of 1894, she ran in the Cincinnati-Coney Island trade teamed up with the BOSTONA. In February 1896 she ran a Mardi Gras trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans.
On a trip to St. Louis in October 1896 she got in a windstorm near Harrisonville, Illinois and disabled a wheel when she hit some piling. The C.W. BATCHELOR took off her passengers and freight.

In 1902 she ran a Mardi Gras trip from Cincinnati. She hit an obstruction downbound on the Ohio River and sprung her cabin so badly that hundreds of blankets were bought at Cairo to stuff in the cracks. On February 12, 1905 the ice gorge broke at Cincinnati. The NEW SOUTH broke loose and was so badly damaged that she was dismantled at Madison, Indiana. She apparently gave her original engines to the GREY EAGLE and thereafter she had compound machinery.

Elgin watch with steamboat illustration

An Elgin watch with steamboat graphic. Not certain of the vintage. Will have to get a jeweler to open it up and give me a run down on the serial number, date etc.


With the exception of images credited to certain institutions,
most of the images on this page are from a private collection.
Please request permission before reproducing our images in any publication.*