Steamboat Illustrations, Page 28


Cornwell's BETSY ANN for Early Times is borrowed by Schmidt's Beer

Another nameless commercial artist harvested Dean Cornwell's painting of the BETSY ANN entitled "Kentucky River Boat" of for a 1952 True Magazine Ad for Early Times Whisky. This time the product was Schmidt Beer and this is from a "proof" print on metal for a beer can 4.75 x 6.60 inches printed in the "Keglined" process for Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co. St. Paul, MINN. The reference to the "Great Northwest" suggests the theme of the beer was the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon although steamboats in the Northwest have a somewhat different "style." This faithful representation of the BETSY puts it more towards the Midwest and South on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

The Schmidt Brewery was originally known as the Christopher Stahlmann, Cave Brewery. A brewery first appeared on the site of 882 W. Seventh Street in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1855, becoming the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company in 1900. (Wikipedia)


Paper label 3 1/2 x 4 1/4 for Cook's Goldblume Beer brewed in the Ohio River city of Evansville, Indiana.

Cook's Goldblume Beer: evansvilleliving.com

F.W. Cook Brewing Co. was located at 11 NW Seventh St., according to Donahue Studios 1940s Photographs. The company was initially established under the name of Cook & Reis, after F.W. Cook and Louis Reis. The History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana: From the Earliest Times to the Present says the pair established and built the City Brewery in 1853. Louis Reis then sold his interest in the brewery to his brother, Jacob Reis, who was Cook's stepfather. Cook became the sole owner of the business in 1873, and in 1885, the City Brewery was converted into a stock company under the name of F.W. Cook Brewing Co. The company, the book says, brewed a famous Pilsner beer that became a "household word and is the most popular beverage in this part of the country."


Beautiful cover illustration by artist Rudolph Belarski for a pulp fiction novelette featured in ARGOSY magazine Feb 17, 1940 Volume 297, Issue 1, pages 6-30

The pirate holding the derringer bears a strong resemblance to Vincent Price and the steamboat pilot reminded me of Ray Milland.

CALAMITY RIVER by Donald Barr Chidsey

Introductory text above the opening paragraph of the short novel on page 6:

"He knew by heart all the ins and out of the treacherous and twisting water - every little sandspit, every shifting shoreline. He knew too the deadly reputation of Filmer the pirate. By putting these two pieces of knowledge together he turned deadly perils into the victory that comes only to the brave. A vigorous tale of the Mississippi."


RUDOLPH BELARSKI (1900-1983) noted for "pulp fiction" and paperback detective images, was said to be "the perfect paperback artist" by art editor Ken Stuart, of The Saturday Evening Post in the mid-1950s.

A master at building suspense through figure, perspective and color, Belarski dazzled the newsstand browser with pictorial headlines of vital action scenes pertaining to the inside story.

In doing so, he sold magazines and books to a drama-craving audience, and propelled publishing's mass markets, thus infiltrating American minds with the trends and fashions of pop culture.

Belarski's career began in the 1920s, with the pioneering days of American aviation. His best-remembered subjects, however, came along with the crime story fascination in the 1930s: voluptuous dames in distress mixing it up with square-jawed detectives and thugs.

His science-fiction subjects of this same time are astonishingly convincing; his constructions of the 25th century adapted microphones, lawnmowers and hubcaps as elements.

In his usual timely fashion, Belarski veers in the 1950s away from the slick world of melodrama towards a more natural, realistic world.

A great lover of camping and fishing, Belarski also painted a number of covers for Outdoor Life.

Understanding medium, palette, subject and time, Belarski captures America's fickle ideals.

As his illustrations soar alongside the growth of our history of popular culture, so does the nostalgic trend that he spawned.

The Thrilling Adventures of Rudolph Belarski
Jun 14, 2015 by Mike Chomko


Rudolph Belarski grew up in the hardscrabble world of coal mines in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. He finished the sixth grade and then entered the work force with his classmates at the Pittston Mines, where he labored for ten years, while he subscribed to a correspondence art school to follow his dream to become a celebrated illustrator.

In 1922 he moved to New York City to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where his classmates included Walter Baumhofer, Frederick Blakeslee, and John Fleming Gould. In 1928, he entered the pulp industry through Dell Publications, doing interiors and covers for adventure pulps about World War I, such as WAR ACES, WAR BIRDS, WAR NOVELS, and WAR STORIES. In later years, he worked for Fiction House and the Munsey chain of pulp magazines, painting covers for ACES, AIR STORIES, ALL-AMERICAN FICTION, ARGOSY, DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY, DOUBLE DETECTIVE, RED STAR ADVENTURES, SILVER BUCK WESTERN, WINGS, and other rough-paper titles.


Following the Second World War, Rudolph Belarski became one of Ned Pines' top paperback cover artists at Popular Library as well as a leading illustrator for the men's adventure magazines. He finished his career as a teacher at the world's foremost correspondence art school, the Famous Artists School of Westport, Connecticut. On Saturday, August 15th, at 8:45 PM, please join pulp art historian David Saunders for an exploration of the life and work of pulp artist Rudolph Belarski at PulpFest 2015.

Born in 1954, David Saunders is a New York artist. His work has been collected worldwide in museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Hirschhorn Museum of Art in Washington, DC. He has taught art at such colleges as, Yale, Oberlin, and the Kansas City Art Institute, as well as art schools in France, Korea, Mexico and Japan.

David's father was the legendary illustrator, Norman Saunders. His mother, Ellene Politis Saunders, worked at Fawcett Publications as Chief Executive Editor for WOMAN'S DAY. In 1972, David became his father's business secretary, which started a long project to catalog his father's 7,000 published illustrations. He spent the next seventeen years gathering published examples of his father's work from used bookshops and submitting each new entry to his father's inspection. What began as a sentimental hobby for a father and son grew into an impressive archive of 20th century American illustration. After his father's death in 1989, he completed the archive on his own. He interviewed his father's surviving associates to record their oral histories. These transcripts helped to broaden his viewpoint of the popular culture publishing industry and also documented vital information about the lives of other artists. Some of this material has been published as biographical profiles in ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE and several coffee-table art books on pulp artists.

David is, quite probably, the foremost scholar of American pulp illustrators. His free public website, Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, has over three-hundred biographical profiles of these creators of popular culture. David continues to research, document, and promote a greater appreciation of pulp artists. To find out more, please visit davidsaunders.biz, normansaunders.com, and theillustratedpress.com.

(Rudolph Belarski's cover to the Summer 1944 issue of AIR WAR is one of many covers that the talented artist painted for Ned Pines' "Thrilling Group" of pulp magazines. To learn more about the artist, be sure to visit David Saunders' Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists where you will find more than 300 biographical profiles of American pulp artists. For a wider sampling of the artist's work, pick up a copy of John Gunnison's BELARSKI: PULP ART MASTER, available through Adventure House.)



Scan of an original letterhead in electrotype format on a printer's block measuring .70 x 5.70 inches attached to a custom sawed backing of wood. damoselsprintersblocks.com "Electrotypes have a copper printing surface backed with stereo metal and are approximately 12 points thick."

A "proof" of the printer's block was created by reversing the negative image to a positive mirror image in Photoshop. Mention of the S.R.T. Co. is made in "The Report of the Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1891- 93" On page 3375 in Appendix 10 - in Capt. Thomas W. Symons', Corps of Engineers report pertaining to the upper Columbia and Snake Rivers, Oregon and Washington in 1893:

"The Snake River Transportation Company reported that their steamer NORMA has done nothing during the past year, with the exception of making one trip of 8 miles from the foot of Bay Horse Rapids to Huntington Bridge, where she still remains tied up. On this trip she carried no freight or passengers."


The 1940 WPA mural of the Mississippi river city of Cape Girardeau entitled "METROPOLIS" attracted my attention because of the towboat in the lower left and the packet boat lower center on a current post card promoting the Missouri Preservation Conference to be held in Cape Girardeau in October, 2015. I contacted Missouri Preservation and both Katie Graebe and Bill Hart responded to my inquiries. Bill's comments below:

Cape Girardeau as it was appeared in the mural METROPOLIS in 1940, was created as part of a WPA project. Today, some of the buildings are missing, but very many of these structures still exist. Of course the river port is no longer filled with so many boats and so much activity. The train depot (red brick in the center) is gone, as well as the factory building in the far right. The old St. Francis Hospital in the far left at top is gone, as is the old bridge, which was pretty new at the time of the painting.

But the Court of Common Pleas, top and center is still there, as is the building to its right, the Southeast Missourian Building. Going right from there, the Marquette Hotel (just to the left of the smoke stack smoke) is still there, and just above, the domed Academic Hall at Southeast Missouri has recently been renovated. Coming down the hill from the old Marquette Hotel, the Presbyterian and Lutheran church buildings are still there. To the left of the old train depot are the B'Nai El Temple and St. Vincent's Cathedral, both of which are still shining.

Bill Hart
Executive Director

Missouri Preservation
Located in the Historic Katy Depot
320 First Street
Boonville, Missouri 65233


Rafting down the Mississippi at night with Huck and Jim Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 1885 From Chapters 18 & 19

It was just dark now. . . I struck through the woods and made for the swamp . . . red-hot to jump aboard the raft and get out of that awful country.

I run along the bank a piece and got aboard...

" . . . don't you lose no time, Jim, but just shove off for the big water as fast as ever you can."

I never felt easy till the raft was two mile below there and out in the middle of the Mississippi.

Then we hung up our signal lantern, and judged that we was free and safe once more.

I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so was Jim to get away from the swamp.

We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't.

You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.

Yonder was the banks and the islands, across the water; and maybe a spark- which was a candle in a cabin window- and sometimes on the water you could see a spark or two- on a raft or a scow, you know; and maybe you could hear a fiddle or a song coming over from one of them crafts . . .

It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened . . .

Once or twice of a night we would see a steamboat slipping along in the dark, and now and then she would belch a whole world of sparks up out of her chimbleys, and they would rain down in the river and look awful pretty; then she would turn a corner and her lights would wink out and her pow-wow shut off and leave the river still again; and by-and-by her waves would get to us, a long time after she was gone, and joggle the raft a bit, and after that you wouldn't hear nothing for you couldn't tell how long, except maybe frogs or something.


This St. Louis candy manufacturer chose a "river icon" ("Showboat"/Steamboat) as the graphic on this mid 1900's candy box "Founded in 1876 Chase Candy Company Chase's Showboat Chocolates"
Net Weight One Pound
Measures 12 inches long by 1-1/3 inches high.



Attached is the front of the dust jacket with pen and ink drawings by British artist Ronald Searle for the 1948 Chiltern Library Edition published in London of THE CONFIDENCE MAN: HIS MASQUERADE, a novel by Herman Melville (best known as the author of MOBY DICK). THE CONFIDENCE MAN was first published in New York City in 1857.

The top illustration depicts the title character on the left in one of his disguises, resembling Orson Welles playing a Mandarin. The character on the right is a frontiersman named "Pitch" wearing a coonskin cap and carrying a rifle who is described by Melville in Chapter 21:

"A rather eccentric-looking person, somewhat ursine in aspect; sporting a shaggy spencer of the cloth called bear's-skin; a high-peaked cap of raccoon-skin, the long bushy tail switching over behind; raw-hide leggings; grim stubble chin; and to end, a double-barreled gun in hand--a Missouri bachelor, a Hoosier gentleman, of Spartan leisure and fortune, and equally Spartan manners and sentiments; and acquainted, in a Spartan way of his own, with philosophy and books, as well as woodcraft and rifles."

The bottom illustration depicts the steamboat Fidèle, also attached is a larger file of that steamboat drawing by itself. Searle probably based his drawing on a steamboat in one of the Currier & Ives prints which this closely resembles in style.

In the summer of 1840 Herman Melville had traveled from the East to visit his Uncle, Major Thomas Melvill Jr. at Galena, Illinois. Galena was a prosperous town inland a short distance northeast of the Mississippi River which steamboats reached by a six mile passage up the Galena River to pick up and deliver passengers and freight.

Melville's 1840 journey was made by steamer on the Great Lakes, inland waterway canals and by a steamboat on the Mississippi.

Melville's CONFIDENCE MAN takes place on April Fool's Day aboard a steamboat departing St. Louis for New Orleans. The title character appears in seven disguises and personalities in which he cleverly "wins the confidence" of passengers and the boat's barber in order to persuade them to make dubious investments from which only the con artist will profit.

Melville wrote this novel in his characteristic style which is dense in content and the conversations that the con artist engages each potential victim in are riddled with snares and ambiguities that require concentration from the reader.

Whenever any of the would-be "suckers" express doubt as to his genuineness the Confidence Man in any of his guises always comes up with lofty sounding denials such as this in Chapter 21:

"If you mean that I can in any way dupe you, or impose upon you, or pass myself off upon you for what I am not, I, as an honest man, answer that I have neither the inclination nor the power to do aught of the kind."

From some of the individual chapters I selected excerpts that have been edited and abridged to provide glimpses of the setting aboard the boat and the cast of characters.

I have limited my quotations primarily to those related to the steamboat and have not attempted to address the complexities of Melville's characterizations and events within the novel which is a formidable one to tackle.

For an in-depth analysis of the novel I recommend Professor Barry Goldensohn's "Melville's The Confidence Man and his Descendants in David Mamet's Work" which can be found online at this link: Google

What follows is a preview of the microcosm that exists aboard the steamboat Fidèle in Melville's CONFIDENCE MAN. A virtual solar system is represented in the last chapter with lamps suspended from the ceiling in the gentlemen's cabin in the last chapter:


from Chapter 1

On the first of April, there appeared a man in cream-colors, at the water-side in the city of St. Louis. He stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans.

A peddler was selling money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler hawked in the thick of the throng, the lives of Samuel Mason, the bandit of the Ohio, John Murrell, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the two Harpe brothers, the Thugs of the Green River country in Kentucky -- creatures, with others of the sort, who had all been exterminated by this time, however where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

The barber of the boat, whose quarters, under a smoking-saloon, and over against a bar-room, was next door but two to the captain's office. This river barber, aproned and slippered, but rather crusty-looking for the moment, it may be from being newly out of bed, was throwing open his premises for the day, and suitably arranging the exterior. With business-like dispatch, having rattled down his shutters, and at a palm-tree angle set out in the iron fixture his little ornamental pole, jumping on a stool, he hung over his door, on the customary nail, a gaudy sort of illuminated pasteboard sign, skillfully executed by himself, gilt with the likeness of a razor elbowed in readiness to shave, and also, for the public benefit, with two words not unfrequently seen ashore gracing other shops besides barbers':--"NO TRUST."

from Chapter 2

Now the boat started on her voyage. The Mississippi amply flowing between low, vine-tangled banks, flat as tow-paths, it bears the huge toppling steamers, bedizened and lacquered within like imperial junks.

Pierced along its great white bulk with two tiers of small embrasure-like windows, well above the waterline, the Fidèle, might at distance have been taken by strangers for some whitewashed fort on a floating isle.

Fine promenades, domed saloons, long galleries, sunny balconies, confidential passages, bridal chambers, state-rooms plenty as pigeon-holes, and out-of-the-way retreats like secret drawers in an escritoire, present like facilities for publicity or privacy.

Her voyage of twelve hundred miles extends from apple to orange, from clime to clime, and at every landing, the huge Fidèle still receives additional passengers in exchange for those that disembark.

Staring crowds on the shore were now left far behind, seen dimly clustering like swallows on eaves; while the passengers' attention was soon drawn away to the rapidly shooting high bluffs and shot-towers on the Missouri shore, or the bluff-looking Missourians and towering Kentuckians among the throngs on the decks.

As among Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims there was no lack of variety.

Natives of all sorts, and foreigners; men of business and men of pleasure; parlor men and backwoodsmen; farm-hunters and fame-hunters; heiress-hunters, gold-hunters, buffalo-hunters, bee-hunters, happiness-hunters, truth-hunters, and still keener hunters after all these hunters. Fine ladies in slippers, and moccasined squaws; Northern speculators and Eastern philosophers; English, Irish, German, Scotch, Danes; Santa Fé traders in striped blankets, and Broadway bucks in cravats of cloth of gold; fine-looking Kentucky boatmen, and Japanese-looking Mississippi cotton-planters; Quakers in full drab, and United States soldiers in full regimentals; slaves, black, mulatto, quadroon; modish young Spanish Creoles, and old-fashioned French Jews; Mormons and Papists Dives and Lazarus; jesters and mourners, teetotalers and convivialists, deacons and blacklegs; hard-shell Baptists and clay-eaters; grinning negroes, and Sioux chiefs solemn as high-priests.

Here reigned the dashing and all-fusing spirit of the West, whose type is the Mississippi itself, which, uniting the streams of the most distant and opposite zones, pours them along, helter-skelter, in one cosmopolitan and confident tide.

from Chapter 10

In the cabin were stools, settees, sofas, divans, ottomans; occupied by clusters of men, old and young, wise and simple; in their hands are cards spotted with diamonds, spades, clubs, hearts; the favorite games are whist, cribbage, and brag.

Wikipedia: "Three card brag is a 16th-century British card game, and the British national representative of the vying or "bluffing" family of gambling games. Brag is a direct descendant of the Elizabethan game of Primero and one of the several ancestors to poker, just varying in betting style and hand rankings."

from Chapter 20

The boat sided up to a landing, two passengers went ashore through an open guard, then "The plank's in, we're off." The huge boat, with a mighty, walrus wallow, rolled away from the shore, resuming her course.

from Chapter 45 (the last one in the novel)

In the middle of the gentleman's cabin burned a solar lamp, swung from the ceiling, and whose shade of ground glass was all round fancifully variegated, in transparency, with the image of a horned altar, from which flames rose, alternate with the figure of a robed man, his head encircled by a halo. The light of this lamp, after dazzlingly striking on marble, snow-white and round--the slab of a centre-table beneath--on all sides went rippling off with ever-diminishing distinctness, till, like circles from a stone dropped in water, the rays died dimly away in the furthest nook of the place.

Here and there, true to their place, but not to their function, swung other lamps, barren planets, which had either gone out from exhaustion, or been extinguished by such occupants of berths as the light annoyed, or who wanted to sleep, not see.

By a perverse man, in a berth not remote, the remaining lamp would have been extinguished as well, had not a steward forbade, saying that the commands of the captain required it to be kept burning till the natural light of day should come to relieve it. This steward, who, like many in his vocation, was apt to be a little free-spoken at times, had been provoked by the man's pertinacity to remind him, not only of the sad consequences which might, upon occasion, ensue from the cabin being left in darkness, but, also, of the circumstance that, in a place full of strangers, to show one's self anxious to produce darkness there, such an anxiety was, to say the least, not becoming. So the lamp--last survivor of many--burned on, inwardly blessed by those in some berths, and inwardly execrated by those in others.

As an "extra" illustration for THE CONFIDENCE MAN feature I located a sketch in the Murphy collection of the barber's domain aboard the RICHMOND (1867-74) that Mrs. Keyes wrote about in her novel STEAMBOAT GOTHIC.

You can insert the file of the illustration with the caption that I wrote for it between the 2nd paragraph in Chapter 1 and the 3rd paragraph which describes the barber's domain on the fictional steamboat "Fidèle" in Melville's novel. I put the text in italics as reference for you as to where the drawing goes above the paragraph about the barber in THE CONFIDENCE MAN chapters.


River-Boat Revival on the Ohio
by James A. Maxwell
The Saturday Evening Post
March 14, 1959 pages. 24-25

Color print photo of the ORCO

The caption reads:

A number of steam-driven sternwheelers help preserve some of the 19th century flavor of the Ohio. Steamboaters contemptuously say of newfangled towboats, "They don't have a decent whistle, only a bleating horn."

A clearer view of the starboard profile of the ORCO's in black and white is courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Steamboat Collection Photographs.

Orco (Towboat, 1955-1962)
Sternwheel Towboat

Built in 1936 as the Charles T. Campbell at Neville Island, Pennsylvania by Dravo
Decommissioned in 1962
Owned in 1955 by the Ohio River Company



Detail of the lower left hand corner of an 1870s Robert E. Sticker painting. A wonderful depiction of the towboat ALICE BROWN that is well worth sharing with the folks who tune in to our channel for nostalgic steamboat imagery. Also attached Bob's high angle point of view of the SPREAD EAGLE at Laclede's landing. Obituary for Bob Sticker from 2011 follows.

Published in Scranton Times on May 23, 2011

Robert E. Sticker, 88, of Pleasant Mount, died Saturday after a brief illness. His wife of 47 years is Nina Giuliano Sticker.

A native of New York and distinguished marine artist, Bob was a legend in the field of marine art. His interest in painting was lifelong. Growing up in Staten Island, N.Y., and watching the incredible activity in New York Harbor sparked an interest in the sea that intensified over the years. When World War II was declared, Bob enlisted to serve his country and chose the Navy for his love of the sea. He was assigned to officers candidate training and appointed captain of the crew of a PBY.

Over the years, he created a body of work that is singularly compelling and dramatic, and reflects the honor, respect and integrity with which he lived his life. He is widely recognized for the accuracy of his research and his unique ability to depict the drama of the human aspect of life at sea, with great compassion and poignancy, and has quietly amassed a national following for his unique and beautiful paintings.

Bob was a founding member of the American Society of Marine Artists and was also the recipient of awards from the Franklin Mint and Mystic Seaport. His paintings are included in Bound for Blue Waters, a book that is a definitive collection of the best American marine art of the 20th and early 21st century. His work is also included in the corporate collections of IBM, Union Carbide and AT&T and in numerous private collections

Also surviving are two beloved children: a son, Robert Edward Sticker Jr. and wife, Reiko; and a daughter, Marisa Sticker Volz and husband, Rick; and his equally beloved grandchildren, Reimi Gabrielle Sticker and Ale Richard Volz.

The funeral will be Wednesday from the Lawrence A. Gabriel Funeral Home, 74 N. Main St., Carbondale, with Mass at 9:30 a.m. in St. James Church, Pleasant Mount. Interment will be in St. James Cemetery, Pleasant Mount.

Friends may call Tuesday, 4 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Marian Community Hospital, 100 Lincoln Ave., Carbondale.


This Murphy photo of the CITY OF MOBILE taken at the Mobile wharf looks like a scene from a movie. I "posterized" it a bit and graduated the color from blue above to sepia below.

Sternwheel Packet
Way's Packet Directory Number 1105
Built at Mobile, Alabama, 1898
Owned by the Peoples Line
Captain G.W. Quaries
Alabama and Tombigbee rivers
Wrecked in a hurricane at Mobile, Alabama, July 1916, was dismantled

Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Steamboat Collection Photographs.


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.*