Hershey Family Donates Fraktur
Recently Hiram R. and Mary Jane Lederach Hershey, Mennonite collectors of Harleysville, Pennsylvania, donated to the Historical Society a rare eighteen-volume 1789-98 pictorial encyclopedia and twelve pieces of fraktur, mostly related to Mennonite and Amish families or artists in the Lancaster County area. Several items came from Hiram’s East Petersburg Hershey family line, and some were purchased at auctions over the years.
Two bookplates by Lancaster County Amish folk artist Barbara Ebersol, a dwarf, include a double cross-stitch-flowers design (1863) and a colorful tulip (1874), respectively. A book by an unknown artist contains a bookplate for Catharine Hershey in 1845. In 1873 Reuben Byer, probably a schoolboy, made a specimen painting of a pear on a branch.
Five stylistically similar paintings of names and/or words on blue-lined notebook paper indicate connections to the Landis or Risser families.
An exquisite Vorschrift (writing sample) by an unknown teacher and three small rewards of merit, one dated 1792 and the others undated but obviously by the same hand and time period, exhibit fine artistic ability and careful penmanship. Another beautiful Vorschrift, made by or for Jacob Hostetter in 1803, may have been owned by the later Manheim area Mennonite Bishop Jacob Hostetter (1774-1865), a distant relative of donor Hiram Hershey. Included is a 1946 Pennypacker auction brochure of the estate of antiques collector Mrs. Albert (Ida) Hostetter, where Hiram’s mother, Adele Hostetter Hershey, purchased it.
Two other fraktur items in this gift include a probably European baptismal certificate (1726) for a Hans Schmiet and a bookplate by Charles E. Muench for Anna Maria Krum of Sheafferstown, then Dauphin County, but now Lebanon County.
According to museum curator Carolyn C. Wenger, “we are thrilled to receive these mostly local items, which augment our holdings of Mennonite and Amish folk art to share with researchers and the public. The Hersheys have been wonderful caretakers of this family collection and generous donors to us in the past as well in returning similar types of artifacts to their home area.”
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