The American Pony Express, en route from the Missouri River to San Francisco

The American Pony Express, en route from the Missouri River to San
An extremely rare contemporary drawing of a Pony Express rider. In the spring of 1860, Illustrated London News publisher Herbert Ingram brought artist George Henry Andrews to the United States to cover the state visit of the Prince of Wales. Andrew's tour of the United States coincided with the brief running of the Pony Express, which carried telegrams and mail from St. Joseph Missouri to the Pacific Coast from April 1860 to October 1861 before the transcontinental telegraph rendered the service obsolete. While in St. Joseph, Missouri Andrews had the opportunity to witness one of the riders coming in from the Great Plains and produced the present drawing. It is believed to be the only eyewitness drawing of a Pony Express rider extant.

An engraving of Andrews's work appeared in the 12 October 1861 issue of the Illustrated London News, which reported that, "Our Artist saw one of the expresses arrive at St. Joe. The young man who rode was a long, wiry reddish-haired chap, who looked made to galop through the world on a horse’s back. He wore a red worsted shirt, a rowdy hat, and a long, light blue great-coat, with a little cope and plenty of brass buttons. This young man had ridden on one occasion two hundred miles in twenty-four hours without rest or food except such as he could get on the poney’s back. The rider usually rides fifty miles, using two ponies, who run twenty-five miles each..." (p. 386-7). Andrews's work was also adapted as a lithograph published in Boston in the 1860s by Buford's Print Publishing House and entitled, The Persuit [sic].
Pencil, pen and black and sepia inks on paper
248 x 348mm (93/4 x 133⁄4 in.)
George Henry Andrews (his sale), Christie's, 5 June 1899, lot 54.

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Sallie Glover
Sallie Glover Associate Specialist, Americana

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