Bufford Civil War Battle Scene Album Cards and a Variation

John Henry Bufford was one of America’s first chromolithographers, using many stones and colors for a single piece of work. The earliest Bufford chromolithographed sheet music I have is dated 1847.

Bufford was most prolific in the late 1850s and the 1860s, having large operations in both Boston (where he originally was) and New York.

Bufford made somewhere around 2 dozen sets of Album Cards on a variety of subjects. Some of the most popular are the Civil War Battle Scenes, of which there are 2 sets of 12 cards each.

The cards are CDV size (2.5 x 4 inches) and depict many different battles of the Civil War. Once I had about 10 cards but they went in a deal some years back and I’m slowly accumulating again.

My most recent pickup, “Attack on New Orleans”, is one I had previously. I also had the “Attack on Sumpter” card. Figure one shows the Sumpter card.

Figure 1: J.H. Bufford Civil War Battle Scene from the second set of 12

The second card, shown in figure 2, is the New Orleans card.

I do have an older image from the other “Attack on New Orleans” card I had and the Bufford is also a typo, I’m not sure what the lithographer was even going for. The second set has a much clearer attribution to Bufford Boston.

What’s most interesting to me is that the New Orleans Card is 1/8 x 1/4 shorter than the Sumpter card but the margins are correctly proportioned. I have not come across another one of these “smaller” Bufford Album cards in any series. Figure 3 shows the discrepancy in size.

Figure 3: the 2 cards and the size difference.

It’s a mystery to me but it’s not the first time I’ve seen such size discrepancy in Album Cards in general. I have a Prang “Scenes in Boston Harbor” card that is about 1/8 to 1/4 oversize — but I’ll save that one for another day.

If anyone has any thoughts or other examples I would love to see them.

As always, happy collecting!

I am nuts about early album cards from the 1860s-70s. And other cards and small lithographs. This space is to talk about all of them.