Title: Illustration of illuminated spoon, made for Harper’s Weekly Magazine (TGF Catalogue No. 425.######)

Gallery Location: Brunswick 

Artist: Leon Lappelson


Graphite etching, ink

Lappelson, known in his time as New York City’s most prominent draftsman and etcher, produced this illustration for an 1862 edition of Harper’s Weekly Magazine. Ordinarily contracted for Harper’s most significant artwork (high profile jury trials, presidential inaugurations, and the like) Lappelson actually requested this commission himself.

Lappelson, a New England man, claimed that the story had struck a personal chord with him. However, he refused to defend the story — or Harper’s — when allegations arose that the account was a hoax. According to a contemporary report, “the town turned against the magazine. A mob of men banged on the doors of the main office, demanding a formal retraction or the head of the editor.”

In a letter written to his friend, the Boston-based journalist Josiah Davids, Lappelson wrote, “I can attest, beyond a doubt, that that story was not a hoax. It was, by no means, an attempt on the part of Harper’s to garner new readers or drum up sensationalist support, though I acknowledge that that sort of thing is all to common these days. No, indeed, I even dare say I know the cause of that illuminated apparition, having seen things in my travels east that would stagger a weaker man, and have heard accounts of other similar wonders, though none had — as of then — reached our shores. I cannot go further in explaining how I know these things, but rest assured that the account given was not fallacious.”