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An American New Jerusalem Broadside and a Pellerin Woodcut

peters new jerusalem with headlinew*The following article about the "New Jerusalem" broadside is part of an excerpt written by Corinne Earnest in 2014 for the Earnest Archives and Library. She has graciously allowed Passed Time to use it. Image Courtesy of EAL. 
 This is a popular Pennsylvania German broadside (paper printed on one side) called by various names such as "New Jerusalem," "The Three Paths," "Paths to Heaven and Hell," and "The Broad and Narrow Way." The theme and visual appearance of this broadside came directly from Europe. According to the late Christa Pieske of Luebeck in her article, "The European Origins of Four Pennsylvania German Broadsheet Themes," broadsides such as the New Jerusalem had wide circulation.* Pieske was unable to determine when New Jerusalem broadsidesbecame popular in Europe, but she believed the first known example appeared in Switzerland by the end of the eighteenth century.
In America, all known copies of the New Jerusalem were printed in southeastern Pennsylvania. Gustav S. Peters (1793-1847) published numerous German- and English-language editions while in Harrisburg from 1827-1847. Other Pennsylvania printers who published the New Jerusalem included Herman William DeVille, better known as Herman Ville (1789-1842) of Lancaster. J.G. Struphar of Annville in Lebanon County, and an anonymous printer.
However, the number of printers who attempted such a complex scene were few. Editions printed by Peters stand out for two reasons. Peters shows a black man among the pilgrims who will reach Heaven. African Americans are exceedingly rare in eighteenth and nineteenth century art produced by Pennsylvania Germans. Also, Peters printed his New Jerusalem broadsides in color, whereas Villee hand-colored his sheets. Peters is known for being the first printer in America to become successful with color printing for a commercial market. Copying Peters, Struphar also printed in color, but his New Jerusalem broadsides were copyrighted in 1923, and by then, color printing had become common. Many Pennsylvania German broadsides include hand-decoration and color. Consequently, they are frequently lumped with the genre of fraktur (18th and 19th century Pennsylvania German illuminated manuscripts and printed forms). The New Jerusalem is a broadside, not a fraktur, but most people shrug off this technicality and accept the imaagery as part of the fraktur culture. Corinne Earnest, Earnest Archives and Library, 2014
*Christa Pieska, "The European Origins of Four Pennsylvania German Broadsheet Themes: Adam and Eve; the New Jerusaslem - The Broad and Narrow way; the Unjust Judgment; the Stages of Life." Der Reggeboge 23 (1989) 1, pp 13-22
  To continue the New Jerusalem broadside story, and shed light on how they were created,  a friend recently sent me the following article and photograph, about one of the French versions of the New Jerusalem, created by Pellerin. The following information about Pellerin was found at The Philadelphia Print Shop, LTD.*
     Jean-Charles Pellerin (1756-1836) was a clock maker in Épinal. He had the idea to expand production of wood engraved religious images to secular ones also, all for popular consumption. Pellerin's studio originated the print industry in Épinal. Pellerin taught his trade to Réveillé, an imperial soldier, who recorded his memories of the campaigns. Réveillé then taught François Georgin (1801-1863), who continued the firm. Later the firm moved to Paris. *
     This is a rough translation of the specifics in the original article ( provided below), as they pertain to Pellerin's woodcut. "New Jerusalem imagery Pellerin (1824).... Pellerin is a masterpiece in this case: the writer of this image had knowledge and skill to dig [gouge] the ... plate .... The gesture was final, no repentance is possible. Patience was essential. It was also necessary to imagine his drawing in reverse, [to know how to] create those travelers heading for Paradise: violinist, companion, soldier, children, women in their Sunday best ... heaven or hell. The color would then give life to the image, in some places, but the line was the drawing of the structure...."

Martine Sadion, conservateur en chef du Musée de l’image d’Epinal, aurait bien choisi le tableau du Caravage, peintre italien, exposé au musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy. Mais elle a privilégié la fibre régionale en optant pour un bois de La Nouvelle Jérusalem, imagerie Pellerin (1824), de son musée : «  Le chef-d’œuvre est aussi un mot de compagnon, d’ouvrier. Ce bois du tout début du 19 e siècle de l’imagerie Pellerin est bien un chef-d’œuvre dans ce cas : le graveur de cette image avait savoir-faire et habileté pour creuser à la gouge la planche de fruitier qui était sa matière première. Le geste était définitif, aucun repentir n’était possible. La patience était essentielle. Il fallait aussi savoir imaginer son dessin à l’envers, créer ces voyageurs en route pour le Paradis : violoniste, compagnon, soldat, enfants, femmes endimanchées… paradis ou enfer. La couleur allait ensuite donner vie à l’image, à certains endroits, mais le trait était la structure du dessin : sans lui, l’image perdait sa lisibilité et son sens. Le bois, désormais objet de collection, est imprégné d’encre. La patine noire transforme le bois en bloc de graphite, le noir est brillant ou mat, velouté ou abrupt… On pourrait presque y voir les noirs de Soulages. L’objet pourrait être autre. Link to Original Article 

*The Philadelphia Print Shop, LTD. has some Napoleanic prints that Pellerin produced, which are amazing. I highly recommend taking a look.

Author Pat Earnest, currently lives in Dover, Delaware, with family, both two- and four-footed. I am a published author and history enthusiast, who has great regard for the past and is especially proud of the Pennsylvania German culture. In addition to Passed Time, I am currently working on a project for the German Historical Institutes Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies ( I also contribute to various newsletters and I am working on another book...or two. Feel free to email me at with queries, comments, suggestions, etc. etc. . Please be aware, Files With Attachments will not be opened, but immediately deleted.



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