Friday, April 20, 2018

Manuscript Society and Fresh from the Conservator

Bronze relief tomb decoration from
Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite  Co. 1910s.
This morning we welcomed the Manuscript Society, who are in town for their annual meeting, to SEAA to talk to them about our holdings and history. We brought out four watercolor presentation proposals from 1920 for the Joseph Vaccaro tomb in Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, by the Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Company. The drawings were just returned from the conservator by Howard-Tilton Library's conservation librarian, Sabrena Johnson. Done in a large-scale on acidic cardboard-like illustration board, the drawings were brittle, missing portions, cracked and broken, and had darkened from the board's acidity. Sabrena had the conservator, Bridget Broadley of New Orleans, deacidify, repair cracks, replace missing portions, and wash the drawings to remove much of the darkening, and make them strong enough to hang in future exhibits. 

We also brought out other items from our Weiblen records, including bronze tomb reliefs, plaster models, which were used to give potential clients an idea of scale and design, photographs, art glass samples, and an enameled metal sign used to identify newly constructed Weiblen tombs from the 1920s.

The four watercolor drawings were presented to client Joseph Vaccaro, but apparently rejected by him, as the photos of the as-built tomb show a different design. Drawings for the built design were not included with the company's records when they were given to Tulane by Stewart Enterprises, Inc., who purchased the Weiblen company and its office contents in 1969. Joseph Vaccaro, along with his brothers Luca and Felix, and Salvatore D'Antoni, formed the Standard Fruit and Steamship Company in New Orleans in the early part of the 20th century. The company eventually became Dole Fruit.



Top: Weiblen stone cutters and plant employees, 1931. Bottom: Weiblen office staff, including John Weiblen, son of Albert, 4th from left, 1931.

Top photo: Weiblen offices and showroom, City Park Avenue, New Orleans, December 1940.
Caryatids designed by A. Goddard flanking entrance were from the demolished 1883
New Orleans Cotton Exchange building at Carondelet and Gravier Streets.
Bottom: Enameled metal sign used by Weiblen for newly completed tombs. 1920s.



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