The trendy dog of 1850

In the classified ads of the mid-19th-century New York Herald, I’ve spotted terriers, poodles, and setters. But most often I see Newfoundlands. On 19 June 1851: “FOUND—YESTERDAY, A NEWFOUNDLAND DOG.—Apply at 10 Wall street, room 14, between 12 and 2.” (Evidently the dog was free to visit the office of the lawyer or broker who had found him.) On 18 May 1851: “THE MAMMOTH NEWFOUNDLAND ST. BERNARD Dog, 16 months old—For sale at 205 Water street.”

The New York Tribune critic Margaret Fuller had a Newfoundland. Her would-be lover James Nathan left her the puppy (and a symbolic white veil) when he went off to England with another woman-friend. “I have a fine Newfoundland dog, who is my companion on the rocks; he is as much to me as the willow,” Fuller wrote to a friend (Letters 4:132). To Nathan himself, she reported, “I take Josey out with me; he is very gay, but does not mind me well. I cannot get him into the water at all; last night I had to ask some boys to throw him in” (4:114).

While in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the New Yorker Herman Melville may also have owned a Newfoundland. According to Julian Hawthorne, the less than fully reliably son of the novelist Nathaniel, Melville had “a black Newfoundland dog, shaggy like himself, good natured and simple” (qtd. in Parker, Herman Melville 1:813).

2 thoughts on “The trendy dog of 1850”

  1. I found your Newfoundland as the "Trendy Dog of 1850" when I Googled "Newfoundland Dog 1850". I was researching a painting by Thomas Hewes Hinckley, of Milton, Massachusetts, signed and dated 1850 and originally titled: "Landscape: Cattle, Woman, Boy and Newfoundland Dog".The previous year Hinckley had painted as a gift "Head of Newfoundland Dog 'Monarch'" for the same buyer, Charles R. Green(e) of New York City, as the 1850 painting. It is possible that the 1850 painting incorporates the same dog. Green made another purchase from Hinckley in 1851 of a "Buck at Bay," making him a fairly importaint patron for the painter in 1849-51.

Comments are closed.