Sherman Foote Denton Fish Prints
Sooner or later every serious angler gets a hankering for some fish art. Maybe its only stickers on your truck window, or a decal on your stripping basket. Fine by me. But it could also be a nice framed piece of art on your mancave wall. Go for it my friend!
Eons ago, when I was teaching in Albany, New York, I wandered into a antique shop hoping to find old fly gear. On a table near the front door was a pile of fish prints, that immediately caught my eye. Ummm really nice. So I picked up a short stack, thumbed through them and then inquired on the price. “Three bucks each you say?” Sold.
They were chromolithographs done by artist, naturalist S. F. Denton. The one above is a Squeteague or weakfish. Squeteague is an Algonquian word meaning fish of many colors. Please forgive the reflections in the photo. It was shot behind glass. But at least it gives you some idea of the accuracy and image quality.
Sherman was quite a talent in his day. (So was his father for that matter) He was so good the State of New York commissioned him to document all the wildlife in the state. Then New York published the artwork, from 1895 to 1909, in their The Fish and Game of the State of New York Annual Reports. These mighty tomes were chockablock filled with bound Denton plates. They were nearly 100 fresh and saltwater fish in each issue. (Along with a ton of wild life). And in one annual, the state also add a complete unbound portfolio in the rear, ready for framing. Amazing. Those were the days.
Today you can easily find Denton fish prints on the internet. Some are 100 year old originals. The background is a light grey and the prints measures about 9″-12″. Prices vary widely, however. From $20 each to over $100. So search around for the best price. On the other hand, copies are typically dirt cheap, although the quality is often inferior. If you really like Denton’s work you might look on line for one of those annual reports. An intact one will have a huge number of plates, and cost under $200. Quite a deal.