Donaldson Brothers Lithographers, Five Points, Manhattan, NY

See the prior post and our B. J. Stone trade card.

Donaldson Bros, circa 1872 – 1891

Donaldson Brothers was a very successful lithography and printing company which ran from about 1872 to 1891 before being consolidated with the American Lithographic Company. According to Frank’s obit appearing in the weekly publication American Stationers, it was Frank who founded Donaldson Bros., and this may be correct, but we wouldn’t want to assume, since this is a statement from one source. Our short write-up on this litho firm is just skimming the surface with a few details, as in-depth would be quite time-consuming. In any case, the firm was Frank J., George W., John L. and Robert M.,  all born in Edinburgh, Scotland of parents John Donaldson and Barbara Hume (Montgomery) Donaldson. The family emigrated to the U.S. in 1856. The 1860 Federal Census finds the family living in Brooklyn, NY. The 1878 New York City directory shows all four brothers as lithographers at the address of 2 Mission Place, New York, which was in the Five Points neighborhood in Lower Manhattan.

Below, Frank J. Donaldson’s obituary appearing in American Stationer, June 1896.

Below, a couple of clips from a lengthy article from the New York Times on the fire in Five Points that took place December 9, 1875, from which, of course, the company rebuilt (with improvements).

Sources:  Donaldson Brothers 1872 – 1891 “D – Publishers.” MetroPostcard. (accessed November 4, 2017).

Trow’s New York City Directory, 1878. Vol. 91, p. 356. (

Year: 1880; Census Place: Cranford, Union, New Jersey; Roll: 800; Family History Film: 1254800; Page: 201B; Enumeration District: 171. (

Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls. (

George William Donaldson. Find A Grave Memorial# 63258205.

American Stationer, Vol. 39. Number 24, June 11, 1896. p. 1012. (

“Fire at the Five Points.” New York Times, December 10, 1875. Friday, p. 8. (

15 thoughts on “Donaldson Brothers Lithographers, Five Points, Manhattan, NY

  1. Very nice write-up with useful primary sources. Thank you! Fun fact: Donaldson Brothers acted as lithographers for Buchner Gold Coin Tobacco Company when they created some of the very first baseball cards in 1887. They’re known as series N284, and also featured the likes of then-famous actors, horse jockeys, police officers, and fire chiefs.

  2. Thanks Jesse, and thanks very much for the extra info! That’s unexpected regarding the police officers and fire chiefs. Makes me wonder if litho companies in other parts of the country were doing the same.

  3. I have a very large lithograph that has been framed and titled, The Christian Graces.. faith hope and charity. It is signed Donaldson brothers Five Points New York. I purchased this at an auction many years ago in New York . Just thought I’d add that information if there is any interest. It is approx 32” x 21” not including antique frame.

  4. I’m looking for any information on, what I believe, is a print. The title is “Comrades”. The copyright date is 1893 by Donaldson Brothers,NY. The print is 14″ X 28″ and it’s mounted in a wooden gold frame. Is it worth anything?

  5. Hi Jim, You’d probably want to bring the item to an antique dealer or auction house for an appraisal. Plus the frame might add to the value somewhat, depending on age, style and condition. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but best of luck!

  6. I have a water color painting marked A WARM DAY from Donaldson and brothers to PHIL INQUIRE AUGUST 4 1895 It also is signed on back by several people is it worth anything. I cant find anything information

    • Oops, I had meant to post this comment earlier. I had emailed you, Kate, that I hadn’t found anything, either. But, maybe someone else will know. (Of course, check with a art dealer, for the value of the water color.)

  7. I have a litho print called “A Good Shot” that has a Donaldson Bros copyright dated 1895. Subject is a hunter shooting woodcock with his dogs. Artist is C Spiegle. I’m hoping to get more info on the print and its value. Has a beautiful old frame.
    If anyone has any information that would be helpful.
    Thanks, Bill Mercer

  8. Hate to resurrect a thread, but I have a framed Lord’s Prayer that I received after my Mother’s passing. Donaldson Brothers on the bottom right. I remember her acquiring it in an antique shop in the very early 70s. How would I go about verifying if it is a reprint or not?

  9. Hi Jamie, resurrect away! Though, I’m not an expert on how to tell a real litho. I just Googled “antique lithographs how to verify authenticity,” You can really find out a lot that way. There are lots of good sites – too numerous to copy links here. But get a magnifying glass so you can take a look at it up close. If you really are unsure after that you could take it to a good antique dealer or auction house if either have experience with lithographs. Sorry to pass the buck and not be able to give you a quick and easy answer. But you’ll be better off looking at the detailed “how to” info on other sites and blogs. Best of luck, hope yours is the real deal!

  10. I have an old framed lithograph titled Burial of the pet bird which I believe was done at the Donaldson Bothers. Do you have any info ?

  11. Hey Jeff,

    The only thing I’m finding is:
    According to this link, that particular title was by E. G. Rideout & Co., New York, and is estimated circa 1890’s. The auction has Rideout & Co. incorrectly listed as “E. C. Rideout” – the G is easily mistaken for a C. And in looking up the name in, the business starts showing up as of year 1880.

    Best regards and thanks for posting your question,


  12. I have a litho print called “A Close Call” that has a Donaldson Bros copyright on it, but I don’t see a date. Subject is a hunting dog, named “Swipes”, chasing a cat up a tree. I’m assuming that the Artist is C Spiegle, as it has the initials CS in the lower left corner. I’m hoping to get more info on the print. I’m not interested in a value, as this litho has been in our family for well over 130 years now – I’m the fourth generation owner. Has a beautiful old frame, unfortunately with minor damage.
    If anyone has any information that would be helpful.

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