In this period no image was more striking than the several lithographs depicting the 1845 Swallow disaster. This was a notable a steamboat explosion captured in a variety of early views by Currier and Ives and other masters of the genre that made topical news into a new form of art.
McKinney also singled out a 1929 painting of the town of Rondout looking east by artist N. Luici. Rondout was once the terminus for coal mined in Pennsylvania to move East by barge to provide heat and light to Manhattan. But he said by the 1880s and the emerging dominance of railroads the town disappeared, merged with neighboring Kingston in 1884-86. Despite its early prominence, he said, visual reminders of Rondout were few and far between.
An image with quite a bit of personal significance to McKinney was a large illustrated 1856 broadside for Liberty Stove Works. McKinney, once the owner of America’s largest wood stove firm, noted he owns about a dozen antique broadsides featuring early wood stoves.
He was also keen on the work of George Bellows whose 1922 painting of Woodstock is displayed in the living room.
A large map of New York State published by Paraclete Potter of Poughkeepsie in 1815 was among many items spread out on the dining room table for easy reference.
For McKinney the high point of the morning was meeting the other collectors who flocked to enjoy his hospitality and provided “the intellectual sparks” as well as non-stop conversation as they exchanged comments on their respective collecting interests. Many roamed up and down the stairs while others congregated around the coffee in the kitchen. “To be with my own kind in my own house, was so much fun, just a wonderful experience…as good as it gets.”
Commenting on the genesis of the McKinney event Eric Holzenberg, head of the NYC based Grolier Club said, “The club organizes get-togethers every few months throughout our September-May events ‘season’ wherever there happens to be a major book fair: San Francisco/LA on alternate years in February; New York in April; Boston in November; London in June; and sometimes Paris.
“The roster of events for members includes visits to major institutional and private collections of rare books and manuscripts, as well as receptions, to which members are encouraged to bring guests. The purpose of these visits is to mix populations of local and visiting Grolier Club members,” he said, “and to expose prospective members to the benefits of membership.”