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Displaying items by tag: German Origins

Many of the most beloved American holiday traditions have their roots in southeastern Pennsylvania, where German-speaking immigrants introduced customs such as the Christmas tree, the Easter bunny, and colored eggs.1 Last year Winterthur Museum was fortunate to acquire one of the earliest known American depictions of the Easter bunny—a rare Pennsylvania German fraktur that depicts a leaping rabbit carrying a basket of colorful Easter eggs (Fig. 1).2 This charming drawing can be firmly attributed to schoolmaster and fraktur artist Johann Conrad Gilbert (1734–1812), who emigrated from Germany in 1757 and settled in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. About 1780, he moved to Berks County, where he lived until his death in 1812.3 A similar drawing, also attributed to Gilbert, is in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg. Gilbert likely made both examples as gifts for students as it was common practice for schoolmasters to give their pupils small drawings as a reward, often in March or April, when the school term ended prior to springtime planting.
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