American Pharaoh has won the Triple Crown of American horse racing—the first thoroughbred to do so in 37 years. His name will be remembered alongside that of Secretariat, Affirmed, and other great horses. However, he will not be commemorated in a Stevengraph.
Stevengraphs were woven silk pictures made during the later decades of the 19th century at the firm of Thomas Stevens in Coventry, England. Stevens was a ribbon manufacturer, who faced possible bankruptcy when fashion dictated that feathers rather than ribbons were the proper trim for ladies’ hats. To avoid this fate, Stevens turned his looms to producing woven bookmarks and small pictures in silk. These depicted famous people and events, including the winning of the Epsom Derby in 1881 by Iroquois, an American bred horse. Iroquois and his jockey Fred Archer continued on to win the St. Leger, the second of three races in the English Triple Crown. Despite a second place showing in the first of the three races (the 2,000 Guineas), the horse and jockey enjoyed fame both in England and America. Iroquois’ reputation even boosted attendance at American racetracks. Perhaps that is why Kate Mattingly Edwards of West Virginia had a Stevengraph depicting Iroquois and included it in her elaborate crazy quilt, which is currently on exhibition in the Jean and Allan Berman Textile Gallery at the BMA.