Although Richard E. Bishop was best known as an artist, author, photographer, and sportsman, his formal training and first career was engineering. He was born in Syracuse, New York on May 30, 1887, the son of a railroad man.
His father was an ardent hunter of ducks and geese and trained his son at a tender age in the religion called waterfowl hunting. After graduating from Syracuse High School, Bishop entered Cornell University and graduated in 1909 with a Master of Engineering degree and went to work as an electrical engineer for the Cutler-Hammer Manufacturing Company in Milwaukee.
After four years in the military, he and his wife moved to Philadelphia where he worked at a manufacturing plant as both Secretary and Sales Manager, positions he held until his retirement from business in 1933. Bishop’s career as an artist began, largely by accident, in 1920. He was in charge of a plant that fabricated copper products. Discarded copper printing plates were often brought in, to be melted down and “recycled.”
This struck Bishop as a waste, so one day he rescued a plate, covered it with wax, and etched a portrait—human, not avian—using a phonograph needle as his stylus. Four years later, his “Canada Geese” won the Charles M. Lea prize awarded by the Philadelphia Print Club.
Although Bishop learned the basics of printmaking from the eminent graphic artist Ernest Roth of the Connecticut School, in most respects he was self-taught. He appropriated the techniques and nuances of the intaglio media—etching, drypoint, and aquatint—
through trial and error, relying on his critical, engineer’s eye to guide his hand. He built his own printing press for his limited editions, keeping the entire printmaking process in his own hands.
In 1936, J. N. “Ding” Darling, then Chief of the U. S. Biological Survey, asked Bishop if his elegant drypoint of Canada Geese, “Coming In,” could be the basis for the third Federal Duck Stamp. Bishop agreed, with the stipulation that he be granted complete control over the final design.
It marked the first and last time such control was extended. The Bishop stamp was unique in that the image itself was free from lettering; the printing appeared outside the borders. It was also the first stamp to be made into a print. Bishop was an astute businessman, as Malcolm Rowe puts it, “He was never one to miss a profit center.”
In 1950 and 1953, he organized two African safaris, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History (NYC) to record native birds and animals on film and soundtrack. In addition to his African travels, Bishop traveled throughout North and South America, the United Kingdom, and the Pacific Islands.
Bishop photographed birds using single-lens photography and high-speed-motion picture cameras to capture their graceful movements. He was a member of the Philadelphia Print Club, the Chicago Society of Etchers, the Philadelphia Society of Etchers, the Society of American Etchers, the Philadelphia Sketch Club, the Philadelphia Watercolor Club, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and California Printmakers. The artist died in 1975 at the age of 87.
- Harry Henderson Cutler and Edward West Hammer incorporate the Cutler-Hammer Manufacturing Co. in 1893, specializing in electric starters, speed regulators, and field rheostats. They developed the first automatic motor starter patented by Cutler in 1900, laying the foundation for the modern motor control industry, and in 1901 the company designed the control equipment for the Panama Canal. By the 1930s, engineers at Cutler-Hammer had obtained 28 patents for the use of vacuum tubes to control heavy currents. Cutler-Hammer became part of Eaton in 1978 bringing over $500 million in sales of a complete portfolio of power control and switching devices. [Back]
- The Chemical Corps is the branch of the United States Army tasked with defending against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. The Chemical Warfare Service was established on June 28, 1918, combining activities that until then had been dispersed among five separate agencies of the United States federal government. It was made a permanent branch of the Regular Army by the National Defense Act of 1920. In 1945, it was redesignated the Chemical Corps. [Back]