Charles J. Dodge

 

DODGE, CHARLES J.
(1806–1886)
was an accomplished ships’ figurehead and shop figure carver who operated a carving shop in New York City. Many of his talents were learned from his father,Jeremiah Dodge (1781–1860), the son of a shipwright. Jeremiah enjoyed a brief carving partnership with Simeon Skillin III (1766–1830), in the period from 1804 to1806; became the partner of Cornelius Sharp (dates unknown), between 1815 and 1821; and finally during the period of 1833 to 1839 partnered with son Charles(1806–1886), who eventually took over the business. Historian Ralph Sessions notes that the best work from the shop showed accomplished woodcarving, matchedwith the academic standards used in marble carving, and that the figures were distinctive and individualized, with well-modeled faces and boldly swirling hair. A paintedwoodcarving of the god
Hercules
from the USS
Ohio,
of about 1820, is identified as carved by Jeremiah Dodge and Cornelius Sharp. Charles Dodge later becamethe partner of respected carver Jacob Anderson (1810–1855), from 1843 to 1847. The 1850
Products of Industry Schedule of the Federal Census,
reviewed by Sessions, lists the Dodge shop as having four employees and carvings worth$3,250. The city directories of that period locate the shop at 253 South Street, adjacent to the East River, in New York City.A well-known carving by either Charles Dodge or his father is of the head of
President Andrew Jackson,
dated about 1835, commissioned to replace a head takenfrom the full-bodied ships’ figurehead of Jackson on the USS
Constitution.
Charles Dodge is identified as the carver of a portrait bust of his father, about 1835, whichremained in the family until it was given to the New-York Historical Society in 1952. In 1883 a
Harper’s Weekly
journalist wrote about an “Old Jim Crow, a famousfigure cut forty years ago [1843] by ‘Charley’ Dodge—now dead and gone.” The journalist found the figure, being used as a shop figure in a hotel, after it had beenrepaired by a Canal Street carving workshop, thought to be that of Samuel Anderson Robb (1851–1928). By 1860 Dodge, listed as a deputy tax commissioner in thatyear’s directory, is thought to have abandoned carving. Later records from 1870 list him as a New York City alderman, assessor, tax commissioner, and as a colonelin the tenth regiment of the New York State militia.
See also
Ships’ Figureheads; Shop Figures
.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Brewington, M.V.
Shipcarvers of North America.
New York, 1972.Fried, Frederick.
Artists in Wood: American Carvers of Cigar-Store Indians, Show Figures, and Circus Wagons.
New York, 1970. Norton, Peter.
Ships’ Figureheads.
New York, 1976.Pinckney, Pauline A.
American Figureheads and Their Carvers.
Port Washington, N.Y., 1969