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Patrick W. (PW) Costello (1866-1935)

Master Penman, Designer, Engrosser & Illustrator

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PW Costello Business Ad - Established 1890 PW Costello Business Ad

PW. Costello designed many billheads, such as the 1901 above, as well as this undated Hotel Jermyn letterhead.

John Mitchell Engrossing – 1900 (PW Costello)
Throughout his 45-year career as an artist in Scranton, P.W. Costello created hundreds of engrossings honoring prominent figures across all facets of the community. Surely none carried greater personal meaning for the artist than the document he created in 1900 honoring renowned labor leader John Mitchell. It was uniquely reminiscent of his own life story as a former breaker boy and son of a miner who worked long hours in unsafe conditions for meager wages.

By 1900, Costello had three sons of his own, two of them only a few years younger than he was when he left school in 1877 and went to work at the Bellevue Breaker working 10 hour days for four cents an hour. His admiration for John Mitchell and his efforts to halt the coal industry’s oppression of young children and their coal miner fathers is evident in the message of the lettered text and in the superb artistic quality of the engrossing.

On October 27, 1900 at the Pine Brook Colliery in Scranton, slatepicker “Master Bennie Phillips” presented John Mitchell, President of the United Mine Workers of America, with a gold badge on behalf of the breaker boys of the Anthracite Region” as “a token of our love and respect.”

Using glowing language, Phillips compared Mitchell's character to Abraham Lincoln’s and his untiring advocacy in support of coal miners to Lincoln's freeing of the slaves. Mitchell was described as a great leader and friend, a “savior” who “came into the Anthracite Coal Region and seeing us little boys being forced to work in the breaker under the lawful age in order to help our fathers support the family because they did not earn enough themselves to keep us in school…He gave our fathers orders to strike so they could earn better wages so we could go to school.” Phillips viewed Mitchell’s overall objective in even loftier terms: “to get our fathers such a portion of what they really earn as to be able to send us to college.” He ended with this quote:

“Long may he live as a champion of freedom;
Long may he reign and be ready when we need him.”

Mitchell played a key role in settling a railroad and coal strike in 1900, which led to better wages and work hours for the miners. He also led organizational efforts to exert political pressure on the PA Legislature to pass enforceable child labor laws.

Mitchell was “deified” in Scranton and throughout the Anthracite Region as a champion for the rights of the coal miner. In many homes “Johnny de Mitch’s” picture was hung in a place of honor right next to a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A statue of Mitchell now stands outside the County Courthouse in the center of Scranton.

P.W. Costello. Address Read by Master Bennie Phillips, Representing the Breaker Boys of the Anthracite Region, to Mr. John Mitchell, President of the United Mine Workers of America. October 27, 1900. Scranton, Pennsylvania. Engrossing reproduced in the Business Educator, Zanerian College of Penmanship, Columbus, OH, January 1906.


Louis A. Watres (1851-1937) was a successful businessman and important figure in state and Lackawanna County politics. He also rose to the rank of Colonel with the 13th Regiment of the PA National Guard. The Watres Armory in Scranton, the home of the 13th Regiment, is named in his honor.

On July 15, 1904, Line Officers of the 13th Regiment adopted resolutions thanking Col. Watres for his “untiring services” as commander and urging him to continue in his position for another five years.

In an unusual departure from his customary use of white Bristol board, P. W. Costello engrossed this document in earth tones on brown paper, a design that reinforces the military theme. This is a masterful display of skill in layout, lettering and illustration. The original document is 18” x 26”.

This engrossing is a dedication page at the beginning of Ezra Ripple's memoirs from his imprisonment at Andersonville. He dedicated them to his friends, Annie and William Connell. The original is owned by Lackawanna Historical Society. It's about 7" x 11".


In 1905, family and friends of the congressman commissioned P. W. Costello to engross this document in celebration of his 78th birthday.

The original hangs in Elm Park United Methodist Church in Scranton, a gift from the Connell Family.

PDF Biography of William Connell by Tom Costello

Names of the children of Wm & Annie Connell pictured in the 1905 Connell Engrossing by PW Costello:
The engrossing includes 12 portraits and 3 illustrations.

The illustration at top left is the National Colliery in Minooka, where Wm Connell first worked as a foreman in 1856. William Costello worked there as a mine laborer from 1856 until the late 1860s. Later, Connell purchased the National and the Stafford Meadowbrook mines from the Susquehanna & Wyoming Valley RR and Coal Company.

At top right is a drawing of both the Lackawanna Knitting Mills and the Scranton Button Factory, where they knit underwear, made buttons, parts for telephones and advertising novelties. The factories were located adjacent to each other in South Scranton.

At bottom center is the Connell Building on N. Washington Ave, site of the administrative offices for the Connell coal businesses. There are drawings of a miner and miner's assistant on each side of the building.

There are 12 portraits, all drawn by hand in ink, then brushed with Payne’s Gray that was mixed with sepia to give it a brown tone: William & Annie Lawrence Connell and their 10 children, four of whom were deceased by the time the engrossing was done in 1905. All four died in their 30s. (The Connells actually had 11 children. Their first child, Emma, died at the age of four).

Visually segment the engrossing into five rows, starting at the top, left to right:
Row 1:  Annie Lawrence Connell (1835-1902), William's wife. She died three years before the engrossing was done, the reason she is positioned at top, center.
Row 2:  James L. Connell (1856-1919); Annie A. (Connell) Fulton (1869-1950); William Connell (1827-1909); Jessie A. (Connell) McAnulty (1862-1926); Mary E. Connell (1858-1891, deceased in 1905)
Row 3:  Theodore E. Connell (1871-1903, deceased in 1905); William A. Connell (1860-1899, deceased in 1905)
Row 4:  Ezra H. Connell (1873-1920); Mattie Connell (1854-1888, deceased in 1905)
Row 5:  Charles R. Connell (1864-1922); Alfred E. Connell (1869-1950)
Names of “Relatives & Friends” listed at the bottom of the engrossing:

Irish American Association of Lackawanna County. Honorable Thomas Carmody, 1911. P.W. Costello was one of the founding officers, in 1906, of the Irish-American Association of Lackawanna County, the precursor to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

Source of Carmody and Dolan images: The Business Educator, Zanerian College of Penmanship, Columbus, OH.
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America. James E. Dolan, 1916.
The Irish-American Association of Lackawanna County was founded in 1906. It became the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in 1939.  P. W. Costello served three terms as the organization’s first treasurer. He was also a member of the Executive Committee and, later, the Advisory Committee. He lettered and illustrated many program covers for their annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. Harry Truman, Robert F. Kennedy, Hubert H. Humphrey and Joseph Biden were part of a long line of prominent guest speakers.

1908 - Third Annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Program
Irish-American Association of Lackawanna County; Hotel Jermyn, Tuesday, March 17, 1908
Lettered & illustrated by P. W. Costello

P. W. Costello’s expertly-drawn cover illustrations include an eagle at the top of the page; a ribbon with the phrase, “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of Many, One); a large, initial “S” lettered in a Celtic style against a dark background and encircled by a ribbon; and an Irish harp and clover. At the bottom of the page is the traditional Irish expression, “Erin Go Bragh” (Ireland Forever).
1914 - Ninth Annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Program
Irish-American Association of Lackawanna County; Hotel Casey,  Tuesday Evening, March 17, 1914
Lettered & illustrated by P. W. Costello

Around two scrolls, P. W. Costello drew large acanthus leaves intertwined with clover, an Irish harp (at top), two flags - American and Irish (crossed at center), with a sunburst above the flags (an emblem of the Fenian Brotherhood). At bottom, enclosed in an oval frame with long-stemmed clover, he lettered in Gaelic the common Irish greeting, “céad míle fáilte” (a hundred thousand welcomes).


Isaiah F. Everhart (1840-1911) was a medical doctor, Civil War surgeon and naturalist who founded the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science & Art, located in Nay Aug Park in Scranton.

P.W. Costello’s engrossing includes two separate resolutions. The first commemorates Everhart’s donation of the newly constructed museum to the City of Scranton in May 1908, at a cost of $100,000. The second highlights the donation of another $100,000 to build and maintain two wings to the left and right of the original building. Everhart also gifted his “rare and magnificent” collection of animals, birds, fish and minerals, all native to PA.

This is a prime example of Mr. Costello’s skillful use of acanthus leaf designs and multi-layered, cloud-like watercolor washes to accent titles and borders. The entire piece is done in varying shades of Payne’s Gray watercolor, a favorite pigment of Mr. Costello’s. He would lighten it with Chinese white or darken it with lampblack, depending on the desired effect. Note the lion’s head positioned to the left of the capital “R” in “Resolved” at bottom left.

He used block lettering for the large titles, and alternated Old English and Engrosser’s Text throughout the rest of the document, much of it drop-shaded to give each letter a raised look.

The portrait of Isaiah Everhart is superbly executed. It was modeled after an oil painting done by L. R. Evans in 1906 that hangs above the museum’s main stairway, a gift of Joseph J. Jermyn, a railroad executive and Scranton mayor.

The image is used courtesy of the Everhart Museum, Scranton.
Engrossed resolution honoring ISAIAH F. EVERHART, MD, Dated: June 22, 1908

From the collection of the Lackawanna Historical Society in Scranton

The engrossing was commissioned by the Scranton Board of Trade in appreciation for Dr. Everhart’s benevolence in giving the Everhart Museum of Natural History and Science to the people of the City of Scranton.

“A mere monument to the memory of man is vain, futile and without significance. It crumbles! but the love of humanity which finds expression in the education and uplifting of mankind lives on.”

The document is signed by a committee that included H. C. Reynolds, Ezra H. Ripple, Civil War hero and former Scranton mayor, and Thomas H. Dale.

The large heading at top, and the center panel with Everhart’s name, are beautifully lettered in Old English in black ink, drop-shaded in gray and surrounded by a multi-layered watercolor wash.

Mr. Costello used Engrosser’s Text throughout the rest of the document. The larger lettering in Everhart Museum of Natural History and Science, Resolved and Committee are drop-shaded in gray and flourished with delicately drawn filigree.  Curved details added to the serif of certain letters, both above and below the baseline (t, f, b, p, y and g, are examples), give the text an informal, more personalized, “gothic” look.

The engrossing is simple and elegant in its design and execution.

John Von Bergen, Sr. (1845-1910), former miner and highly-respected Superintendent of the Scranton Coal Company, was also the father of Scranton’s fourteenth mayor, of the same name.

Following Von Bergen’s death on April 15, 1910, employees of the Scranton Coal Company adopted memorial resolutions praising a man of “splendid character” whose “official career was marked by wisdom and merited honor.”

P. W. Costello’s colorful document includes a watercolor portrait of Von Bergen surrounded by a spray of bright blue delphiniums and white lilies, traditional symbols of mourning and rebirth. Block-lettered titles and text are accented by scrolls, acanthus leaf borders and a layered wash. The entire piece is sepia-toned, giving it a classical look.

Image used courtesy of the Everhart Museum, Scranton, PA.

Continue to Page 3
Images and information contributed by: Thomas W. Costello, February 2013-2016
P.W. Costello produced hundreds of engrossings and portraits throughout his 45-year career in Scranton.  If you happen to have any of them in your family, Tom Costello, the artist's great-grandson, would appreciate the opportunity to photograph or scan them in support of his research. Tom can be reached at this e-mail address: 

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