P. W. Costello and Family Art Collection

P. W. Costello and Family Art Collection

Introduction to the P. W. Costello and Family Art Collection

Essay by Thomas W. Costello, 2016

The story of Patrick W. Costello (1866-1935) is an inspiration. From humble beginnings as a breaker boy and the only child of poor Irish immigrant parents in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he worked to become a nationally-renowned artist in the field of 'engrossing,' where elaborate pen and ink drawings were combined with calligraphic lettering to produce commemorative documents and resolutions.

As his great-grandson, I'm proud of what he was able to accomplish against great odds through reliance on his innate talent, perseverance and creativity. Without the benefit of art school, he succeeded in developing a rare level of expertise in design, lettering, illumination and illustration.

Working for forty-five years from a studio in downtown Scranton, Mr. Costello created masterful, artistic engrossings touching all facets of the local community, including, business, politics, labor and sports. Among his honored subjects were four U.S. presidents, visiting heads of state and Hall of Fame baseball players.

Reflecting his personal interest in theatre and literature, he drew hundreds of portraits that he gave to his family and friends, or hung in his restaurant on Wyoming Avenue, in the heart of the city's theatre district. His illustrations of stage stars were often autographed by the subjects when they performed in Scranton's playhouses.

Over the past three decades, I've compiled an extensive digital collection of Mr. Costello's drawings, engrossings, advertisements, programs, letterheads, charters, certificates, diplomas, articles and photographs.

The Weinberg Library's P. W. Costello and Family Art Collection website is a unique, comprehensive display of the work of this extraordinary artist. It also showcases the art of three of his sons, William J. Costello, a commercial sign painter; Jerry Costello, an editorial cartoonist; and Joseph W. Costello, an engrosser. All were accomplished artists in their own right, with close ties to Scranton.

I'm grateful to the University of Scranton and the Weinberg Library for making this impressive art collection available for all to study and appreciate.