For years, I’ve been using the Flip-Pal to scan over 1,000 original pieces of art by my great-grandfather – a designer, engrosser and illustrator. In the early 1900s, he engrossed resolutions honoring five U. S. presidents, senators, visiting foreign heads of state, and many other prominent figures in business, politics, labor, education and sports.
To help you visualize this artwork, many of his engrossings are similar to the monastic manuscripts of the Middle Ages in design and color. Others are simpler, lettered in black ink and brushed in watercolor on heavy white paper. All were rendered by hand, including those with a portrait of the subject.
My great-grandfather worked in Scranton, PA for 45 years. He died in 1935, sixteen years before I was born. In 1989, I met with museum curators, college art historians and directors of two historical societies in Scranton. I wanted to find out what they knew about P.W. Costello, who is widely recognized in art circles as one of the top engrossers in the history of the art form in the United States. (There were about 200 engrossers in the U.S. in the early 1900s).
One curator knew a little about him because their museum exhibited his art in the 1960s. The others heard his name, but didn’t know much more. He was largely forgotten in his hometown. For thirty years, I’ve been working to change that. I organize exhibitions in Scranton, write articles, build websites, and give lectures and slide presentations at artist conventions. Now, if you Google “P.W. Costello,” you’ll see that he’s back in the public eye.
I needed to obtain high-quality images (300 to 600 dpi) to post on a university library website devoted to the artist. I also use them on other websites, and in creating display panels and slides for lectures.
Before I had the Flip-Pal, I used to take these art pieces to professional digital imaging services. One scan would cost between $100 and $200. The Flip-Pal scanner is a workhorse and has saved me a fortune! I’m continually impressed with its performance and durability. One engrossed document may require as many as 30 individual scans. I’m careful to overlap scans to capture the entire document. The stitching software consistently produces high-quality, seamless images. The scanner is smooth, with no sharp edges, so it’s safe to use on this artwork.
As a side interest, my great-grandfather also created many hundreds of pen & ink portraits of stage stars from his era, many of them autographed by the subjects. He often gave these drawings to family and friends. They include, Edwin Booth, Maude Adams, Henry Irving, Sarah Bernhardt and John Barrymore. I’ve also used the Flip-Pal to scan these drawings, with excellent results.
I first heard about the Flip-Pal about ten years ago from a friend who is prominent in genealogy circles. She uses it to scan family photo albums when she does a tree. I’ve thoroughly researched both sides of my own family and also use the Flip-Pal to scan those photos and documents.
Recently, I made the mistake of overloading the side pocket of the carry case with a card reader and extra AA batteries still in the package. This put pressure on the bottom plastic window of the scanner and cracked one corner. Flip-Pal support repaired the window for me. He had a good suggestion: take the spare batteries out of the package and line them along the bottom of the pocket so that they don’t press against the scanner.
I have two Flip-Pal scanners. One stays at home; the other I take when I travel.
The Flip-Pal is an amazing machine. Friends, who have never heard about it, but have watched me use it, are surprised by what it can do. It has served me well in creating images of my great-grandfather’s artwork in a cost-effective way. As a result, his legacy as one of America’s preeminent engrossers and portrait artists has been strengthened.
Post written by Tom Costello