Thomas Watson Ball (1863–1934)


Around the Caribbean and Across the Panama
H.M Caldwell Co. (1903)

Thomas Watson Ball had a diverse career working in a variety of roles, including church decorator, art director, painter, and book designer. Born in New York, he graduated from the College of the City of New York. Ball worked for a short time for the brokerage house of Loomis, Weiss & Co. However, his love of art led him to join J&R Lamb, church decorators, where he painted a number of murals and ceiling decorations for churches in New York City; Buffalo, NY; and Hackensack, NJ.

Ball served as associate art director for Harper Brothers from 1894 to 1900. He worked similarly for Colgate & Co from 1901 to 1907 and for Richard Hudnut from 1910 to 1913. Also, while a member of a New York regiment, he organized the first ambulance corps in the State and received the first Red Cross badge.


Ships that Pass in the Night. Dodd, Mead and Company (1900)

Ball studied art with the Art Students’ League. He worked under Beckwith, Mowbray and Du Mond. Ball later taught design, teaching his son, Thomas R. Ball, architect and Congressman. Ball was a member of several different organizations, including the National Arts Club, Salmagundi Club, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Lyme Art Association, and the Society of Illustrators.

He frequently exhibited paintings in Lyme, CT where he lived and worked in a renovated boathouse and extensively studied both the sea and shipbuilding.

His expertise can be seen in his model ships, his paintings, and also in his book designs, which often feature ships and water. Most of his book designs were done for Dodd, Mead & Co, but his work can also be seen with Harper Bros., Houghton, Mifflin & Co., and Silver, Burdett & Co.

Click here to search the PBO database for bindings designed by Thomas Watson Ball.

Sources: Rainey, Ada. "Lyme Visit is Full of Inspiration," The Washington Post, July 29, 1928; "Thomas W. Ball, 70, Mural Artist, Dies," New York Times, Jan 26, 1934; "Thomas Ball Dies; Ex-Congressman," New York Times, Jun 18, 1943.

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