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Perils of the Coast—The Life-Saving Service
Published in Harper’s Weekly, April 16, 1881

After Milton J. Burns, American, 1853 - 1933. Published by Harper's Weekly, New York.

Published in New York, New York, United States, North and Central America


Wood engraving

Image: 19 11/16 × 13 1/4 inches (50 × 33.7 cm) Sheet: 22 1/8 × 15 7/8 inches (56.2 × 40.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Center for American Art Fund, 2013

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As a teenager, Milton J. Burns voyaged with explorer and artist William Bradford to the Arctic. Familiar with peril at sea, Burns later became the main chronicler of the US Life-Saving Service in the illustrated press, bringing the image of the hardworking surfman to a wide audience. Traveling to Atlantic stations on assignment in 1879, he made a visual record of the increasingly professionalized brigades. In his spread for Harper’s Weekly, Burns shows a life line rescue, a manned life boat, a surfman with ignited signal flare, and a crew firing a Lyle gun to send a rope out to an offshore wreck.