The Explosives Engineer magazine

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The Explosives Engineer, 1923-1929 selected pages.

I am truly grateful to Dyno Nobel for granting permission to reproduce illustrations from The Explosives Engineer magazine.

In March, 1923, the Hercules Powder Company, located in Wilmington, Delaware, began publishing The Explosives Engineer, a trade magazine for the explosives industry engaged in mining, quarrying, and construction activities. Pages 13 – 16 featured oil paintings of anthracite miners from Pennsylvania by William Davidson White.

White’s oil paintings, drawings, and sketches for the Hercules Powder Company were reproduced on 368 pages of The Explosives Engineer from March, 1923 until March/April, 1961. An overwhelming number of these illustrations depicted miners, for whom White bore a particular fondness and admiration. Hercules sold its explosives business in 1985 to a company called IRECO, which was subsequently bought in 1995 by Dyno Nobel Inc., located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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The Explosives Engineer, 1930-1936, selected pages.

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The Explosives Engineer, 1937-1961, selected pages.

Explosives Engineer magazine periodically printed multi-page illustration portfolios by W. D. White. Examples include: In the Pennsylvania Anthracite Fields (March, 1923), Precursors of Progress (March, 1924),  The Delaware River Bridge (March 1925), Blasting a Subway through Philadelphia (February, 1926), Industry moves forward with explosives (February, 1930), Hard Coal (May, 1936), Coal Miners All (April, 1939), Coal Miners (May, 1940), An artist looks at a construction job (Jan/Feb, 1948).

Beginning in May, 1928, Explosives Engineer began publishing illustrated fiction stories about miners, most of them illustrated by W. D. White. In July, 1939, artist Edward Grant joined the publication as Art Director, choosing to illustrate some of the stories and several covers himself. Around that time, credit lines for White’s illustrations declined in frequency, while the re-use of his spot illustrations of miners increased. White typically signed his spot illustrations with a sideways “W” which still appears on many examples. Probably, once Hercules purchased an illustration, the company enjoyed unrestricted use of the art.

W. D. White continued providing new artwork for Explosives Engineer until the March/April, 1961 issue, just shy of White’s 65th birthday. Many of his final drawings illustrate poems about his beloved miners, including the March/April, 1959 poem entitled The Hardrockers’ Roll Call. In this drawing White depicted miners with nicknames such as Screwloose, Greaseball, One Eye, and Sockless Sam standing on clouds surrounded by a starry firmament.