Nathaniel Currier was born March 27, 1813 to Nathaniel and Hannah Currier in Roxbury, Massachusetts. At the age of fifteen he was apprenticed to William S. and John Pendleton of Boston who had set up the first lithographic establishment in America. His apprenticeship served him well as he went on to be the largest publisher of lithographs. Mr. Maurer described Nat Currier as being very gentlemanly and liberal. As is evident to the success of the firm of Currier & Ives he was very devoted to his business. Nat Currier had many friends including Horace Greely and P.T. Barnum.
He was well known for his sense of humor and Harry T. Peters tells one story about P. T. Barnum: "Currier had heard that one day his friend, the great showman, had rushed into the barber shop of the old Park Hotel, at Beekman and Nassau Streets, to get a shave. Barnum had hurried up to Tom Higginson, the barber, and said, 'Tom, I'm in a hurry.' 'Sorry for it,' said Tom, 'but it's that gentleman's turn next.' 'That gentleman' was an unshaven irshman waiting for a ten-cent shave. Barnum turned to him and said, 'My friend, if you will let me have your turn, I'll pay for what you have done.' The gentleman consented, and, as Barnum found out later, had a full job done - absolutely everything the house had. The check was for a dollar and sixty cents. When Currier heard this story he found the very Irishman and had him pose. The result was the famous cartoon, "The Man that Gave Barnum 'His Turn.'"
Nathaniel was married twice; his first wife was Miss Eliza West of Boston. He had one son with Eliza, Edward West Currier. In 1847 he married Miss Laura Ormsbee of Vermont. Laura and Nathaniel are memorialized in the famous N. Currier lithograph The Road Winter. He lived at several addresses in New York City including 153 Macdougal Street, 137 Macdougal Street and 28 West 27th Street. He had a summer house called "The Lion's Mouth" in Amesbury, Massachusetts. He was known to like fast horses and he kept several in Amesbury. Nathaniel died on November 20, 1888 at his home on 28 west 27th Street.