From 1833 to 1864, Joseph Meyer, of Hildburghausen Germany, issued a journal, Meyer's Universum, containing text and steel engravings of all parts of the world. In 1849 he sent his son Herrmann to New York to set up an American branch of the business, and Herrmann issued an American edition of the Universum in 1852-53. This work contained many of the prints from the German version, but new images, specifically commissioned for the American edition, were added. These images of California were issued very shortly after the great "Gold Rush" of 1849. The two city views show the activity which caused those communities to grow tremendously, with ships filling the San Francisco Bay and lined up at Sacramento's quay. Also included are two images of gold mining; one of panning for gold and one of a gold mine. These are some of the earliest images of '49ers' in action.
From 1834 to 1907 the firm of Currier and Ives provided for the American people a pictorial history of their country's growth from an agricultural society to an industrialized one. For nearly three quarters of a century the firm provided "Colored Engravings for the People" and in the process, because of the democratic philosophy of the business, became the visual raconteurs of nineteenth-century America. Nathaniel Currier established the firm in 1834, producing hand colored pictures using a then relatively new process called lithography. Some of the finest artists of the day, Louis Maurer, Thomas Worth, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Frances Flora Bond Palmer, George H. Durrie, Napoleon Sarony, Charles Parsons, and J. E. Butterworth were engaged by the firm to produce a variety of images. The firm of Currier and Ives gained its reputation for producing two types of prints- "rush" stock prints that provided immediate visual reporting of major newsworthy events, and "stock" prints depicting every subject relating to American life: sports, games, home life, religion, entertainment, views of cities, and so forth. Charming and colorful, these are wonderful examples of the work of 'America's printmakers.'
Facing East toward the bay and Alcatraz, the Golden Gate and Sausalito on the left, this print shows a lovely view of the city. Beginning around mid-century, bird's-eye views of American cities became very popular. These were originally issued in large folio size, but publishers, such as Charles Magnus of New York, soon realized that there was a market for smaller versions of these prints. With more information and rarer than the more usual street scenes, this print is a most desirable image of nineteenth century America. $150
Prints from Picturesque America. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1872-1875. Some with full hand color, as illustrated. Very good condition.
A charming series of prints from Picturesque America. This two volume set was the most ambitious of the nineteenth century works illustrating scenes in the United States. These pictures provided some of the only images of distant parts of the United States that were available to much of the general public, especially of the western section of the country. Through their accurate and detailed representations they provide us too with a glimpse of nineteenth century California.
Steel engravings, ca. 5 1/8 x 8:
This print is from the English illustrated newspaper The Graphic. These newspapers, usually issued weekly in England and America, were made popular by the inclusion of wood engravings. These publications, filled with current text and a multitude of illustrations, became extremely popular from their first appearance with the Illustrated London News in 1842, which was followed in England by The Graphic in 1869. This source provides us with many images of all parts of the world in the nineteenth century, most of which would not exist to present day otherwise. This is a fine example of the output of one of the two most successful papers in England; a visual feast for the eyes. $75
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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated January 19, 2018