An attractive example of the only 19th-century bird's-eye view of Aspen, one of perhaps only twenty or so extant copies. Colorado got its start with the Pike's Peak gold rush of 1858-59, but it was the silver boom which really established the economic fortune of the state. Silver was discovered in Leadville in 1878, and the search for more silver led prospectors to set up a camp they called Ute City, renamed Aspen the following year. Within a decade Aspen had boomed so that it had about 12,000 residents, six newspapers, many fine private homes, hotels, taverns, schools, churches, and a theater and opera house. This boom ended very shortly thereafter, with the Panic of 1893, sending the value of silver plummeting and all but destroying the silver industry in Colorado. In Aspen, as elsewhere in Colorado, mines shut down and many other businesses soon followed. The size and wealth of Aspen diminished significantly and it became a quiet backwater until the last century when winter sports again made it one of the most prosperous towns in the state.
In 1893, Augustus Koch produced this magnificent view showing Aspen at the height of its silver prosperity. The Aspen Times sponsored the print, selling the prints for $1 each beginning in June 1893. Almost as soon as the ink was dry, the market for silver collapsed and all those prosperous, interested buyers were no longer so prosperous nor as interested. Thus it seems that very few of these prints were sold at the time. This print contains a very detailed and clear depiction of Aspen from the southwest. Prints like this had to be accurate, in order to sell to the local population, so this print provides a remarkable look at Aspen in its boom years. Each house, public building, school, tunnel, hotel, railroad depot, factory and mine is precisely located and illustrated, with 83 of the sites identified with a key in the bottom margin. This print went through a number of versions, of which this is the most advanced. $15,000
Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson. "A Map of the most Inhabited Part of Virginia containing the whole Province of Maryland...Drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson in 1775." London: Sayer & Jefferys, 1775. Four sheets joined in two sheets, ca. 30 x 48 1/2. Engraving. Original outline color. Very large orginal margins. Excellent condition. Stevens & Tree, 87, f.
One of the most famous of American maps, and the finest eighteenth century map of Virginia and Maryland. The map was commissioned by the English Lords of Trade as part of the comprehensive mapping of the British colonies undertaken in the middle of the eighteenth century. The surveyors were Peter Jefferson, Thomas' father, and Joshua Fry, a mathematician at the College of William and Mary and Thomas Jefferson's tutor, who had already taken a number of important surveying commissions in Virginia. The map was based on their own surveys of the interior together with other first-hand information. Fry and Jefferson finished their map in 1751 and then revised it a few years later to incorporate information from John Dalrymple and others concerning the western part of the colony. The resulting map was by the far the best of Virginia to date and the first to accurately map beyond the Chesapeake Bay region and into the Appalachian mountains. This map was thus a watershed in the history of the mapping of Virginia and remained the prototype for the region for the second half of the century. Not only was it the first map to show the western parts of the colony, but it was the first to depict the road system in the colony. In the lower right is a lovely title cartouche showing a harbor scene on the Chesapeake and a tobacco warehouse, a vignette that has earned its own place in American iconography.
Though dated in the map 1751-the date the manuscript was finished-the first issue of the map was probably published about 1753 and was titled "A Map of the Inhabited part of Virginia…" It is exceedingly rare, with only a few complete copies known to exist. It was shortly after this issue that Fry and Jefferson updated the depiction of the western parts of the map, making a number of changes to produce what they called the "second edition" of 1755. This second edition was actually the fourth state, with two other intermediary states showing different stages in the modification of the geographic rendering on the map, as well as the change of the title to now read "A Map of the most Inhabited part of Virginia" (emphasis added). No more geographic changes were made, but the map went through four more editions with the date changed to 1768, 1775, 1782, and finally 1794. The issue of 1775, of which this is a fine example, was published for Thomas Jefferys' important America Atlas, which contained examples of the many great maps of the American colonies that resulted from the mid-century mapping undertaken by the British. $40,000
Albert Bierstadt. "The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak." New York: Edward Bierstadt, 1866. Steel engraving by James Smillie. 16 1/2 x 28. Excellent condition. Framed to museum standards. Denver.
The earliest art of the American west tended to focus on the Indians and their culture. After mid-century, this theme slowly gave way to more of a concern with landscape and genre subjects. Perhaps the most influential artist associated with this change was Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902). He was born in Germany, near Düsseldorf, grew up in the United States, and in his twenties studied at the Düsseldorf Academy in Germany. There he was deeply impressed by the tradition of heroic painting for which that school was famous. In 1858, soon after returning to America, Bierstadt paid his own way in order to accompany General F.W. Lander on an expedition to improve the wagon route from Fort Laramie to California. Bierstadt was tremendously impressed with the Rocky Mountains, which provided him with the subject matter for his most famous paintings. Bierstadt passed through the Rockies in the nascent days of the great American expansion west; the transcontinental railroad, the pony express, and most of the Indian wars lay in the future. Thus Bierstadt saw and absorbed an almost pristine frontier, for which the rocky peaks provided an emphatic exclamation.
After he returned east, Bierstadt straight away began to work on his western canvases, exhibiting his first Rocky Mountain painting in 1860 at the National Academy, where it was very well received. Thus encouraged, Bierstadt continued to produce large, dramatic mountain landscapes, which reached a peak with his large and sensational 1863 canvas, "The Rocky Mountains." This painting immediately received popular acclaim, establishing Bierstadt, in the minds of some of the public and critics, as the greatest American landscape artist of his day. This painting traveled widely and was purchased by James McHenry for the then fantastic sum of $25,000. Following this, Bierstadt received many commissions for new works, was acclaimed at home and abroad, and hobnobbed with the rich and royal. His canvases continued to dramatically portray the awe-inspiring grandeur of the Rockies. His were "the first paintings to capture successfully the wonder and excitement that the artist and other early trail blazers felt when they confronted the spectacular western scenery." (Trenton & Hassrick, The Rocky Mountains, Oklahoma, 1983) The success of "The Rocky Mountain" painting spurred Bierstadt to ask James Smillie, one of the best American engravers, to make an engraving of the image. Smillie took three years to produce this magnificent print. $7,400
Anthony Finley. American Atlas. Philadelphia: A. Finley, n.d., but 1827. Pocket issue of Finley's 1826 New American Atlas. Original red binding, 6" x 5" with fifteen maps on fourteen folding sheets, as per index pasted into inside front cover. Table of populations pasted to inside back cover. Maps crisp and bright in excellent condition, except a few stains on Missouri/Arkansas map and a few light stains on map of South America, which also has some creases at folds. 1830 owner's signature on index. Cover with some minor wear, short tear at fold and another at corner of tab; overall, very good and fully original.
A nearly pristine example of the very rare, pocket edition of Anthony Finley's important American Atlas. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, Philadelphia was the leading American cartographic center of North and South America. With its sophisticated scientific community, and the large population of engravers, artists, publishers, and colorists, the vast majority of the best American maps and atlases were issued in the city. In the 1820s, Anthony Finley was one of the dominate Philadelphia cartographic publishers, producing a series of fine atlases that were good examples of the quality that American publishers were then able to obtain.
The atlas contains 13 maps of North America, a map of the West Indies (on the same sheet as Florida), and one of South America. The maps were drawn by D.H. Vance and engraved by J.H. Young and they are printed on thin but strong, banknote paper and folded into this "pocket" edition of an atlas which first appeared in 1826. The map of North America is dated 1827, indicating that it appeared the following year. The regional maps generally show three states each, and the detail contained in the maps is prodigious. Each county is indicated with a contrasting pastel shade, and towns, rivers, lakes, roads, and other topographical features are clearly and precisely depicted. Statistical tables accompany most of the maps. Finley was very concerned to depict as up-to-date information as was possible, and thus his maps present an accurate picture of the world in the early decades of the nineteenth century. $21,000
[ Click here for images: cover; title page; Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama ]
George Caleb Bingham. "Stump Speaking." New York: Fischel, Adler & Schwartz, 1856. 22 x 30. Engraving by Gautier. With a dedication to the "Friends of American Art, by the Publishers." Wide margins with some surface wear from old matting. One word in dedication worn. Professionally conserved. Image and overall condition is very good. Ref.: McDermott, p. 437, #9.
George Caleb Bingham is one of the greatest American genre painters of the middle of the nineteenth century. In his large canvases he showed daily life from American heartland. A number of these were made into prints, of which this is one of the most desirable and rare. The image is an icon of American art and politics. A group of voters (all men, the only enfranchised citizens at the time) gather beneath an oak tree on a Missouri farm to listen to the candidates present their positions and qualifications. The speaker leans forward for emphasis, while an imposing, opposing candidate sits behind listening and another makes notes on a pad. This latter individual is thought to be Bingham himself, who was involved in politics for a number of years. Though based on actual events witnessed by Bingham, the scene is general and iconographic. The mix of ages and social classes thoughtfully considering the candidates is an ideal image of American democracy. $6,200
John J. Barralet. "America Guided by Wisdom: An Allegorical representation of the United States, denoting their Independence and Prosperity." Philadelphia, ca. 1815. First state, previous to Stauffer, 3115. Engraving by Benjamin Tanner. 15 1/8 x 22 3/8. Good impression. Trimmed to platemark as usual. Very good condition. Fowble, 324.
The War of 1812 has often been called the "Second War of Independence," especially at the time. Following a series of naval victories and battles at Baltimore and New Orleans, Americans were infused with a new optimism based on a peace treaty that arranged for them to be left alone to develop their new country. This print uses symbols of republican virtues to express pride in the new country. Six lines of descriptive text explain that the focus is on Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, who points to an escutcheon of the United States with the motto "Union and Independence," emblazoned on a shield held by America. Thrown down at their feet and behind them is a spear and shield with the visage of Medusa. To the right of this vignette is an equestrian statue of Washington at the entrance of a grand temple. To the left the god Mercury, representing commerce, points to proudly sailing ships to indicate his approval to the goddess Ceres, who holds wheat (a symbol of agriculture), while to her back are symbols of American industry: spinning, beekeeping, and plowing. This is a rich allegory to describe America.
We date this print at 1815 because that year marked the end of the War of 1812, and the message is appropriate for that time. Also, in that year Benjamin Tanner (1775-1848) entered a partnership with Vallance, Kearney & Company whose names are added to a later state of this print as described by David M. Stauffer. So the imprint, as well as the wonderfully strong lines, suggests that this printing is a first state. This print is after a drawing by John James Barralet (ca. 1747-1815), an Irish artist who came to Philadelphia about 1795. He had established a reputation as a landscape and historical artist in Dublin and London. When Barralet first arrived in Philadelphia he was hired as an engraver by Alexander Lawson and soon took up painting landscapes in and around Philadelphia. Among American engravers, Barralet is credited with inventing a ruling machine for work on bank notes. $3,200
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