With the end of the War of 1812 by the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, the American people were feeling secure in the future of their new country, and they realized that the formulators and signers of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were almost gone from American political life. At that time with the rise of intense and often acrimonious political partisanship, printmakers began celebrating the unifying documents and founding fathers with adulatory broadsides that combined texts and pictures. By then the Declaration of Independence had taken on new meaning signifying the unity and history of the nation, so it is not surprising that a number of prints were produced glorifying the document.
An Irish immigrant who became a Philadelphia journalist and publisher, John Binns, was the first to conceive the idea of a "splendid and correct copy of the Declaration of Independence, with fac-similes of all the signatures," for which he sought subscribers in 1816. Because of the care which he took in producing his print-using the work of several artists, carefully copying the state seals, and borrowing accurate portraits for his medallions-it took over three years before the print was finally completed in 1819. In the meantime, Benjamin Owen Tyler, who had undoubtedly learned of Binn's project, rushed a less expensive and simpler facsimile to market, beating Binns by over a year and cutting into his market. To counter this, Binns got permission to add a statement from Secretary of State John Quincy Adams that the signatures on his print were exact duplicates of the originals. And while not first in production, Binns' print of the Declaration was the first to be conceived and was a finer production than the cheaper Tyler print.
Binns broadside is a most impressive engraving, reproducing the text of the Declaration of Independence with beautiful calligraphy and including accurate facsimiles of all the original signatures, the whole encircled by seals of the original thirteen states. At the top is an American eagle beneath which George Washington's portrait is surrounded by spears, flags, trumpets of war and the cornucopia of peace and prosperity. On either side of Washington are portraits of Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock. Binns' print spawned many imitations; it is one of the rarest and most important American political prints of the early nineteenth century. $25,000
Bosse, Abraham. "Voicy la representation d'un Sculpteur dans son Attelier." Paris: ca. 1642. Engraving.
Bosse (1602-1676), born in Tours to Huguenot parents, was a prolific etcher and watercolor painter, who trained in Paris and was highly influenced by Jacques Bellange and Callot. Here we see in his workshop, a sculptor receiving three visitors. One of the women gestures towards a large marble statue of Venus and Cupid erected on a pedestal. There we see the tools of the artist: a mallet and a chisel, and on the ground a compass and other tools. The sculptor, holding a chisel in his right hand, presents a reduced model of the larger form. To the left, on a stand, is a man's head; on a table behind, are several models seemingly in progress. On the shelves at the back of the workshop, as well as on the ground, we see various productions of the sculptor, including a cartouche carved with the arms of the Cardinal de Richelieu. This is a magnificent scene of 17th century fashion. $425
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, ca. 30 5/8 x 48. Engraving. Original outline color. 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
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. OUT ON APPROVAL JC
Thomas Faed. (1826-1900) "The Little Wanderer." Chicago: Crosby Opera House Art Association, 1866. 16 1/4 x 23 3/4. Steel engraving by Christian Rost. Printed by W. Pate, N.Y. Some chips at extreme edges of margins; tide mark at bottom margin, into publication line, but still legible. Else excellent condition.
This fine engraving was made by Rost after Faed's painting, "The Mitherless Bairn," which was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, in 1855, where it achieved a notable popularity. The painting shows an idealized incident from Faed's early years: a small child pretending to be orphaned, has imposed on the family. In spite of having been treated and fed well while in their care, his behavior devolves, and it becomes known that he is no orphan, but in fact the child of two well known tramps.
Thomas Faed, born in Scotland, was one of five siblings who became accomplished artists. Credited for popularizing Scottish art to a degree similar to the way Robert Burns' works did for Scottish song, Faed painted for most of his life, to great acclaim.
This print was one of two premium options for single shareholders of the Crosby Opera House Art Association, an elaborate lottery to pay off the cost overruns caused by war shortages. Uranus H. Crosby built his famous Italianate Opera House on Washington Street, between State & Dearborn in Chicago. While the lottery was a great success, the structure was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. $450
Charles Eastlake. "Christ Blessing Little Children." Philadelphia: Bradley & Co., 1861. 11 3/4 X 16 (image). Mezzotint engraving by Samuel Sartain. Minor staining and scuffing in margins not affecting image. Otherwise, very good condition.
This handsome image illustrates the New Testament story of Jesus explaining to his disciples that one must have the childlike innocence and acceptance of God in order to be welcomed into Heaven. Under the image are several lines of text from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament:
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Engraved by Samuel Sartain, the son of the famous printmaker John Sartain, this print is after Sir Charles Lock Eastlake's painting (1793-1865) made in 1839 which can be viewed today at the Manchester Art Gallery in England. $400
Randolph Caldecott. (1846-1886) "St. Valentine's Day." From The Graphic. London: February 13, 1875. 12 x 9. Chromolithograph. Very good condition.
This charming scene of cupid as a letter carrier, delivering Valentine's Day greetings to the girls and women in a household bursts with details, such as a decorative border filled with flowers, leaves, putti and lovebirds. The poem below the image adds further:
See, here comes the postman; we'll open the door,British artist Randolph Caldecott was best known for his children's illustrations, and is the namesake for the annually awarded Caldecott medal for outstanding illustrations in a children's book. Caldecott also illustrated travel books, drew cartoons and humorous drawings of the famous and fashionable, created and exhibited sculptures, as well as painted in oil and watercolors. Caldecott, an older child of a large family, left school at 15 and was apprenticed to a bank, in which industry he worked for a little over ten years, while also pursuing his artistic avocation. At the age of 26, having achieved some success selling illustrations, he quit the banking business, moved to London, and began to support himself entirely through his art work, quickly gaining popularity with his young audience through annual publications available at Christmastime. $145
And ask for our budget of letters, before
He touches the knocker; but, oh! he's so small,
He never can reach the knocker at all.
* * * * *
Why, who can he be? We are all of us stupid,
For this is none other than the little god CUPID.
Go to our HIDDEN GEMS page
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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated June 30, 2017