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The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Historical Prints

Historical Prints


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A Selection of Historical PrintsCharts of World HistoryHistorical Cartoons
AllegoriesExplorationsU.S. Army & Navy
Currier & IvesKurz & AllisonMarine Prints
Historic Figures
George WashingtonAbraham LincolnOther Presidents
Benjamin FranklinCartes de Visite
of Lincoln and Contemporaries
Napoleon Bonaparte and French History
Portraits of the RevolutionPortraits of the Civil WarMiscellaneous historical portraits
Events in American History
French & Indian WarAmerican RevolutionWar of 1812
Mexican-American WarCivil WarSpanish America War
American Philippine WarWorld Wars I & IIEvents of the American West
American Political Prints
EventsPortraitsCartoons
European History
English historyRevolt of the NetherlandsFrench Cavalry Prints



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A Selection of Interesting Prints:

American Guided by Wisdom
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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Penn's Treaty with the Indians
After Benjamin West. "William Penn's Treaty with the Indians." Philadelphia: Illman & Sons, 1857. With engraved facsimile of William Penn's signature. Line engraving. 14 1/2 x 11 (plate marks) plus margins. Steel engraving. Overall excellent condition. Not in Snyder, Mirror.

An intriguing 19th-century broadside illustrating Penn's legendary treaty of friendship with the Lenni Lenape Indians. The theatrical rendering of the figures after Benjamin West's painting, along with the exuberant poem (appropriately enough, in 18th-century heroic couplets) perpetuate nicely the happy legend. A charming piece of Philadelphia history that was prepared for distribution by newspaper carriers who sold them as a memento or gift at the beginning of the new year. This is one of the most attractive and accomplished of these carriers' broadsides that is a recognized genre produced in American cities in the nineteenth century. $450



U.S. Senate
Peter F. Rothermel. "The United States Senate, A.D. 1850." Philadelphia: John M. Butler and Alfred Long, 1855. 29 1/2 x 37 1/2 (platemarks) plus all margins. Engraving by R. Whitechurch. Minor wear on side of Clay's face and the group of men directly behind him. Small expertly repaired tears in the faces of the men just in front of Clay. Otherwise, incredibly good condition for a large separately issued print. Strong strike and even impression.

A dramatic print of Rothermel's painting featuring Henry Clay addressing the Senate. The event depicted here is Clay's argument for the "Compromise of 1850" or the "California compromise," to admit California into the Union as a free state in an attempt to prevent what became the American Civil War. Details of the Old Senate Chamber and the august members of the Senate, including Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun and Thomas Hart Benton, are sharp, down to the patterned carpet and draperies behind the president's chair, where Vice President Millard Fillmore is seated. The faces are accurate because Rothermel used daguerreotypes of the major figures in his painting. This print's crowded gallery, and the seriousness of expression in its subjects pay fitting tribute to Clay, the orator and statesman, as he made an historically important argument just two years before his death. One of the best American political prints of the nineteenth century. $3,600



E. Brown Jr. "Daniel Webster Addressing the U.S. Senate On The Compromise Measures, March 7th 1850." New York: R. Van Dien, 1856. 21 3/4 x 29 3/8. Lithograph. Printed by G.W. Lewis. Some chipping & repaired tears. Overall, very good condition.

This print commemorates Daniel Webster's address to the Senate suggesting a compromise designed to lessen the tension between the North and South over the slavery issue. In 1849 there were fifteen free and fifteen slave states, giving an equal balance of representation for both sections in the Senate. The admission of California, in 1850, as a free state, upset this equilibrium and worried the South. In conjunction with California's entry to the Union, most Northerners demanded that any future states be admitted as free states. This was unacceptable to the South. The North had greater wealth, population, and political power, and the South saw its own economic and social status, based on slavery, as threatened.

Daniel Webster's speech suggested a compromise and was an attempt to mollify both sides. Webster, an ardent opponent of Slavery, foresaw that if a compromise were not reached, the South might try to secede from the Union. Unfortunately, his Northern supporters were critical of his stand; the abolitionists were particularly furious. The specific crisis raised by the admission of California was patched over by the Webster inspired Compromise of 1850. California was allowed to enter as a free state, however the Compromise also required the federal government to assist slave holders in returning runaway slaves, and prosecuting those who assisted them. This print, showing Webster addressing the Senate, is a fascinating historical document that wonderfully depicts the interior of the Senate Chamber. The Senators are shown at their seats and the fact that each face is drawn so accurately--making each man easily identifiable--suggests that the portraits were taken from photographs. Above the chamber hang the patriotic symbols of an eagle clutching the Union Shield and a portrait of Washington. $1,400



Small historical engravings

Columbus
Engravings made on steel plates, a process developed in the first part of the nineteenth century, allowed publishers to produce finely detailed images which could be run off in large numbers. These prints became the standard means of illustrating for books, magazines and even as separate prints. All sorts of publications on history, travel, or domestic subjects included these charming images which covered every imaginable subject. Historic scenes were particularly popular and so there are many very interesting steel engravings made from scenes of American and world history.

Below is a small sampling of the prints in our inventory. All are about 5 x 8 and in very good condition, except as noted. If you have an event of particular interest, please contact us to see if we might have a print of that subject.




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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated December 13, 2013