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The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Historical Prints

War of 1812
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Prints from: [ The Port Folio | Naval Monument | Naval Battles of the United States ]
[ General selection of prints | Naval Officers ]


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On June 19, 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain, thus beginning what is known as the War of 1812. Though the official reasoning for the declaration was to defend the doctrine of “freedom of the seas,” the factors involved were many, including British support for Native Americans in the mid-west, British actions taken against American ships as part of their fight with Napoleonic France, British impressment of American sailors, and not least, American dreams of annexing Canada. Action during the war was primarily naval: on the high seas, on the Great Lakes, and on Lake Champlain. Land battles were fought mostly in the region of Detroit, along the Niagara frontier, and in the south. Neither side gained much advantage during the war, which was ended by the Treaty of Ghent signed December 24, 1814. The war didn't really decide anything, though the British never again were quite as highhanded in their treatment of American shipping and the Americans never again tried to annex Canada.

The Port Folio

The Port Folio was a new type of American magazine, “Devoted to Useful Science, the Liberal Arts, Legitimate Criticism, and Polite Literature.” It was a product of the new century, appearing first in January 1801. It began as a weekly issue until 1809, when it became monthly until its demise at the end of 1827. As with the many magazines that followed it, The Port Folio included numerous illustrations, views, and portraits (cf. above), and during the War of 1812, it contained a number of fine images of the battles and sites of that war. Contemporary images of the war are quite scarce and these are some of the most interesting.



The Naval Monument

Prints from The Naval Monument, Containing Official and Other Accounts Of All The Battles Fought Between the Navies of the United States and Great Britain During The Late War. Boston: A. Bowen, 1816. Octavo: ca. 4 x 7 3/4. Copper and wood engravings. Very good condition.

The most stirring and, for the United States, successful action during the War of 1812 were fought by the young U.S. Navy. With glorious victories on Lake Champlain, Lake Erie and on the high seas, the captains and ships of the U.S. Navy were the greatest heroes to come out of this war. The demand by the military and the public for information and illustrations of these battles and figures was satisfied by the publication, in 1816--shortly after the war ended--of The Naval Monument. This included descriptions of the naval battles fought during the war, along with twenty five illustrations of those battles, produced in both copper and wood engravings. These are some of the best contemporary images of these battles and this combined with the scarcity of these prints makes them most desirable.

Copper Engraving:

Wood Engravings:

All engraved by A. Bowen unless noted.



Prints from the 1836 edition of The Naval Monument, Containing Official and Other Accounts Of All The Battles Fought Between the Navies of the United States and Great Britain During The Late War. Boston: George Clark, 1836. Copper and wood engravings. Very good condition.



Naval Battles

Horace Kimball. Prints from Naval Battles of the United States. Boston: B. Badger(?), 1857. Octavo. Wood engravings. Very good condition. Ref: Howes, U.S.Iana: K135

Prints from an illustrated history of naval engagements of the United States. First issued in 1816 under the title of The Naval Temple…, this publication included illustrations of naval battles of the War of 1812 and the Barbary Wars. The demand by the military and the public for information and illustrations of these battles was satisfied by this and other illustrated publications shortly after the war ended. Naval Battles was issued in several editions, under three different titles, with the last edition published in 1857. It is interesting to note that all of the later editions used the original wood block illustrations from the first edition (1816). Even though the prints from this edition were published long after the War of 1812, their style is indicative of printmaking of that period. Overall, a wonderful series of nicely engraved naval prints originally issued not long after these historic events.



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