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The Philadelphia Print Shop

Prints of Philadelphia

Views of Philadelphia have appeared in print ever since the eighteenth century,
and they present a fascinating graphic account of the history of the city.

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Joseph Vernet. "Vue du Port Philadelphie dans l'Amérique." Ca.1780. Credits read, "Vernet pinxit," and "Graveé d'après le Tableau de Vernet." Engraving. 7 x 8 3/4 (platemarks) plus margins. Laid paper. Strong impression. Excellent condition. Ref.: Snyder, City of Independence, p. 260, fig. 176. Cresswell, American Revolution, 583; Cresswell in Elton Hall's American Maritime Prints, p. 51. Framed.

In the 1750s Claude Joseph (dit Joseph) Vernet (1714-1789) painted a series of huge oils on canvas entitled Les Ports de France. The views were engraved by J. P. LeBas. Due to a growing interest in the North American cities participating in a revolution against England and an alliance with France in 1777, an unknown engraver took the original images, reversed them, and described them as images of American cities. This one states that it is Philadelphia, but in reality it is a view of a recognizable tower and windmill at the entrance of Marseille. Having never seen America, the artist was probably assuming that Philadelphia would resemble a European city. A strange but fascinating fictitious view. $750

Heap: Philadelphia
Carington Bowles after George Heap. "An East Perspective View of the City of Philadelphia, in the Province of Pensylvania, in North America, taken from the Jersey Shore." London: Bowles & Carver, [1778]-ca. 1794. Second State. 9 1/2 x 16 1/8. Engraving. Full original hand coloring. Very good condition. Deak: 101; Snyder 6: 100B.

This is considered the finest and most decorative of the reissues of Heap's "East Prospect" of Philadelphia, and this ambitious and delicate eighteenth-century print is one of the most desirable early profiles of the city. This view shows the city as a bustling river port of some importance and sophistication. A mile of the Philadelphia waterfront, from present-day South Street to Vine Street, is depicted in considerable detail. In the foreground lies Windmill Island, and the river is congested with vessels of all types.

The creator of this print was London print maker, Carington Bowles. This was one of the vue d'optique or perspective views showing the cities of the world, prints that were very popular in the late eighteenth century. These prints were produced for a viewing machine. The hand color, necessitated by the optical show, is also noteworthy, the tones being more vivid and brilliant than on other, similar views of the period. The first issue of the engraving bore the date "1 Jany 1778" on the plate. In about 1794 Carington Bowles was succeeded by Bowles & Carver, and the new publisher's name appeared on the plate. But no change was made in the engraved picture itself. $9,500

Birch: 1st ed High Street Market
William Russell Birch. "High Street Market." From The City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania North America. First edition. Philadelphia, 1798-1800. Ca. 11 x 13 3/8 Engraving. Full original hand color. Narrow top margin.

When issued in 1800, William Birch's prints of Philadelphia collectively formed the first series of views of any American city, and as such they are of great historical importance. The superior quality of the work is evidenced in the scope of its conception, the artistic excellence of the prints and their fine execution. The prints provide a unique visual record of Philadelphia at a time when it was the most important and cosmopolitan city in the Western Hemisphere, and for a time was the capital of the newly formed United States. Each print illustrates a scene, focusing on the sophistication of the inhabitants and the stateliness of the homes and public buildings. $2,400
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From John Pinkerton's A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1812. Quarto. Engraving by G. Cooke. Hand color. Very good condition.

Engravings by George Cooke, based on images by George Beck, who drew scenes for a number of prints issued by George Nightingale in the early nineteenth century. Staffordshire-born George Beck (1748-1812) lived in the United States after 1795, residing in Norfolk, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Lexington. Often called one of the great predecessors of the Hudson River School of art, Beck's landscapes so impressed George Washington that he purchased two of Beck's Potomac paintings for Mt. Vernon. George Cooke (1781-1834) was one of the finest and most prolific London engravers of his era.

These prints, reduced in scale by Cooke from prints owned by Nightingale, appeared in John Pinkerton's fascinating compendium of travel accounts, a work that included myriad appealing prints of sites in American and elsewhere.

Joshua Shaw. "View Near the Falls of the Schuylkill." From Picturesque Views of American Scenery. Philadelphia: M. Carey & Son, 1819-21. Aquatint with line etching by John Hill. Very good condition. Deák: 315; Fowble: 275; Fielding: 659.

A rare print from a very interesting series of American views that combine the work of some of the most talented Americans of the early nineteenth century. Joshua Shaw (ca. 1777-1860) was born and trained in England, where he exhibited at the Royal Academy. With a recommendation of his work from Benjamin West, Shaw emigrated to Philadelphia in 1817. He was enthralled by his new country, and as a result conceived the grand scheme of producing a folio of prints based on "correct delineations of some of the most prominent beauties of notable scenery." He planned to travel throughout the United States to make his drawings, and to issue the prints by subscription in six sets of six views each. This was the first systematic attempt to depict the American landscape, and it is a foundation work in the history of American color-plates. Only nineteen of the intended thirty-six prints were produced, for either Shaw ran out of energy, or the public did not sufficiently support the venture.

The aquatinting of the prints was done by John Hill (1770-1850), another Englishman who had just settled in Philadelphia. This was Hill's first major American commission, and the next year he moved to New York City where he further enhanced his reputation as the premier aquatinter in the country. The publisher of the series, Mathew Carey & Son, was no less illustrious, as perhaps the dominant American publisher of the first two decades of the nineteenth century, and the successor firms of Carey & Son, and then Carey & Lea continued to play an important part in the history of American maps, books and prints.

The prints from this series are rare and lovely; beautifully rendered, exquisitely aquatinted and finely colored. Scenes are mostly of the eastern seaboard; showing America when the country was primarily rural, and tending to focus on the inland waterways, which were the major routes of travel and sources of energy at the time. These prints provide us with a precious snapshot of our land in its nascent age, when it would still have been recognizable to the colonists of the previous century. It is interesting to note, however, that while most of the locations that Shaw recorded have lost their rural character, this print captures a view that is much like that we can find today. $1,600
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Krimmel: Victuallers
John L. Krimmel. "Procession of Victuallers of Philadelphia, on the 15th of March, 1821. Conducted under the direction of Mr. William White..." Philadelphia: Joseph Yeager, 1821-22. First edition. 14 3/8 x 23 1/2. Aquatint by J. Yeager. Printed by Charles Woodward Jr. Full original hand coloring. Four tears in image expertly repaired. Paper somewhat time-toned with some mottling. Expertly conserved and very good appearance. Deak: 331; Munsing: 33; Naeve: 105; Stauffer: 3438. $3,000

This splendid view of early Philadelphia prosperity was the work of a celebrated and popular artist of the period. John L. Krimmel was a native of Germany, who came to the United States in 1810, settling in Philadelphia, where he painted portraits, miniatures, and good-natured street and domestic scenes. This elaborate visual chronicle was one of his most celebrated works. It was an important enough painting to be taken over as the subject of three different prints, the first edition being this large and separately issued aquatint published around 1821-22. As the long caption to the print explains, the event being commemorated is the conveying to market of an especially fine and abundant 'harvest' of livestock. We are told that 100 carts were required to transport 86,731 pounds of beef, pork, lamb, etc., all of which was sold within 24 hours. The successful cattle merchants are named individually along with an account of their contributions. The significance of the event and the picture as the fruition of the city's economic success and encouragement of good works is summed up in the seal and motto, "We feed the hungry," that appears in the title line.

The print captures the details and animation of the event with great intricacy and enthusiasm. The view was drawn from Mathew Carey & Son's book shop, located at the southeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets. The fully regaled butchers move triumphantly in procession down the street, riding amidst a long line of floats. They are cheered on by a dense crowd of onlookers romping along beside and hanging out of upper story windows. Faces, movements, clothes, are rendered in loving detail, as are the facades of the buildings. The varied and jovial coloring keeps up with the subject matter and graphic handling. For the moment it records, as well as the execution, this is one of the finest early Philadelphia prints.

T Birch Fairmount Water Works
Thomas Birch. "View of the Dam and Water Works at Fair Mount, Philadelphia." Philadelphia: Edward Parker, 1824. 7 x 14 3/4. Engraving by R. Campbell. With centerfold as originally issued. Repaired tear in sky near centerfold with minor wear along centerfold. Else, very good condition.

Thomas Birch gained prominence as an artist when he worked with his father on the prints for The City of Philadelphia. But this was only the beginning of his career and his accomplishments. Continuing to work in Philadelphia until his death in 1851, he created a rich and varied group of images of the city and its watery surroundings, including this view of the Fairmount Waterworks. Though the Fairmount Waterworks began operation in 1812 to 1815, very few printed images appeared of the site before the system was converted from steam to water power between 1819 and 1822. With its impressive size, neoclassical appearance, and riverside setting, the waterworks soon became the most popular Philadelphia subject for local and visiting artists. This view by Thomas Birch first appeared in the Report of the Watering Committee (1823), and thus Birch focuses on the mill house and dam, the latter depicted stretching across the center of the print. The original engine house, built in 1812 and also designed by Graff, is shown at the extreme right. To the left is the canal lock by-passing the dam, built as part of the agreement the City made with the Schuylkill Navigation Company in order to obtain the rights to water power at Fairmount. The view is oriented to look up the Schuylkill towards Lemon Hill, which can be seen in the background. Birch shows the Schuylkill teeming with activity. Several fishermen try their luck from the shore and nearby rocks, and more fishermen fill two of the three row boats below the dam. Steaming into the entrance of the lock is a paddle wheeler, ferrying passengers to the upper part of the river. $650

Klinkowstrom: 3rd Street Philadelphia
Axel Leonhard Klinckowström. "Third Street i Philadelphia." From Atlas til Friherre Klinkowströms Bref om de Forenta Staterne. Stockholm: Tryckeriet, 1824. Aquatint by Carl Frederik Akrell. 4 3/4 x 7 (image) plus margins. Very good condition.

Baron Axel Leonhard Klinckowström (1775-1837) was a Swedish aristocrat who spent the years 1818 to 1820 in America as a representative of his government. He wrote a fascinating book about his travels in America, Bref om de Forente Staterne, published by C. Muller in Stockholm in 1824, which was accompanied by an atlas of maps and prints that included nineteen views of New York, Washington and Philadelphia. The prints were beautifully aquatinted by Akrell, and their high quality bespeaks a sophisticated intended audience. While his use of aquatint to copy well known engravings provided a lovely and finished interpretation of American prints, his original pictures of New York City are considered original prints after his own paintings (Deak Picturing America, #s 310 and 322).

Although some of his Philadelphia views are thought to have been copied from William and Thomas Birch, this view of the "Mr. Kensie" saddlery and coach-harness manufactory at 39 3rd Street is original to Klinckowström. (Lane & Cresswell, Prints of Philadelphia #57, Phillips, Maps and Views of Philadelphia, #392). "Kensie" is Edmund (or Edmond) Kinsey, a saddler whose business was at the northwest corner of 3rd and Chestnut Streets at this time period, and who was a leader in 1817 of the "Philadelphia Society for the Promotion of American Manufacturers." This four storied building served for retail and wholesale trade, warehousing, and manufacturing. It was unusual for a series of city views of this period to include an image of a commercial establishment. This is an early view of a business structure in Philadelphia. $475

Klinkowstrom: Schuylkill Bridge
Axel L. Klinkowstrom, after Thomas Birch. "Bro öfver Skuylkill strömmen nära Philasdelphia." [Bridge over the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia]. From Atlas til Friherre Klinkowstroms Bref om de Forenta Staterne. Stockholm: Tryckeriet, 1824. 9 3/4 x 16 1/2 (image). Aquatint by Carl Fredrik Akrell. Hand color. Framed. $1,400

Baron Axel Klinkowstrom spent three years, from 1818 to 1820, in the United States as the emissary for Sweden. On his tours around the country, the Baron took copious notes and made many sketches. Upon his return to Sweden he issued a fascinating account of his travels, which was issued with an accompanying atlas that included nineteen views of New York, Washington and Philadelphia. The subject of this view is the Upper Ferry or Fairmount Bridge, a covered bridge over the Schuylkill River at Fairmount. It was built between 1809 and 1812, made entirely of wood and spanned a distance of 340 feet. Until it was destroyed by fire in 1838 the bridge was a Philadelphia landmark, both for its fine appearance and as an engineering feat. The scene is drawn from the eastern bank of the river near present day Philadelphia Museum of Art. Fairmount itself is not depicted, though the beginning of the slope is shown at right. Klinkowstrom's view is closely derived from Thomas Birch's image of the same site from a few years before.

Lehman: Elm of Shackamaxon
George Lehman. "The Great Elm Tree of Shackamaxon (Now Kensington)." Philadelphia, ca. 1829. First state. Aquatint by G. Lehman. 12 1/2 x 18 1/2 (image). Full original hand color. Very good condition. Framed to museum specifications. Fielding: 951; Fowble: 258. $2,700

George Lehman, a native of Lancaster, moved to Philadelphia where he became a noted artist, engraver, lithographer, and publisher. Perhaps his first work of importance is this lovely view of Philadelphia from Kensington. Though this scene is similar works by William Birch and John James Barralet, Lehman drew his own image of this popular view-point. The famous Treaty Tree stands majestically in the center of the image, with the bustling port of Philadelphia seen in the distance beneath the tree's branches. There are many boats on the river, and a sailing ship is being constructed on the beach at left. A number of pedestrians are shown in the foreground, including an artist sitting beneath the tree making a sketch. Interestingly, a family of goats seems to have lived around the Treaty Tree, for Barralet showed goats in his watercolor of 1796, and three goats are also shown in Lehman's view, one walking along a branch of the tree itself.

Moyamensing Prison
J.C. Wild. "U.S. Mint." [current location of Wanamaker Building] From Views of Philadelphia and its Vicinity. Philadelphia: J.C. Wild, 1840. 5 x 6 5/8. Lithograph. Original hand coloring. Trimmed to neatlines. Else, very good condition.

A lovely hand-colored view of the U.S. Mint that once stood in Center City Philadelphia by John Casper Wild. Wild was a Swiss artist who studied in Paris, and then came to Philadelphia around 1831. Soon after he moved to Cincinnati and then back to Philadelphia in 1837. At that time he formed a partnership with J.B. Chevalier to publish a series of small lithographs illustrating the city of Philadelphia. The intent was to sell the prints inexpensively, at a rate of 25 cents for two images, and this was done in part in conjunction with the Saturday Courier, which used the prints in its promotions. The prints were all issued in 1838, and when completed they were sold in a bound volume. The complete work consisted of twenty lovely scenes of Philadelphia and four additional larger prints that show the views from Independence Hall tower in the four cardinal directions. The project was not, however, a success for Wild, and in that year he left Philadelphia to move to the mid-west. The plates were reissued a number of times, including by J.T. Bowen over the next decade. Though he stayed only a short time in the city, Wild's twenty seven views of Philadelphia are amongst the most notable of the nineteenth century. $275
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Bartlett: Set of 4 Philadelphia views
W.H. Bartlett. Set of four framed prints: "Fairmount Gardens with the Schuylkill Bridge; Schuylkill Water Works; The United States Bank; The Exchange and Girard's Bank." From N.P. Willis' American Scenery. London: George Virtue, [1839-1840]. Octavo. 13 5/8 x 15 1/4 (frame size). Steel engraving. Hand coloring. Framed with handsome decorative matting. Very good condition. Note: the mat on the print of the "Exchange" is lighter in tone than the other three. Set of four: $1,200

William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854) was a British landscape artist famous for his views of all parts of the world. He made four trips to the United States to gather sketches for his book of views of America. This charming collection of natural wonders, architectural monuments and city landmarks was one of the most successful and popular series of such views to date. Bartlett's prints became the most influential travel engravings of America, and the four of Philadelphia are probably the most popular of any prints of the city.

After Benjamin West. "Wm. Penn's Treaty with the Indians when he Founded the Province of Pennsa. 1661." New York: N. Currier, 1838-56. Small folio: 8 1/8 x 12 1/2. Lithograph. Original hand color. Trimmed margins. Otherwise, very good condition. C:6697.

From 1834 to 1907 the firm of Nathaniel Currier, and then 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," becoming the visual raconteurs of 19th century America.

In 1834 Nathaniel Currier established the firm which produced colored pictures using a then-new process called lithography. Some of the finest artists of the day, including Louis Maurer, Thomas Worth, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Frances Flora Bond Palmer, George H. Durrie, Napoleon Sarony, Charles Parsons and J.E. Butterworth were engages by the firm to produce a variety of images. First printed in black and white, prints were then colored with imported Austrian pigments, by German women employed by the firm. Ready for foreign and domestic distribution, the prints were sold at home and abroad, sold to shops, mailed through catalogues, and hawked by push-cart peddlers, whose carts were covered with images selling for a few pennies apiece.

The firm produced two types of prints-"rush" stock prints quickly made to provide information about newsworthy events, and "stock" prints depicting every conceivable subject relating to American life, such as city views, sports, games, home life, religion, entertainment, and so forth. These print had a profound effect on popular culture, reflecting and influencing the tastes, attitudes and perception of the world held by many Americans.

This lithograph used as its source the famous large painting by Benjamin West that has also been reproduced by printmakers in the 18th and 19th centuries. The original painting hangs at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. $575

Hoffy: Philadelphia Grays
Alfred Hoffy. "The Artillery Corps of Philadelphia Greys, (Company D). Comd. By Capt. Geo. Cadwalader . . ." Philadelphia: P.S. Duval, 1845. 12 3/4 x 16 1/2. Lithograph by A. Hoffy. Original hand color. Very good fine condition. Wainwright: 367. $1,200

A very rare image of the Philadelphia Greys drawn "on the spot" by Alfred Hoffy and printed by P.S. Duval, perhaps the finest American print publisher of the mid-nineteenth century. From about 1835 until his retirement in 1869, Duval dominated the city's energetic printmaking scene publishing numerous lithographic portraits, periodical illustrations, and historical works. Duval's success was his ability to attract the very best lithographic artists to work for him, amongst whom was Alfred Hoffy, the author of this view. The scene shows the Philadelphia Greys being drilled near Powelton in West Philadelphia. The company is commanded by Captain Cadwalader, one of the most impressive of Philadelphia's military figures. This print is one of the more unusual and interesting views of Philadelphia from the mid-nineteenth century.

Carver: Advent PE Church
John E. Carver. "Advent Protestant Episcopal Church. Old York Road, Philadelphia." Philadelphia: J.E. Carver, 1845. 8 1/2 x 10 1/2. Lithograph by Wagner & McGuigan. Original hand color. Good margins. Minor blemishes. Otherwise, very good condition. Prints of Philadelphia: 155.

The many churches constructed in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century provided one of the major sources of work for the lithographic firms in the city, for the congregations would often commission prints of the new buildings. This brightly colored image shows the Advent Episcopal Church located on Old York Road Road at Buttonwood Street, near present day Sixth and Spring Garden Streets. It was lithographed by Wagner & McGuigan, a firm that became the city's largest the next decade. Interestingly, Thomas Wagner started his career drawing images of churches for Duval. $350

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Centre Square WaterworksFine art prints of Philadelphia
Fairmount WaterworksMaps of Philadelphia & Environs
Centennial ExhibitionViews of Philadelphia; under $250
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