Balth Frederic Leizelt. "Philadelphia/Philadelphie."
Augsbourg: F.X. Habermann and B.F. Leizelt, 1776+. 9 7/8 x 15 1/2. Engraving by B.F. Leizelt. Original hand color. Text in German and French, with supertitle, “Vue De Philadelphie,” printed in reverse. Very good condition. Cresswell: 584; Fowble: 168; Prints of Philadelphia: 21; Snyder: 242. With old glue stains, and partially adhered to board. As is.
During the late eighteenth century, there was a great demand for perspective views, also known as vue d’optique prints, showing the cities of the world. These prints were intended to be projected in a viewing machine called an "optical machine," "zograscope" or "peepshow," that was used both in private and by peddlers in the streets of Europe. The title, “Vue De Philadelphie,” which was printed in reverse at the top would have been seen right-way-round when the print was projected, while the text below would have been read by the operator of the machine, the two languages reflecting the international trade for these prints. F.X. Habermann and B.F. Leizelt issued a large number of such prints in their “Collection des Prospects,” of which this is one of the more famous. To save time and money, these publishers were less than scrupulous in using accurate images of the cities their prints purported to portray. This is a delightful example of their lack of concern with correct images, for this alleged view of Philadelphia is actually an image of the Hospital at Greenwich, England. The view is derived from an engraving by William Woollett after Richard Paton entitled “View of the Royal Dock Yard at Deptford.” Leizelt used the right hand side of the engraving for a perspective view of “New York” and the left hand side for this view of “Philadelphia.” In Philadelphia there never were buildings nor a quay like that shown, but this widely disseminated print would have provided many in Europe with their image of this city far across the ocean.