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The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Historical Prints

Historical Prints


A Selection of Historical PrintsCharts of World HistoryHistorical Cartoons
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Historic Figures
George WashingtonAbraham LincolnOther Presidents
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of Lincoln and Contemporaries
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Mexican-American WarCivil WarSpanish American War
American Philippine WarWorld Wars I & II
American Political Prints
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English historyRevolt of the NetherlandsFrench Cavalry Prints


A Selection of Interesting Prints:

"An Address of Members of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, to Their Constituents, on the Subject of the War with Great Britain." New York: C.S. Van Winkle, 1812. 8 1/2 x 5 1/4. 32pp. With stains.

This pamphlet is a protest of the War of 1812, signed by thirty-four members of Congress. The New York printing is one of several appearing the same year in Alexandria, Hartford, New Haven, Baltimore and other cities.

Interestingly, one of the signers, Maryland-born Philip Barton Key (1757-1815), was an uncle of Francis Scott Key, who wrote "The Star Spangled Banner" during this war. Philip was a loyalist British officer during the time of the American Revolution, but never fought against the United States. He had resigned his British army pension in order to enter Congress in 1807. $45

"Speech of Henry Clay, in Defence of the American System, Against the British Colonial System, with an Appendix of Documents Referred to in the Speech: Delivered in the Senate of the United States, February 2d, 3d, and 6th, 1832." Washington, Gales and Seaton, 1832. 44 pages. 8 3/8 x 5 1/2. Expected foxing and toning. Else, very good condition.

Clay's "American System" consisted of three policies: a tariff to protect and promote American industry; a national bank to foster commerce; and, tariffs and sales of public lands to fund federal subsidies for roads, canals, and other internal improvements to develop profitable markets for agriculture.

Historian and Clay biographer Robert Remini has been quoted as saying that this 1832 speech "buttressed logical arguments with statistical data, all compellingly presented with humor, grace, passion, a touch of sarcasm here and there, and the force of personality and language." $25

Daniel Webster. "An Address, Delivered at the Completion of the Bunker Hill Monument, June 17, 1843." Sewn with Webster's "An Address Delivered at the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Bunker Hill Monument, June 17, 1825." Boston: Tappan and Dennet, 1843. 20 pages + 15 pages. 10 x 6 1/4. Expected toning plus some staining in bottom margins. Else, good condition.

Daniel Webster (1782-1852) was one of the most prominent statesmen in our nation's first century. In 1825, a crowd including some forty survivors of the Battle of Bunker Hill heard the Massachusetts orator conclude his cornerstone address as follows: "Let our object be, OUR COUNTRY, OUR WHOLE COUNTRY, AND NOTHING BUT OUR COUNTRY. And, by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of wisdom, of peace, and of liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration for ever!"

Eighteen years later, the monument was finished and the audience listened to Webster's peroration: "We have indulged in gratifying recollections of the past, in the prosperity and pleasures of the present, and in high hopes of the future. But let us remember that we have duties and obligations to perform, corresponding to the blessings which we enjoy. Let us remember the trust, the sacred trust, attaching to the rich inheritance which we have received from our fathers. Let us feel our personal responsibility, to the full extent of our power and influence, for the preservation of our institutions of civil and religious liberty. And let us remember that it is only religion, and morals, and knowledge, that can make men respectable and happy under any form of government. Let us hold fast the great truth that communities are responsible, as well as individuals; that no government is respectable which is not just; that without unspotted purity of public faith, without sacred public principle, fidelity and honor - no mere forms of government, no machinery of laws, can give dignity to political society."

Webster's nineteenth century words can inspire Americans even in the twenty-first century. $25

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

Ormsby: Declaration of Independence
John Trumbull. "Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. July 4th 1776." New York: W.L. Ormsby, ca. 1830. Restrike ca. 1876? 20 1/4 x 30 1/4. Engraving by "W. L. Ormsby after Durand." Hand color. Print has been professionally conserved and backed with rice paper. Three tears into image expertly repaired. Some chipping in margin which has been filled with rice paper backing. Margins trimmed to plate mark but ample for framing. Some scuffing in image and margins. Wear in title indicating a later strike. Else, fine condition.

John Trumbull was a participant in the American Revolution and a friend of most of the great figures of his day, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. After he left the army, Trumbull found his way to the London studio of fellow American Benjamin West. West was an innovator who had established that painting images of historical scenes in the grand European style was a respectable theme for an artist. Inspired by his instructor, Trumbull conceived of a series of canvases on the history of his own country. He painted scenes of the Battle of Bunker's Hill, the Death of General Montgomery, and the Declaration of Independence. For the latter of these Trumbull resolved to show only accurate likenesses of the signers, in line with his concern of presenting a true memorial to this historic event. Trumbull drew images in person where he could, using other life portraits or portraits of the sons for any of the other signers who were no longer alive or available.

It was difficult to make a living from the sale of such paintings, and Trumbull thought there might be a better chance of profit from selling engravings. Thus he had prints made of Bunker's Hill and the Death of Montgomery, but these did not sell well and Trumbull did not proceed on the Declaration. However, with the success of his larger version of the painting, commissioned to be hung in the U.S. Capitol, Trumbull decided to again try the market with a print of this scene. He had American engraver Asher B. Durand produce a large image of the Declaration, which subsequently became one of the most popular American patriotic scenes, leading to a number of other versions in different sizes. This is the finest of the derivative images, engraved by Waterman Lilly Ormsby (1809-1883). Ormsby was a New York engraver who was famous for founding the Continental Bank Note Company of New York. He invented a ruling machine, a transfer press, and a "grammagraph," according to Stauffer a device for engraving directly on steel from medals and medallions. This print, approximately the size of Durand's original is an exquisite example of Ormsby's fine and strong work with the addition of a delicate and complete key etched at the bottom margin. This print is most likely a restrike or a later printing issued for the Centennial in order to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence one hundred years earlier. $2,400

An American Interpretation of John Singleton Copley's "The Death of Major Peirson"

Defending the Flag
Anonymous engraving after a painting by John Singleton Copley. "Defending the Flag." No place or date given, but style and printing technique suggests American done between 1855 and 1875. Etching. 19 x 23 (plate marks) 26 1/4 x 32 (full sheet). Excellent condition.

This unusual print is a direct copy from John Singleton Copley's famous painting "The Death of Major Peirson" executed 1782-84. The original oil painting, now in the Tate Gallery, London, celebrated an incident in the town square of St. Helier on the Channel Isle of Jersey. French forces had almost taken the town and island when a young Major Francis Peirson rallied the British forces, counterattacked, and drove the invaders off. At the moment of victory, the youthful officer was killed, and this picture showed him being carried from the field amid the excitement and terror of battle.

An anonymous American engraver took the same image and transformed it into a patriotic statement by changing the Union Jack to the American colonial flag and entitling the print "Defending the Flag." Other more subtle changes were wrought by inscribing "U.S." on the drum in the left foreground and removing the background statue of George III from under the tassel on the flag. Otherwise most of the details remain: significantly, the vignette at the right showing the fleeing family for which Copley used his wife and son, the gallant Negro covering the party carrying the dead hero, and other troops gallantly fighting. This print could have been created in the mid-1850s in response to attempts to generate patriotism by reminding the populace of the American Revolution during a time of regional strife building between the North and the South. Similar images were also used after the Civil War to help bind the wounds, and they continued well into the 1870s as Americans celebrated the centennial of the United States. Printing style and paper size suggest a later date rather than an earlier one, but we find no other documentation on this print, and our forefathers in the prints business constantly amaze us with their products. $650


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

Brown: Webster addressing U.S. Senate
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. With printed key to the figures.

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. $1,500

A newspaper contemporary with John Brown's Raid. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. December 24, 1859. 8 leaves folded as originally issued and uncut. Eight woodblock illustrations. Some staining and minor tears. 16 3/4 x 11 (overall dimensions).

Most illustrated newspapers from the nineteenth century survived because they were bound into annual volumes and placed into libraries and museums. Here is an exception because this single issue allows the owner/researcher to feel the weight of history as two men from John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry were executed soon after their capture. The bodies of John E. Cook and Edwin Cooper hang from a gallows in Charlestown, Virginia (now West Virginia) surrounded by a large contingent of soldiers. Besides scenes in the United States there are portraits of influential men involved with the insurrection in Port Au Prince as well as the United States. $125

Small historical engravings

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 5, 2018