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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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Masonic Hall Chesnut Street
William Strickland (?). "Masonic Hall Chesnut St. Philadelphia. Erected A.D. 1813. Destroyed by Fire A.D. 1819." Philadelphia: Wm. Spink, Wm. Kneass, & Philip R. Engard, 1853. Lithograph. 19 3/8 x 18 1/8. Printed by "D. Chillas, Lith. 50 S. 3rd. Street." Full original hand color. Third State. Tear extending into sky about 1 1/2 inch and tear in bottom margin expertly repaired. Otherwise, very good condition. See Snyder, Mirror of America: 508 for an earlier state; Wainwright: 229. Framed.

Masonic Hall was one of the first and best examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the United States. Designed in brick and marble by William Strickland, this striking edifice located on Chestnut Street above Seventh burned in spectacular fashion in 1819 watched by a large crowd of spectators. This print, originally issued in 1813, was reprinted in 1853 by the publishers who were themselves Masons. This was possibly done to celebrate the completion of a new Masonic Hall on the same site. Due to its short history, few prints of this building were made and the only other large print depicts the burning. Even though the artist of this print is unknown, there is no doubt that he was heavily influenced by William Birch, who issued a series of views of Philadelphia a few years earlier. The probable artist is the architect - William Strickland. $1,250



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



George Lehman. "The Great Elm Tree of Shackamaxon (Now Kensington)." [Philadelphia, ca. 1829]. Second state; Philadelphia: William Smith, ca. 1860+. Aquatint by G. Lehman. Very good condition. Prints of Philadelphia: 79; Fielding: 951; Fowble: 258; Snyder: Mirror, 589.

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. $1,700



White's Cattle Show
J. L. Krimmel. "White's Great Cattle Show, and Grand Procession of the Victuallers of Philadelphia." Philadelphia: A. Clement, 1860-61. Third edition. 14 3/8 x 23 1/4. Lithographed on stone by L. Haugg. Printed by F. Bourquin & Co. Original hand coloring. Expertly repaired tears, some extending into image and title area. Otherwise, very good condition.

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, including this large and separately issued lithograph published around 1860. 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. $2,300



S. Jones & J. L. Krimmel. "The Conflagration of the Masonic Hall Chestnut Street Philadelphia. Which Occurred on the Night of the 9th of March, 1819". [Philadelphia, 1819.] Later strike, Philadelphia: William Smith, 1862-91 (fourth state). 21 1/4 x 17. Aquatint by J. Hill. Areas of in-painting in sky. Dry-mounted. Naeve, John Lewis Krimmel: 96c; Fowble, Two Centuries of Prints In America: 317; Deak: 309; Stauffer: 1345.

The dramatic event depicted is the burning of the Masonic Hall, a gothic brick and marble structure designed by William Strickland and built to much acclaim in 1809-10. This striking edifice, located on Chestnut Street above Seventh, burned in spectacular fashion in 1819, watched by a large crowd of spectators. The print was issued by Kennedy & West just a few months after the conflagration, a very short time to bring out a print of such an event. This rousing print well captures the drama of the scene, conveying the excitement of this Philadelphia disaster from over a century and a half ago, and testifying to the ability of the artists and engraver.

The view was a collaboration of two artists, John L. Krimmel and Samuel Jones. Little information is available on the life and works of Jones. He seems to have been commissioned by the original publishers to paint the background for the scene. For the figures in the foreground, John L. Krimmel was hired. 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 scenes. Krimmel is particularly known for his delightful treatment of the latter, and this print is a fine example of his style. Krimmel was able to graphically capture the frenzy of activity at the scene, the details and furor of the fire illustrated with great intricacy and emotion. The print was aquatinted by John Hill, the most skilled etcher in the United States. Hill (1770-1850) was an Englishman who had just settled in Philadelphia, and he was soon to go on to other projects which would bring him great fame. $550



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


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©The Philadelphia Print Shop Last updated March 23, 2021