John Serz. “Philadelphia and Environs/und Umgegend.”
Philadelphia: F. W. Thomas & Sons, ca 1865. 14 1/4 x 21 1/2. Engraving by J. Serz. Large margins. Very good condition. Not in Reps. Snyder, Mirror of America: 636. Unrecorded state from this publisher. A/A
A rare and very decorative bird’s eye view of Philadelphia, drawn and engraved by John Serz. Serz came from Bavaria, first to New York City and then to Philadelphia in about 1850. He stayed in Philadelphia until his death, and during that 25 or so year period he engraved a number of historical plates along with numerous subjects of local interest. This print is very finely engraved, presenting a view of the developed area of the city in the center and the rural nature of the lands to the south and north, today completely transformed into an urban landscape. In the foreground is the Camden waterfront and the rivers are shown teaming with sailing and steam vessels. This print is difficult to date, though it was published by I.G. Kohler, a publisher, bookseller and book binder who was active from the 1870s to 1890s. There is also a decorative border, adding a final flourish to this fascinating and most attractive view of Philadelphia before the Centennial.
All known copies of this print were published by I.G. Kohler, a publisher, bookseller and book binder who was active in publishing German American publications. It hard to say who published this print first. The publisher of this print, F. W. Thomas, first went into business in 1842 and was known particularly for publishing three Philadelphia German newspapers and also German classical works. An advertisement for their establishment appeared in the American Newspaper Directory in 1872.