Here are some of our recent acquisitions available for purchase.

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Adalbert Volck. Confederate War Etchings ([Philadelphia: Porter and Coates, 1882]). Large folio portfolio. Portfolio fair, wear to edges, reinforced spine, ties largely gone. Contents VG, all twenty-nine plates and the table of contents sheet present. Some of the tissue guards are a bit ragged. $1,800

Aldalbert Volck was an Austrian-born Baltimore dentist when the Civil War broke out. He immediately lent his talents to the Confederate war effort by issuing political engravings that ridiculed Union leaders and the Union army. He is often referred to as the Southern Thomas Nast. It is not a very useful appellation, though, because Nast in the pages of Harper’s Weekly helped mold Northern public opinion. Volck, on the other hand, circulated his etchings through clandestine channels. It is unlikely that any of his prints were viewed by more than a few hundred people. Be that as it may, they are nevertheless the best cartoons issued by a supporter of the Confederate cause.  There has never been and probably never will be a detailed history of the printing of Adalbert Volck’s Civil War etchings. All that is known for sure is that in 1863 he produced a first series consisting of ten prints under the title “Sketches from the Civil War in North America 1861, ‘62, ‘63.”. The following year in July, he announced that he would be issuing a second and third series, amounting to thirty-seven more engravings. Many of these have not survived; many were not even finished. In 1882, twenty-nine of the original plates came into the hands of Philadelphia publisher Porter and Coates. They issued restrikes along with a contents page in a portfolio limited to 100 sets for $10 each. The sets sold poorly and were remaindered to a Buffalo bookseller for $3.25 a piece. Despite public indifference, at least one and perhaps two publishers reprinted the set later in the decade. A few institutions appear to hold incomplete sets of the Civil War-era printings. Realistically, the 1880s restrikes are the closest any collector will come to owning originals of Volck’s etchings.

C. Hall. Family Record of Horace Batcheler… c. 1865. Calligraphic document. Reveal: 15.75” x 13”. VG with light staining to the upper left and upper right quadrants. In a battered period frame. $500 

Batcheler was a prominent name in 19th century Sutton, MA (South Sutton having since been absorbed into the larger town to its north), starting with the Rev. William Batcheler, who was settled there by 1800. His son, William, was a contractor, responsible for building many of the houses in town. Horace apparently followed his father into the trade, building his own house and others during his lifetime (1819-1900). This beautifully rendered document is enhanced by three carte de visites of the subjects, Horace, his wife Betsy, and their son, Horace. We have been unable to identify other works by the talented Hall. Unique.

The Vanity Fair Album, Second Series (London: Vanity Fair, [1871]). Small folio. Publisher’s binding VG+, tight. Contents near fine. $400

Vanity Fair, a weekly of news, politics, and society, only in its second year in 1870, was already a hit. Its most distinctive feature was the color lithographs of (mainly) men of the day, drawn in droll caricature first by Atn (Alfred Thompson) and then Spy (Leslie Ward). Ape (Carlo Pelligini) came later. This volume collects all 52 lithographs that appeared in the magazine in 1870, along with Jehu Junior’s pithy biographies that accompanied them when they initially appeared. Highlight caricatures in this volume include: Bismarck, Pius IX, Victor Emanuel of Italy, the Count Prince of Prussia, Judges Bovill and Pollock (the latter red robed), Sir Robert Peel, journalist Henri Rochefort, and man of letters Thomas Carlyle.  Bright and striking.

The Lark (San Francisco)

Vol. 1, No. 1 (May 1895) to Vol. 2, No. 24 (April 1897) comprising 24 issues in all, a complete run, along with the Epilark, an “intimate history of the Lark,” published in May 1897, bound in two volumes of decorated cloth by the publisher. Small octavos. Bindings VG+, better than usually encountered. Contents VG to fine, delicate as usual, printed on bamboo paper. $250

The Lark has the distinction of being the first magazine in America devoted to nonsense. It can’t be said that it was a reaction to the famous humor magazines of the day (which took themselves rather seriously) because that would imply that the Lark had a mission. Its only purpose was to provide an outlet for the whimsies of its creators, chief among them Gelett Burgess, with help from Carolyn Wells, Maynard Dixon, Florence Lundberg, Ernest Peixotto, and Bruce Porter. It was a very high level of whimsy, however. Mott got it right when he said, “The Lark was unique in its high spirits and its freshness; and was as clever as the best of the [little magazines of the 1890’s] — one of the most charming magazines ever published.” (Mott/IV/388) In its pages, the country was first introduced to Burgess’ antic humor, including the immortal lines: “I never saw a purple cow/I never hope to see one/But I can tell you anyhow/I’d rather see than be one.” (which appeared in the first issue) and the equally wonderful sequel: “Ah, yes, I wrote the Purple Cow/I’m sorry now I wrote it/But I can tell you anyhow/I’ll kill you if you quote it.” (final issue). Burgess and his co-conspirators went off to lead interesting and productive lives in the arts. But nothing they did or anyone else has done since quite matched the originality of the Lark.

[Will Bradley] About Boys (New York: Rogers, Peet & Company, 1899) 12mo. VG, rebacked. Cover and contents profusely illustrated by Bradley. $250

By the turn of the century, Rogers, Peet & Company, founded in 1874, was a major clothier for males. In 1899, they commissioned Will Bradley, at that time with the University Press in Cambridge, MA, to design two sales books for them, one featuring men’s clothing and one featuring boys. The 56-page boys catalog features five full page two-color drawings by Bradley that illustrated nursery rhymes and many decorative flourishes. The catalog also features drawings by another hand of the products themselves. Classy and quaint. 

William Wall/John Hill. New York from the Heights Near Brooklyn and New York from Weehawken (New York: William Wall, 1823). Hand-colored aquatint engravings. Each 18.75” x 25.25”.  Backed with acid-free paper. Brooklyn is VG- with a light stain to the title bar and modest discoloration to the margins and sky. Weehawken is VG with modest discoloration to margins.  $5,000

This is a matching pair of separately issued Federal Period views of New York City, one from the east (the Heights near Brooklyn) and one from the west (Weehawken, New Jersey). Print historian Gloria Gilda Deák praises them as “two of the most beautiful views we have of New York City in the early nineteenth century.” Deák describes this print at length in her book Picturing America, a compendium of important prints in the New York Public Library collection. She cites a published account in 1823 that praised Wall’s view as “the most accurate description that we have seen” made from “the Mountain at Weehawk,” affording him a sweeping view of the city, its harbor and islands. Deák also provides this historical context:

William Guy Wall has given us matching views of New York much in the manner of two sides of the same coin. Here we view the city across the East River from the Heights near Brooklyn and, in the complementary view, the city from the Jersey side, looking across the Hudson River.  Both views are exceedingly well balanced, and both retain an eighteenth-century elegance in the clarity and fluid handling of the topographic projection, qualities enhanced by the skillful aquatinting of John Hill. Wall’s style is generically descended from that of the English artist Paul Sandby, a distinguished watercolorist who introduced the art of aquatint to England. 

William Guy Wall (1792-1864) was a watercolorist, landscape painter, and print publisher. Born and trained in art in Ireland, he emigrated to New York City in 1818, where he spent the next ten years. There he won wide recognition for his views of the City and the Hudson River. In addition to New York From Weehawk and New York from Heights near Brooklyn, he painted a set of twenty views, from New York City to successive vantage points along the Hudson River, engraved by John Hill and published in the Hudson River Portfolio (1821-1825). A founding member of the National Academy, he exhibited there and at the Pennsylvania Academy. He continued painting and exhibiting his work over the next several decades relocating several times between New England, New York State and Dublin, Ireland. 

John Hill (1770-1849) began his career as an aquatint engraver of landscapes in his native London, publishing a series of views after the paintings of J.M.W. Turner and others. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1816 and continued engraving for the next twenty years, first in Philadelphia and later in New York. His son and grandson, John William Hill and John Henry Hill, also became noted landscape painters.