Serigraphy

Serigraphy ( also known as screen-printing or silk screen) is a versatile printing process, based on the stencil principle. The method first appeared in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), and gained popularity in 18th century Europe, thanks to imports of silk from the East. A group of WPA artists, who later formed the National Serigraphic Society, coined the word “serigraphy” in the 1930s in effort to differentiate the artistic application from the commercial printing application. Serigraphy was later made famous in the 1960s by Andy Warhol, who used the medium to achieve a bold, commercial look in his pop-icon prints.

To make a serigraph, a fine woven fabric is tightly stretched and attached to a metal or sturdy wood frame. This forms the printing screen. A stencil is then created on the screen, by the application of a blockout. Artists have experimented with numerous blockout methods over time- including paper, hand-cut film, glue, photosensitive emulsion, and gelatin film. The blockout areas become the non-image areas. After the blockout is laid and dried, paper is placed below the screen and thick ink is squeezed into a line across the top of the screen. The ink is then dragged along the surface of the screen with a squeegee. This forces the ink to pass through the open area of the stencil onto the paper below. For multi-colored prints, a separate screen is required for each color.

Below are several serigraph prints we have in our OPG inventory, by early 20th century and contemporary artists. Hope you enjoy!

Trio. Dorie Marder. Serigraph, 1945. Image size 14 7/8 x 10 7/8" (377 x 276 mm). Edition 45. LINK.

Trio. By Dorie Marder. Serigraph, 1945. Image size 14 7/8 x 10 7/8″ (377 x 276 mm). Edition 45. LINK.

Urban Views.  (Large) #6B. Patrick J. Anderson. Serigraph, 2003. Image size 6 x 6" (151 x 151 mm). Edition 12. LINK.

Urban Views. (Large) #6B.  By Patrick J. Anderson. Serigraph, 2003. Image size 6 x 6″ (151 x 151 mm). Edition 12. LINK.

Coastal Whimsey. Joan Drew. Serigraph, 1965. Image size 8 1/8 x 12 1/2" (210 x 320 mm). Edition 55. LINK.

Coastal Whimsey. By Joan Drew. Serigraph, 1965. Image size 8 1/8 x 12 1/2″ (210 x 320 mm). Edition 55. LINK.

Prairie Sunset. Allan Simpson. Serigraph, 1987. Image size 16 5/16 x 20 1/4" (416 x 514 mm). Edition 30. LINK.

Prairie Sunset. By Allan Simpson. Serigraph, 1987. Image size 16 5/16 x 20 1/4″ (416 x 514 mm). Edition 30. LINK.

Dancing. Thomas Seawell. Serigraph and archival digital, 2010. Tondo - diameter 9 1/2 x 9 1/2" (240 mm). Edition 10. LINK.

Dancing.  By Thomas Seawell. Serigraph and archival digital, 2010. Tondo – diameter 9 1/2 x 9 1/2″ (240 mm). Edition 10. LINK.

Space Planes. Morris A. Blackburn. Serigraph, c. 1950.  8 5/8 x 12" (227 x 305 mm). LINK.

Space Planes.  By Morris A. Blackburn. Serigraph, c. 1950. 8 5/8 x 12″ (227 x 305 mm). LINK.

Pet. Joan Drew. Serigraph, 1967. Image size 2 3/4 x 2" (72 x 40 mm).  Edition 51. LINK.

Pet. By Joan Drew. Serigraph, 1967. Image size 2 3/4 x 2″ (72 x 40 mm). Edition 51. LINK.

Point Blank Distance. By Masaaki Noda. Serigraph, 1996. Image size 12 1/8 x 19 1/4" (308 x 488 mm). Edition 40. LINK.

Point Blank Distance. By Masaaki Noda. Serigraph, 1996. Image size 12 1/8 x 19 1/4″ (308 x 488 mm). Edition 40. LINK.

Hartling Bay. Richard T. Davis. Color serigraph, 1993. Image size 17 3/4 x 20 1/4" (445 x 509 mm). Edition 145. LINK.

Hartling Bay. By Richard T. Davis. Color serigraph, 1993. Image size 17 3/4 x 20 1/4″ (445 x 509 mm). Edition 145. LINK.

New Additions: Decorative Lettering

NEW ADDITIONS bannerNEW ADDITIONSWe recently added several beautiful prints from an 1880 engraved book of penmanship and lettering. Each page offers sumptuous script examples, ranging from the traditional to the ornate to the quirky. Lettering has a long tradition in books and prints- some of the earliest examples of ornamental script come from medieval and renaissance illuminated manuscripts. In the Victorian era, penmanship, calligraphy, and decorative lettering were taught in schools. Publications like this one gave interested students of script examples of lavish and lush type. The prints featured today are typographic gems, with the slightly slopping letters of calligraphy mixed in with  blocky, Gothic blackletter examples. A true gem is the print of two “Rustic Alphabets”, designed by Daniel T. Ames and Charles Rollinson. Curled leaves and twisted tree trunks transform into lower and uppercase alphabet letters, which are populated with small, sweet birds flying from letter to letter. We also added several engraved certificates, which are prime examples of vintage handwritten script and engraved decorative elements co-existing on one page. Hope you enjoy!

Specimens. Engraving, 1880. Image size 11 x 8 1/2" (282 x 218 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A page of examples of lettering. Good condition. LINK.

Specimens. Engraving, 1880. Image size 11 x 8 1/2″ (282 x 218 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A page of examples of lettering. Good condition. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Specimens. Engraving, 1880. Image size 11 x 8 1/2" (282 x 218 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A page of examples of lettering. Good condition. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Specimens. Engraving, 1880. Image size 11 x 8 1/2″ (282 x 218 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A page of examples of lettering. Good condition. LINK.

Designs for Book Marking.  Page 44. Engraving, 1880.Image size 11 1/2 x 9" (295 x 230 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  Four examples of ornately lettered book markers. LINK.

Designs for Book Marking. Page 44. Engraving, 1880.Image size 11 1/2 x 9″ (295 x 230 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. Four examples of ornately lettered book markers. LINK.

Rustic Alphabet by Daniel T. Ames.  Rustic Alphabet by Charles Rollinson. Engraving, 1880. Image size 11 1/2 x 8 3/4" (294 x 225 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  Two decorative alphabets are pictured. LINK.

Rustic Alphabet by Daniel T. Ames. Rustic Alphabet by Charles Rollinson. Engraving, 1880. Image size 11 1/2 x 8 3/4″ (294 x 225 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. Two decorative alphabets are pictured. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Rustic Alphabet by Daniel T. Ames.  Rustic Alphabet by Charles Rollinson. Engraving, 1880. Image size 11 1/2 x 8 3/4" (294 x 225 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  Two decorative alphabets are pictured. LINK.

(DETAIL OF)
Rustic Alphabet by Daniel T. Ames. Rustic Alphabet by Charles Rollinson. Engraving, 1880. Image size 11 1/2 x 8 3/4″ (294 x 225 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. Two decorative alphabets are pictured. LINK.

Souvenir....   Page 48. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 1/2 x 8 1/2" (268 x 217 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A page of words and letters in ornate lettering styles. LINK.

Souvenir…. Page 48. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 1/2 x 8 1/2″ (268 x 217 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A page of words and letters in ornate lettering styles. LINK.

(DETAIL OF)  Souvenir....   Page 48. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 1/2 x 8 1/2" (268 x 217 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A page of words and letters in ornate lettering styles. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Souvenir…. Page 48. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 1/2 x 8 1/2″ (268 x 217 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A page of words and letters in ornate lettering styles. LINK.

I.O.O.F. Grand Encampment State of New York... City of Rochester Aug. 24th 1876...Francis Rogers... Engraving, 1876. Image size 11 1/8 x 9" oval (284 x 227 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A certificate of thanks to Francis Rogers for the "courteous manner in which he discharged his duties" as the Grand Patriarch. LINK.

I.O.O.F. Grand Encampment State of New York… City of Rochester Aug. 24th 1876…Francis Rogers. Engraving, 1876. Image size 11 1/8 x 9″ oval (284 x 227 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A certificate of thanks to Francis Rogers for the “courteous manner in which he discharged his duties” as the Grand Patriarch. LINK.

(DETAIL OF)  I.O.O.F. Grand Encampment State of New York... City of Rochester Aug. 24th 1876...Francis Rogers... Engraving, 1876. Image size 11 1/8 x 9" oval (284 x 227 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A certificate of thanks to Francis Rogers for the "courteous manner in which he discharged his duties" as the Grand Patriarch. LINK.

(DETAIL OF)
I.O.O.F. Grand Encampment State of New York… City of Rochester Aug. 24th 1876…Francis Rogers… Engraving, 1876. Image size 11 1/8 x 9″ oval (284 x 227 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A certificate of thanks to Francis Rogers for the “courteous manner in which he discharged his duties” as the Grand Patriarch. LINK.

(DETAIL OF)  I.O.O.F. Grand Encampment State of New York... City of Rochester Aug. 24th 1876...Francis Rogers... Engraving, 1876. Image size 11 1/8 x 9" oval (284 x 227 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A certificate of thanks to Francis Rogers for the "courteous manner in which he discharged his duties" as the Grand Patriarch. LINK.

(DETAIL OF)
I.O.O.F. Grand Encampment State of New York… City of Rochester Aug. 24th 1876…Francis Rogers… Engraving, 1876. Image size 11 1/8 x 9″ oval (284 x 227 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A certificate of thanks to Francis Rogers for the “courteous manner in which he discharged his duties” as the Grand Patriarch. LINK.

City of New York... Hon. Jordan L. Mott... Board of Aldermen... Jan. 5th, 1880... Engraving,1880. Image size 11 1/8 x 9" oval (284 x 227 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A certificate of thanks for service as an alderman in 1879. LINK.

City of New York… Hon. Jordan L. Mott… Board of Aldermen… Jan. 5th, 1880. Engraving,1880. Image size 11 1/8 x 9″ oval (284 x 227 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A certificate of thanks for service as an alderman in 1879. LINK.

Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title)  Page 41. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8" (255 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  An exquisitely decorative alphabet is pictured. LINK.

Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title) Page 41. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8″ (255 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. An exquisitely decorative alphabet is pictured. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title)  Page 41. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8" (255 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  An exquisitely decorative alphabet is pictured. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title) Page 41. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8″ (255 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. An exquisitely decorative alphabet is pictured. LINK.

Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title)  Page 43. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8" (225 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A decorative alphabet with very ornamental letters below. LINK.

Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title) Page 43. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8″ (225 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A decorative alphabet with very ornamental letters below. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title)  Page 43. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8" (225 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A decorative alphabet with very ornamental letters below. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title) Page 43. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8″ (225 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A decorative alphabet with very ornamental letters below. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title)  Page 43. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8" (225 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship.  A decorative alphabet with very ornamental letters below. LINK.

(DETAIL OF) Decorative Alphabet. (Supplied title) Page 43. Engraving, 1880. Image size 10 x 8″ (225 x 204 mm). From a book of lettering and penmanship. A decorative alphabet with very ornamental letters below. LINK.

 

New Additions: Washington DC Pocket Map

NEW ADDITIONS bannerNEW ADDITIONSWe just added an early pocket map of Washington DC to our inventory. Pocket maps, sometimes called case maps, are separately-issued, folding maps attached or slid into a hard cover. They first appeared in the United States in the 1820s and 30s, partly prompted by the burgeoning development of railways. The early pocket maps emphasize new railroad lines, canals, and road distances, sometimes with charts of calculated travel times to and from key cities. During the Civil War, pocket maps had significant military use due to portability and lower production costs. Later pocket maps were used like advertisements, produced by entrepreneurial business owners and travel companies.

Hope you enjoy!

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Map of the City of Washington. By F. C. DeKrafft. Published by A. Rothwell. Stone engraving,1836. 15 3/8 x 20 3/4″ plus hairline margins. Retains original red leather covers with gold tooled title, “City of Washington.” Accompanied by a 18 page guide to the city with the title, “Picture of the City of Washington, Being a Concise Description of the City, Public Buildings, &c. Accompanied by a correct map.” Of note, the newly formed “Jackson City” (1835) in shown across the Long Bridge in Virginia. The railroad route to Baltimore is also shown prominently on the map. Engraved by Mrs. W. I. Stone. B. Homans, printer  LINK.

 

 

 

Past/Present: Honeysuckle

past present logo copyToday we are happy to share a new Past/Present post, featuring two stunning honeysuckle prints. The older print is a scarce lithograph, with original hand color, from “Flora’s Dictionary,” by Mrs. E.W. Wirt of Virginia.  With a publication date of 1837, Mrs. Wirt’s book is one of the earliest colored botanical works published in America.  Rather than depicting a single flower, each plate shows a carefully selected grouping.  As Bennett notes, “The arrangements of flowers are beautifully balanced and the coloring is brilliant.”  (Bennett, “American Color Plate Books, 115).

The woodcut is by English woodcut artist Mayel Allington Royds (1874-1941). Royds grew up in Liverpool and turned down a scholarship at age of fifteen to the Royal Academy of London, in order to attend the Slade School of Art and study under the formidable Henry Tonks. After an apprenticeship in Paris working in the studio of Walter Sickert, Royds accepted a teaching post at the Havergal College in Toronto. She later returned to the UK to teach at the Edinburgh College of Art where she met three people integral to her artistic development and life: Samuel Peploe, a Scottish post-impressionist painter highly regarded for his mastery of color, Frank Morley Fletcher, under whose influence she took up Japanese color woodcuts, and her future husband, Scottish etcher E. S. Lumsden.

Together Lumsen and Royds traveled to Tibet and India, their experiences serving as inspiration for her later woodcuts, both in design and in the use of saturated, rich color. The scenes she created of India from 1920 to 1930s are some of her more renowned work. From 1930 to 1933, Royds created a series of flower prints, which utilized her bold color work and Japanese woodblock technique. These stunning compositions, including Honeysuckle, are now part of the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Scotland. Royds was a regular contributor to the Society of Scottish Artists, the Society of Artist Printers, and the Graver Printers in Colour, exhibited her work in Scotland, Manchester, and further abroad.

Hope you enjoy these two prints!

Image on the left: Honeysuckle, Coral Honeysuckle, Wild Honeysuckle, Hop. Plate XXIV.  From “Flora’s Dictionary,” by Mrs. E.W. Wirt of Virginia. Embellished by Mrs. Anna Smith. Published by Fielding Lucas, Jr., Baltimore. Lithograph, original hand color, 1837. Image size (vignette) 7 x 5″ (175 x 130 mm).

Image on the rightHoneysuckle. By Mabel A. Royds. Woodcut printed in color, 1935-38. Edition unknown. Image size 8 x 6 /12″ (203 x 165 mm).

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“Ink & Grain” to open in September

Autumn Road Santa Fe. By Norma Basset Hall. Color woodblock, 1928. Signed in pencil by the artist.

Autumn Road Santa Fe. By Norma Basset Hall. Color woodblock, 1928. Signed in pencil by the artist.

The Old Print Gallery is proud to announce its new fall print show, Ink & Grain, which will open on Friday, September 19, 2014 with a free opening night reception from 5-8pm at the gallery. Ink & Grain is a group show, highlighting 20th century printmakers who excelled in woodcuts and wood engravings. The exhibit will remain on view at the Old Print Gallery until November 15th, 2014.

One of the most ancient forms of printmaking, the woodcut was in huge decline in the 19th century, as printmakers turned to other forms of reproductive mediums. Luckily, the 20th century saw a revived and energized artistic expression for woodcuts and wood engravings. These new woodcut artists experimented heavily with technique, in ways both innovative and nuanced. Printmakers, like Werner Drewes and Barbara Latham, incorporated the grain of the woodblock directly into the composition of their prints- surrendering to its complexities while highlighting its unique, undulating patterns. Others, including Gustave Baumann, Leo Frank, Norma Bassset Hall, and Luigi Rist, experimented with new methods of ink and color application, resulting in stylized prints in a bold, modern palate, as well as softer, luminous color prints inked onto thin Japanese paper.

Sea Shell and Carlic. Luigi Rist. Color woodcut, 1947. Signed in ink on the block. Titled and inscribed "150 Edition" in pencil.

Sea Shell and Garlic. Luigi Rist. Color woodcut, 1947. Signed in ink on the block. Titled and inscribed “150 Edition” in pencil.

Wood engravings also saw a resurgence during the 20th century, especially in the form of artist’s hand-made books and commercial book illustrations. The show includes works by skilled wood engravers Clare Leighton, Lawrence N. Wilbur, and John Murphy, all who made a name for themselves as dynamic illustrators and artists.

Digging Potatoes. By Clare Leighton. Wood engraving, 1935. Signed and titled in pencil. Edition 30.

Digging Potatoes. By Clare Leighton. Wood engraving, 1935. Signed and titled in pencil. Edition 30.

Selected Artists: Gustave Baumann, Asa Cheffetz, Werner Drewes, Leo Frank, Antonio Frasconi, Eliza Draper Gardiner, Norma Bassett Hall, Barbara Latham, Clare Leighton, Alessandro Mastro-Valerio, John J. A. Murphy, Luigi Rist, Mabel Royds, Charles Svendsen, Paul Wenck, Lawrence N. Wilbur, and Adja Yunkers.

 

New Additions: Fern Prints

NEW ADDITIONS bannerNEW ADDITIONSBetween 1837 and 1914, Pteridomania, or fern madness, swept through Britain and, later, the United States. Coupled with the rise of the amateur gardener and naturalist in the nineteenth century, hundreds of books and articles encouraged a popular fascination with ferns. This resulted in widespread collection and cultivation of the plant.

Ferns are one of the oldest forms of life still thriving; fern fossils have been found dating back 360 million years, although the majority of most modern species only date back to the Cretaceous period (145 million years ago). To the Victorian populace, ferns encapsulated the mystery and majesty of another era. Lectures were given on fern history and the differences in both form and color of the  multitude of obtainable varieties for cultivation. These talks were often concluded with expert-led “fern-hunting” parties, comprised of a group of pteridomaniacs trouncing through English hills and lanes, searching for particularly rare or beautiful fern specimens.

As the craze intensified, fern patterns and motifs appeared on fabric, embroidery, cast iron, and pottery. Women wore gowns decorated with ferns, exchanged pressed ferns, and collected illustrations of ferns torn from the pages of scientific volumes. The Wardian case was invented in 1829 by a physician to protect his ferns from the air pollution of London, and soon became a staple in stylish households, along with outdoor ferneries.

Fern mania reached American shores as well, although with a little less intensity. Turn of the century greenhouse ferneries were established in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago, and other cities.

From E.J. Lowe’s Our Native Ferns; or a History of the British Species and Their Varieties. Chromolithographs, published by Groombridge and Sons, London, 1865-67. See all available E. J. Lowe fern prints here.

Plate LIX. Bleachnum Spicant (Var. Subserratum) and B. Spicant (Var. Ramosum). LINK.

Plate LIX. Bleachnum Spicant (Var. Subserratum) and B. Spicant (Var. Ramosum). LINK.

Plate LII. Scolopendrium Vulgare (Var. Submarginatum). S. Vulgare (Var. Jugosum) . LINK.

Plate LII. Scolopendrium Vulgare (Var. Submarginatum) and S. Vulgare (Var. Jugosum). LINK.

Plate LXXVI. Botrychium Lunaria and B. Lunaria (Var. Moorei). LINK.

Plate LXXVI. Botrychium Lunaria and B. Lunaria (Var. Moorei). LINK.

From Anne Pratt’s The Flowering Plants, Sedges and Ferns of Great Britain. Chromolithographs, published by Frederick Warne & Co., London, c. 1865-75. Engraved by W. Dickes. See all Anne Pratt fern prints here. 

1. Mountain Bladder Fern. (Cystopteris montana) 2. Alpine B. F. (C. alpina). LINK.

1. Mountain Bladder Fern. (Cystopteris montana) 2. Alpine B. F. (C. alpina). LINK.

Common Brake. LINK.

Common Brake. LINK.

From Daniel Cady Eaton’s Ferns of the United States of America. Chromolithographs published by Armstrong & Co. Lith., Boston, 1879. After watercolors by C. E. Faxon and J. H. Emerton. Eaton was a Yale botany professor who founded the Peabody Museum Herbarium. See all our Eaton fern prints here.

Eaton Fern Plate III. Asplenium Serratum fern. LINK.

Eaton Fern Plate III. Asplenium Serratum. LINK.

Eaton Fern Plate LII. A Woodwardia Virginica fern. LINK.

Eaton Fern Plate LII. Woodwardia Virginica. LINK.

Eaton Fern Plate LXVII. Aspidium Floridanum. LINK.

Eaton Fern Plate LXVII. Aspidium Floridanum. LINK.

Eaton Fern Plate LXII. Aspidium Aculeatum. LINK.

Eaton Fern Plate LXII. Aspidium Aculeatum. LINK.

Eaton Fern Plate LXXI. LINK.

Eaton Fern Plate LXXI. Woodsia Oregana. Woodsia Scopulina. Woodsia Obtusa. LINK.

 

Ballooning Prints

Ascensions Aerostatiques Les Plus Remarquables. : Resume Historique de L'Aerostation. Published a Paris chez Barthelemier Freres, Rue Hautefeuille, 22 et 30. Engraving handcolored, 1851.  Print lists 81 balloon flights starting with 1638 although the official first ascension was in 1783.  A great history of balloon flight, with successful and tragic flights. Image size 18 11/16 x 26 7/16" (47.4 x 67.1 cm). LINK.

Ascensions Aerostatiques Les Plus Remarquables. : Resume Historique de L’Aerostation. Published a Paris chez Barthelemier Freres, Rue Hautefeuille, 22 et 30. Engraving handcolored, 1851. Print lists 81 balloon flights starting with 1638 although the official first ascension was in 1783. A great history of balloon flight, with successful and tragic flights. Image size 18 11/16 x 26 7/16″ (47.4 x 67.1 cm).

Of all the experimental and intellectual developments in the 18th century, none captivated both scientists and the general public more than balloon travel. Ballooning played an important part in early aeronautical development,  the limitless expanse of sky beckoning scientists with hopes of exploration, excitement, and inexhaustible possibility. The first trepidatious voyages were described in eager and precise detail, and often included maps and diagrams of scientific observations. Early etchings and engravings were also made to capture the discoveries and milestones made by the scientists, explorers, and daredevils who braved the air. Below are several of our ballooning prints, selected from both our Georgetown and New York galleries. Be sure to click on the links to see more for our inventory.

Details Geometriques de la Machine Aerostatique... Monsieur Jos. Montgolfier, le 19 June 1784. A Lyon chez Joubert fils, Graveur et Md. D'Estampes, G de rue Merciere. Etching, 1784. LINK.

Details Geometriques de la Machine Aerostatique… Monsieur Jos. Montgolfier, le 19 June 1784. A Lyon chez Joubert fils, Graveur et Md. D’Estampes, G de rue Merciere. Etching, 1784.

The first clearly recorded instance of a balloon carrying (human) passengers was built by the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, France. These brothers came from a family of paper manufacturers and had noticed ash rising in paper fires, which led to their experiments with balloon travel. The Montgolfier brothers gave their first public demonstration of their invention on June 4, 1783. They stood on a circular platform attached to the bottom of the balloon and  hand-fed the fire through openings on either side of the balloon’s skirt. The balloon reached an altitude of at least 500 feet and traveled about 5½ miles before landing safely 25 minutes later.  Later that year, scientists Jacques Alexander Charles and Nicholas Louis Robert created the first gas-balloon, utilizing hydrogen to keep the balloon and basket afloat for a significantly longer period of time.  Within the next ten years, numerous daredevils risked the skies with the help of silk balloons, wicker baskets, and new concoctions of gas and flame.

By 1785, the first successful crossing of the English Channel was accomplished by French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries, using a gas balloon. They started in Dover, but once they were positioned over the water, the balloon lost altitude. The pair feverishly tossed all items from the basket, including their clothes. They landed safely in France two hours later, in nothing but their underwear.

Mr. Vincent Lunardi Esquire. Stipple engraving, 1784. Oval size 4 3/4 x 4 " ( 122 x 102 mm). LINK.

Mr. Vincent Lunardi Esquire. Stipple engraving, 1784. Oval size 4 3/4 x 4 ” ( 122 x 102 mm).

Most of early balloon flight and exploration occurred in France, with backing provided by the Académie Royale des Sciences. England was slow to catch on to the ballooning phenomenon. The first manned balloon flight in England was by Signor Vincent Lunardi, an Italian, who ascended from Moorfields on September 15, 1784. His gas balloon was outfitted with wooden oars, with the intended purpose of directional control. Fueled by the fervor surrounding Lunardi’s first flight in London, ballooning finally became a veritable craze in England. Aeronauts became the some of the most talked about celebrities of the day, and tales of their exploits and adventures swept across Britain creating a national mania for the sport. Whereas ballooning had been popular on the Continent since Pilatre and Rozier’s first flight in a “Montgolfiere”, it was not until Lunardi’s daring flight that it gained popularity in England.

Exact Representation of the Grand Aerostatick Machine with which Mr. Lunardi ascended from the Artillery Ground Sep. 15 1784. Published by W. Wells, Sep. 28 1784, at No. 132, Fleet Street. Etching, handcolored,1784. Image size 12 x 8 3/4" (305 x 224 mm). LINK.

Exact Representation of the Grand Aerostatick Machine with which Mr. Lunardi ascended from the Artillery Ground Sep. 15 1784. Published by W. Wells, Sep. 28 1784, at No. 132, Fleet Street. Etching, handcolored,1784. Image size 12 x 8 3/4″ (305 x 224 mm).

James Sadler Esq. First English Aeronaut. By Benjamin Taylor. Published by B. Taylor, No. 7 Brewer St. Golden Sq., London. Stipple engraving, 1812. 5 1/2 x 6 1/4" (140 x 160 mm) plus title and margins. LINK.

James Sadler Esq. First English Aeronaut. By Benjamin Taylor. Published by B. Taylor, No. 7 Brewer St. Golden Sq., London. Stipple engraving, 1812. 5 1/2 x 6 1/4″ (140 x 160 mm) plus title and margins.

Nicknamed the “King of the Balloon”, James Sadler was considered the first English aeronaut. He made his first balloon ascent in 1784, the same years as Lunardi’s famous flight, flying from Oxford to the village of Woodeaton, six miles away. On October 7, 1811, he set a balloon speed record when he flew from Birmingham to Boston, Lincolnshire, in less than four hours. In 1812, he attempted to cross the Irish Sea, but failed, landing in the ocean near Anglesey where he was rescued by a passing fishing boat. Sadler is remembered as one of the pioneers of aeronautical exploration in Britain and his daring flights helped make ballooning a national pastime.

A view of the Balloon of Mr. Sadler's. : This Balloon Ascended with Mr. Sadler and Captain Paget of the Royal Navy : from the Mermaid Gardens at Hackney in Middlesex at three O'clock on Monday afternoon August the 12th 1811 and descended in a field. Engraving, c.1811. Image size 16 15/16 x 13 7/8" (415 x 354 mm). LINK.

A view of the Balloon of Mr. Sadler’s. : This Balloon Ascended with Mr. Sadler and Captain Paget of the Royal Navy : from the Mermaid Gardens at Hackney in Middlesex at three O’clock on Monday afternoon August the 12th 1811 and descended in a field. Engraving, c.1811. Image size 16 15/16 x 13 7/8″ (415 x 354 mm).

Part of the Balloon with which Mr. Sadler ascended from Dublin, Octr. 1, 1812. : passed over upwards 237 Miles by Water, and 40 by Land, and descended at Sea. Robert Havell, Jr. Aquatint and engraving handcolored, undated, c.1812. Image size 13 1/4 x 9 1/8" (337 x 230 mm).LINK.

Part of the Balloon with which Mr. Sadler ascended from Dublin, Octr. 1, 1812. : passed over upwards 237 Miles by Water, and 40 by Land, and descended at Sea. By Robert Havell, Jr. Aquatint and engraving handcolored, undated, c.1812. Image size 13 1/4 x 9 1/8″ (337 x 230 mm).

Charles Green was another celebrated English aeronaut, He was the first person to undertake an ascent in a balloon filled with carbureted hydrogen gas. Green made 526 ascents during the course of his daring career, many of which tested the boundaries of aeronautical aviation. An eccentric at heart, Green made an ascent off the back of his pony, a feat which won him a reputation as daredevil. He constructed the great Nassau balloon, in which he made his famous ascent from Vauxhall Gardens. In 1821, Green was the first aeronaut to demonstrate that coal-gas could be used to inflate balloons. Prior to this discovery, volatile hydrogen gas had been used which was extremely expensive and took up to two days to inflate a large balloon. Green also invented the guide-rope, which was used to regulate the ascent and descent of the balloon.

Mr. Charles Green, The Aeronaut. By John Hollins. Published by Hodgson & Graves, London. Mezzotint, 1838. Engraved by  G. T. Payne. 15 9/16 x 12 1/2" (395 x 317 mm) plus title and wide margins. LINK.

Mr. Charles Green, The Aeronaut. By John Hollins. Published by Hodgson & Graves, London. Mezzotint, 1838. Engraved by G. T. Payne. 15 9/16 x 12 1/2″ (395 x 317 mm) plus title and wide margins.

Ballooning became a significant part of popular culture. Spectators would gather to watch the balloons take off and land. Fashion houses drew inspiration from the lauded air explorers. The wealthy that could afford such luxuries would take trips in balloons. Once made maneuverable, balloons were even used by militaries. The first military use of a balloon occurred during the Battle of Fleures in 1784. The balloon L’Entrprenant was used by French Aerostatic Corps to watch the movements of the Coalition Army.

Ascensions Aerostatiques Les Plus Remarquables. : Resume Historique de L'Aerostation. Published a Paris chez Barthelemier Freres, Rue Hautefeuille, 22 et 30. Engraving handcolored, 1851.  Print lists 81 balloon flights starting with 1638 although the official first ascension was in 1783.  A great history of balloon flight, with successful and tragic flights. Image size 18 11/16 x 26 7/16" (47.4 x 67.1 cm). LINK.

Ascensions Aerostatiques Les Plus Remarquables. : Resume Historique de L’Aerostation. Published a Paris chez Barthelemier Freres, Rue Hautefeuille, 22 et 30. Engraving handcolored, 1851. Print lists 81 balloon flights starting with 1638 although the official first ascension was in 1783. A great history of balloon flight, with successful and tragic flights. Image size 18 11/16 x 26 7/16″ (47.4 x 67.1 cm).

The Ascension of Mr, and Mrs, Graham, in the Great Magnificent Balloon. Engraving, 1824. Printed below the image states "Mr. Graham, having announced that he would ascend yesterday from White Conduit House, Pentonville, in part for the benefit of the widow of the late unfortunate Mr. Harris, immense crowds occupied all the grounds in the vicinity at an early hour, and the Garden itself was filled with large numbers of paying visitors." Image size 13 1/4 x 8 1/2" (337 x 217 mm). LINK.

The Ascension of Mr, and Mrs, Graham, in the Great Magnificent Balloon. Engraving, 1824. Printed below the image states “Mr. Graham, having announced that he would ascend yesterday from White Conduit House, Pentonville, in part for the benefit of the widow of the late unfortunate Mr. Harris, immense crowds occupied all the grounds in the vicinity at an early hour, and the Garden itself was filled with large numbers of paying visitors.” Image size 13 1/4 x 8 1/2″ (337 x 217 mm).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bataille de Fleurus (26 Juin 1794). Engraving, hand-colored. c.1830. Pellerin & Co., imp-edit. Imagerie D'Epinal No.178.   Image depicts the French military with a balloon tethered in the backgrounds. Image size 7 7/8 x 12 15/16" (200 x 328 mm). LINK.

Bataille de Fleurus (26 Juin 1794). Engraving, hand-colored. c.1830. Pellerin & Co., imp-edit. Imagerie D’Epinal No.178. Image depicts the French military with a balloon tethered in the backgrounds. Image size 7 7/8 x 12 15/16″ (200 x 328 mm).