Baxter’s Agent in America

David Davidson advertising in Norton's Literary Advertiser 15th February 1854 including a closer view of the top and bottom halves

Following on from my ‘chat on’ – Baxter’s Agents in Germany (link at the foot) I now write about Baxter’s agent in USA. Unlike the result of the German article whereas the obvious conclusion was that although George Baxter’s prints were very popular and highly in demand in Germany none of the names associated with them appear to be official agents. With Baxter’s agent in America the answer is the opposite. The agent’s name is David Davidson, a well known publisher and importer of books and other goods, his main operating address was 109 Nassau Street New York.

So how do we know that he was definitely Baxter’s official agent? In the “Official Catalogue of the New York Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations New York 1853” it lists the exhibitors and under the Fine Arts Class 31 we find:

74: Specimens of Geo. Baxter’s (London) Oil Prints – David Davidson, agent 109 Nassau Street, New York City

In “A day in the New York Crystal Palace” of the same year, page 49 states “Advancing at this point, into Court 7, the visitor will find, facing him, a very attractive display of oil prints by the patented process of Baxter of London and nearby is a small tableau exhibited by Davidson, the New York Agent”

From our research into the Davidson company we find him advertising “American Books Shipped to the UK” in the Literary Advertiser 11th January 1850 from an office in London at Alpine Chambers, 13 Paternoster Row. Perhaps it was during this period that Davidson first became aware of Baxter prints or was it from the Great Exhibition in London soon after?

The New York exhibition, spurred on by the success of London exhibition, opened on 14th July 1853 and ran right through to 14th November 1854, considerably longer than the original one in London.

I have a number of adverts in American newspapers where Davidson is advertising Baxter’s prints but the earliest date I can find is February 1853 “Baxter’s Oil Pictures for Drawing Rooms, Albums etc. imported and for sale by David Davidson 109 Nassau Street NY and all good booksellers throughout the states”. The following month we find him advertising Le Blond’s Patent Oil Prints (that would have annoyed Baxter, if he saw it) and interestingly Bradshaw’s Railway and steamship guides as by August 1853 Davidson now has a full advert headlining with Bradshaw’s Splendid Oil Coloured Prints (by Baxter’s Patent Process) imported and for sale by...

In October 1853 he is running a full page advert of Baxter, Le Blond and Bradshaw Prints. This advert now states under Le Blond’s Patent Print – printed in colors similar to Baxter’s patent Process.... (that would have annoyed Baxter even more). In February 1855 an advert now adds “W Dickes & Co Oil prints” to the list and “Le Blond’s Patent Oil Prints – in Oil colours by Baxter’s Patent Process....“ (presumably Baxter had now complained). They were now also advertising “Vincent Brooks Masterpieces of Chromatic Art” and “George Rowneys & Co Typo-Chromatic Printing, facsimiles of water colour drawings”. The last Baxter related advert I can find is in March 1855 where Kronheim prints are also now available.

We find Davidson at 49 Walker Street NY in 1859 and in 1863 there is an advert stating D F Lawler Successor to David Davison at 441 Broadway NY but no mention of Baxter prints after the 1855 advert.

The most informative of the adverts comes from Norton’s Literary Gazette for 15th February 1854 and is illustrated here. Some interesting information including a list of Le Blond prints which state Le Blonds official (?) titles, note how they differ from the ‘fancy’ names given to them by Courtney Lewis in 1908. All the prints showing from No.33 onwards were not in the Le Blond listing in the March 1853 advert, including the first of his ovals, so making this list a very good indication of when these were first printed, which, up until now, has been generally unconfirmed.
So Davidson was definitely Baxter’s agent even if it was for only a couple of years. David Davidson obviously took more than just a passing interest in the Baxter Patent Process, more is to be written.