Baxter’s earliest known work on his own account?
Click on images to show an enlargement in a new window
1) The full page for the issue for 12th January 1828 2) a close up 3) bottom right hand corner signed Baxter Sc i.e. drawn by
In 1824, when George Baxter was just 20, his father published ‘Baxter’s Stranger in Brighton’ containing a frontispiece of Brighton Chain Pier, which stated ‘drawn by G Baxter’. This is the earliest work we have found credited to George Baxter, it was also sold separately as an enlarged version and again made the same statement. This enlarged print was advertised in the 1826, possibly also in the 1824, edition of that book and can be read about in detail by following Link 1 below.
In the same year a number of engravings ‘sketched by G Baxter’ and a couple of lithographs i.e. drawn onto stone, appeared in Rev Horsfield’s ‘History of Lewes’ again published by his father.
By 1826 Baxter is now supplying woodcuts to that year’s edition of ‘Stranger in Brighton’ and the following year more woodcuts for ‘Baxter’s Select Sketches in Brighton’, an advert in the back of the latter book states ‘George Baxter – Designer and Engraver in Wood’. That same year also brings more woodcuts for the second volume of ‘History of Lewes’.
As you can see, unsurprisingly all of Baxter’s early work between 1824 and 1827 was for his father’s publications, there may be other early work but perhaps not credited to him.
In Baxter Colour Prints by H G Clarke (1919) the author reproduces two woodcuts of printing presses signed Baxter Sc (meaning engraved by) most probably commissioned by his father-in-law Robert Harrild for ‘Catalogue and advertising purposes’ which is what the author states for two other Baxter woodcuts of Harrild’s own presses in the same book. It is not known when or how these four woodcuts were eventually used but they must have been early in his career. One of these woodcuts shows an address of 29 King Square so dates that example to 1829 or after.
So what was Baxter’s first work outside his father’s publications? I recently came across what might be the answer to that question in ‘The Mirror’, not the tabloid London newspaper of today but ‘The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction’, of January 12 1828, a small, in this case, 32 page publication covering interesting news and features of the day.
On the front page of that week’s issue was a basic but pleasing woodcut of the ‘New Post Office London’ and in the bottom right hand corner is engraved ‘Baxter Sc’. Unfortunately there is no address, not surprising for most woodcuts, which is a shame as an address would have been very helpful to 100% confirm Baxter’s address around that time, just after his marriage in Aug 1827.
The article that follows the woodcut describes the new building in St Martin’s Le Grand London as ‘being now almost completed’.
I, perhaps like many others, tend to think of Baxter as a Victorian printer but this is not a Victorian, but of course, Georgian newspaper, dating to the reign of George IV. It would be another 7 years and another king, William IV, who granted George Baxter his patent, before Queen Victorian became monarch and the Victorian era began.
An interesting example of Baxter’s early work and quite possibly the first away from his father’s business but as it has taken 194 years to discover this item perhaps there is another, earlier, example still to be found?
I currently have two examples of this for sale, a complete edition for 12th January 1828 (see Link 2) and also a bound volume of 6 months worth of editions including this issue (see Link 3). If they have been sold and you would like a copy please contact me as I might have others in stock but not yet listed.