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Baxter’s Sale Poster at Onslow Lecture Hall, Brompton - February 14th – 25th 1863
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1-3) The full advertising poster for the Brompton sale along with two close ups 4-5) Two examples of the rare sepia prints, in this case, The Massacre of the Rev Williams at Erromanga and The Reception of the Rev J Williams at Tanna 6) Baxter Large First Impressions 7 & 8) Read the article to the bottom and you will find out!

In my article reviewing Baxter’s travelling sales in the early 1860’s (link 1 at the foot of this article) one sale was advertised as being held at Onslow Lecture Hall, Queen’s Elm, Fulham Road, Brompton from February 14th to 25th 1863. I have been lucky enough to obtain images of an advertising poster for this sale that is possibly the only currently known example of one of these rare pieces of ephemera and I thank Brian Lawrence for allowing me to take images and use them in this article.

Detail of a poster is included in Courtney Lewis’s The Picture Printer 1924 (p 544) for another such sale at Royal Albert Rooms, College Green in Bristol held nearly two years earlier May 17th – 29th 1861, unfortunately that poster’s current location is unknown.

As can be seen from the images, the poster lists 200 Lots, strangely the Brompton Lots are incredibly similar to the earlier Bristol Lots. That can’t be coincidental and we must assume that the format for all these travelling sales was, most probably, very similar.

When comparing the two lists some differences are very minor, for example:
Lot 33 has The Dogs of St Bernard at Brompton and The Wreck at Bristol, however Lot 45 is exactly the reverse

Lot 26 has Empress of the French + 5 others at Brompton and Prince of Wales and 5 others at Bristol. Perhaps it was the same prints with a different ‘headlining’ print.

Lot 7 has Prince of Wales + 5 others at Brompton and Princess Royal + 3 others at Bristol, again perhaps just a different headlining print and they felt the later sale needed a couple more prints to bolster the appeal.

Similar can be said for Lots 71, 75, 115 and 186.
There are most probably about three other Lots with insignificant differences but, as I mentioned, basically the two posters are very similar.

One aspect is a bit more interesting, a number of prints are being offered in sepia. In both sales for example we find:

Lot 74 – ‘Portraits of the Missionaries Williams and Moffat (in sepia)’

Lots 69 and 99 both ‘Coronation of Queen Victoria (in sepia)’

Lot 70 - Her Majesty Opening Parliament and Lot 102 – Landing of the missionaries in New Zealand are both marked as ‘in sepia’ in the early Bristol sale but strangely not specifically marked as such at Brompton.

Lots 105, 120 and 151 in both sales, ‘Lamented Missionary Williams at Erromanga’ (CL 76?), ‘The Lamented Williams at Tanna and Erromanga’ (82A & 82B) and ‘Baptism in Jamaica’ (CL 93) respectively were not marked as being in sepia but I think these were. The only examples of any of these three prints in the 1860 Southgate and Barrett auction (link 2 at the foot of this article) were Lots 201 (and the following 5 Lots), 327 (and the following 5 Lots) and 799 (and the following 3 Lots). All are described as Reception and Massacre of Williams with the description “have been some years out of print. The few copies discovered in stock are included in this sale”.

None of the nine prints had been printed in colour for many years, perhaps since 1846, and none of the plates appeared in the 1860 auction of Baxter plates. All the plates in that auction came with a full set of colour blocks. Yet we know that seven of the nine, I have no specific knowledge regards the plates for the portraits of Williams and Moffat, are listed in either Baxter’s 1865 unrecorded auction of his plates (to be written about soon) or re-printed from in Mockler’s 1893 portfolio of Baxter plates that he had acquired from Le Blond (link 3 at the foot of this article). Hence Baxter must have still have had these plates during this period but, most probably, without any the colour blocks. Interestingly the 1865 auction mentions 200 plates with only 100 colour blocks.

I can’t find any mention of sepia prints, other than Baxterotypes, in any of Baxter’s contemporary adverts or in his 1860 Southgate and Barrett auction or in Baxter’s 1864 republication list. These nine are also the majority of all the known prints of this type produced in sepia (as ell as in colour) that aren’t Baxterotypes.

Courtney Lewis gives dates for some of these sepia versions as 1855 but I think this was based on the fact that he felt they must have been produced at around the same time as the Baxterotypes.

I think that all the sepia prints we know of come exclusively from the period of these sales, some are clearly marked ‘in sepia ‘in at least one of the sale listings but I feel others that weren’t marked, the Lots 105, 120 and 151, mentioned above, were also in sepia as again they also hadn’t been printed from for many years. I can’t see any copies offered for sale in the 1860 auction and it is very unlikely they had any, at least useable, colours blocks, otherwise, if they did have any, they would have been included, along with the plate, in his 1860 auction.

Printing pulls from the plate in sepia, with possibly the addition of one overall colour block, of what are some of Baxter’s most important and larger prints would be quite a simple task for his now reduced workforce yet would greatly enhance his daily sales.

I illustrate two examples above (Figs 4 & 5), The Massacre of The Rev Williams at Erromanga and The Reception of Rev J Williams at Tanna, these rare sepia prints shouldn't be confused with Mockler's pulls from the plates, also in sepia, that he took in 1893. His examples are always on dimpled, 'orange peel' type paper

Another interesting item worth mentioning is ‘The First Impressions’ (Fig 6). Baxter published two versions of this print, a small version (CL 158) in 1850 and a larger version (CL 159) which Courtney Lewis states wasn’t published until 1864. This is most probably because no adverts appeared for this print prior to Baxter’s retirement in 1860. It wasn’t listed among the 100,000 + prints in the 1860 Southgate and Barrett retirement sale and is first mentioned in the 1864 republication list. Lots 2631 and 2926 in the 1860 sale were described a ‘First impression and others’ but as these Lots had 342 and 142 prints in them respectively, large quantities of prints even for this auction, they must have been the 1850 small First Impression not the large version which, if it had been published by then, wouldn’t have been included in such a general lot.

It didn’t appear in the 1861 Bristol poster BUT it is listed as Lots 14 and 73 in the Feb 1863 Brompton poster. Having its own listing must mean it is the larger version, the smaller version if included in that sale would have most probably been included under ‘and others’ as it is not important enough to command its own separate Lot. This means this print would have been first published sometime between May 1861 and Feb 1863 and not 1864 as previously thought.

Looking at this poster I calculate that each auction had a total of about 617 prints. I have found about 250 sales days between June 1860 and August 1863 and as most sales throughout the period had two auctions a day that makes it approximately 500 auctions. Assuming all prints would sell, which of course they wouldn’t, that would make it that Baxter would have sold over 300,000 prints during this period.

The 1860 auction stated that it had upwards of 100,000 prints available (of which approx. 50% sold) and most of the adverts placed over the 1860 – 63 period stated they were selling 100,000 prints and in a couple of later cases, 300,000 prints therefore Baxter must have still been printing during this period not just selling his remaining stock.

Perhaps he had to print the best sellers to balance the large stocks of other prints he already had, although by then he must have been running a stripped down business having disposed of No 11 Northampton Square. This would explain how during this period the odd new print like First Impressions and the sepia versions of the early prints would have come about.

Lastly an intriguing mention on both posters is Lot 60 described as ‘The Boy and the Broken Drum and 3 others. So what was this print, some unrecorded print only just discovered? Unfortunately not, can you work it out?

Scroll down to find out the answer…

It must have been Baxter’s ‘The Unhappy Child’ (CL 178) sold singularly and also the central statue in his ‘Gems of the Exhibition No 2’ (CL167). When you look closely you can obviously see an unhappy child but when you look even closer the reason for his sadness is his broken drum – see Fig 7 & 8 above.

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