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Brighton Chain Pier – Baxter’s first published work?
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1) An image of the frontispiece to Baxter's Stranger in Brighton 1824 as illustrated in Courtney Lewis's The Picture Printer in 1924 2) The enlarged version 3) The enlarged version against my size guide to give you a better feeling of scale 4) A close up of the text beneath the print 5) The title page to 'Stranger in Brighton' for 1826 published by Baxter's father John Baxter including a woodcut of another view of Brighton Chain Pier by George Baxter

Baxter’s father published ‘Baxter’s Stranger in Brighton’ a guide for the fashionable Georgian visitor to the town in 1822, 1824 and 1826.

Courtney Lewis in 1924 writes about an aquatint, drawn by G Baxter as the frontispiece to the 1824 edition of this guide and illustrated at the back of his book, please see image 1) above. This must have been a highlight of the town as the bridge had only recently opened on 25th November 1823.

In the same year other prints ‘sketched by G Baxter’ and a couple of lithographs i.e. drawn onto stone, signed ‘G Baxter Lithog’ appeared in Rev Horsfield’s ‘History of Lewes’, but which were published first?
The very bottom of the last page of ‘History of Lewes’ gives us the answer. The last page is an advert for John Baxter, George’s father and publisher of both books and the last few lines read “Recently published, the second edition of Baxter’s Stranger in Brighton”. So ‘Stranger in Brighton’ was published first and hence Brighton Chain Pier must be the earliest work, that we know of at this stage, accredited to George Baxter.

All copies of the ‘Stranger in Brighton’ are scarce and I have only seen one copy of the 1824 frontispiece at, I believe, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London but I have recently acquired a larger version of this print. I can’t remember the exact size of the smaller version but assuming the 1824 edition of the book is the same size as my 1826 version the full page must be approximately 18 cm x 11.5. This larger version is 23.2 cm x 15.8 cm to the outside of the actual design with text under the print that reads:

Drawn by G Baxter
View of the Brighton Chain Pier, & C
from the outer Platform, which is most respectfully dedicated to the Pier Company
by their obedient Servant John Baxter 1824
Publisher of the Stranger in Brighton & Directory

There is no reason to think this larger version wasn’t published at roughly the same time as the smaller version in the book as it is also dated 1824. Anyone with a copy of that year’s book might find an advertisement for this in there. In the following 1826 edition, not surprisingly, the Chain Pier is listed there as a key feature of the town and given a detailed description. At the bottom of the page is noted “A view on a larger scale, is published by J Baxter, and may be had at any of the libraries”, so this must be an early form of tourist souvenir?

My copy of this larger version is not in great condition being quite heavily toned but I illustrate it here as an example of the first published work of George Baxter a print taken from a drawing by him of Brighton Chain Pier.

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