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George Baxter's Advertising Posters 1860 - 1861
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1) An advertising poster from the Mechanics Hall Sheffield December 1860 2) The same for Royal Albert Rooms Bristol May 1861

After Baxter tried to retire in 1860 he held an auction of all his plates and blocks along with a vast stock of prints (Link 1 below). It wasn’t a success and obviously still left him with a stock of thousands of prints. He then turned to selling his prints via travelling sales in various cities around the UK (Link 2 below).

These sales would last 3-7 days and in one case, at the Mechanics Lecture Hall Sheffield in December 1860, 29 days. Each sale seemed to follow a similar pattern, initially open to view, billed by Baxter as an exhibition, with auction sales once or twice a day. For each sale a poster must have been created advising potential purchasers of the details of the Lots that were available. An example, in fact the only known one, of these posters was for the sale at Brompton in February 1863 (Link 3 below).

We know Baxter advertised these sales extensively in the newspapers of the day but we also know Baxter placed posters in people’s windows and perhaps on the doors of the venues advertising these sales. They seem to take the form a full Baxter print with the some of the text cut from the Brompton type sale poster and stuck on to the card above or below the print. How many of these advertising posters he used, or indeed, at how many of the sales, we do not know.

These advertising posters are as rare as the sale posters. In The Baxter Times for June 1923 there is an article ‘Baxter’s association with Sheffield’. In it a collector of the day, Mr C E Parkinson, talks about how his father had met Baxter when Baxter was in Sheffield looking for a venue for the December 1860 sale mentioned above. Mr Parkinson went on to relate that when Baxter was in Sheffield for the actual sale he asked his father to place an advertising posters in his window “as a particular favour to him”. The poster was a copy of Lovers Letter Box with the text from, presumably, one of the sale posters for that sale stuck across the top. Afterwards his father retained the poster and a photograph of it was shown in the magazine. An image of this from the Baxter Times can be seen above.

I also have one of these posters, this time it is Hollyhocks and above the print is the wording “Exhibition of Baxter’s Oil Pictures – Admission Free” and below “Royal Albert Rooms College Green – Exhibition opens at 11 O’clock”. Partially trimmed, along the bottom it states “Afternoon sale at three – Evening at half past six”. We know that Baxter exhibited and then held a series of auctions at the Royal Albert Rooms in Bristol between 17th and 29th May 1861. As I mentioned the Brompton sale poster is the only physical example we know of but Courtney Lewis did write about another example in his 1924 “Picture printer” and coincidentally it was this Bristol sale.

My copy has been over mounted and is not in the best of condition but still a fascinating and unusual piece of ephemera from this period in Baxter’s life.

I have an extensive collection of old auction catalogues and in the past I have noted some items of specific interest, some from the 1920’s / 30’s are relevant. “Gardeners Shed as a Baxter advertisement”, “Summer Large Baxter advertisement for sale at Sheffield” (so the December 1860 sale), “Baxter Advertisement with Gardeners Shed Calton Convening Rooms” (so the December 1861 sale) and again “Gardeners Shed Baxter advertisement for Town Hall Ryde Isle of Wight” which makes this particular item even more interesting as, to date, I hadn’t heard of any sale in Ryde.

As an aside, we know very little about Baxter’s personal relationships outside of his family but in the article, referred to above, Mr Parkinson says that after his father had met Baxter on his initial trip to Sheffield they went together to see Jenny Lind perform at the Old Music Hall in the town, “her star piece being the Swedish Echo Song”.

Sandra Sullivan has provided some information regarding Jenny Lind’s performances in Sheffield for which I thank her. Initially she was meant to perform on 18th September 1847 but this was cancelled. She did perform on the 8th March 1849 which was noted elsewhere as her first performance in Sheffield. The only other performance found was for March 27th 1862 when Jenny Lind performed at the Music Hall Sheffield and featured her Echo song that Mr Parkinson mentions. Was this the date that George Baxter along with his friend Mr Parkinson went together to see her perform? 99% sure it must have been. Was Baxter in Sheffield at the time? No he wasn't but that date does straddle dates when we know Baxter had sales in York about 60 miles away. In the 1860’s rail travel averaged speeds of between 40-65 mph so York to Sheffield wouldn’t have taken Baxter much more than an hour to make the event. This little snippet of information also helps us, as good as, confirm Baxter would have also attended at least some of the dates of his York Sales.

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