Last year a friend gave me a photocopy of a very unusual item – A receipt given by George Baxter on the 24th March 1843 to James Alsop Esq of Leek. The receipt is for “1 pair prints in Oil Colours – (Williams & Moffat)” at £1 1s and 1 pair of gold frames at the same price.
Interesting to see that Baxter describes himself as ‘inventor & Patentee of Oil Colour printing’ even on his receipts. We can safely assume that the receipt including the crest would have been printed in his own workshops – so technically a monochrome Baxter print in its own right? – Steel or wood engraving? We can’t tell from the photocopy but I feel the detail, especially of the crest could only have been gained from an engraving in metal.
Alsop was obviously a ‘subscriber’ to Baxter’s new works, the invoice being dated 8 days prior to the prints official publication on 1st April. Courtney Lewis quotes the prices for each print as 10s 6d - proofs 15s for subscribers and 12s - proofs £1 1s for non-subscribers which corresponds to Alsop’s receipt.
At the foot of the receipt is written in a different hand, presumably Mr Alsop, the purchaser – “6th Apr sent a post office order (204) for £4 4s…” presumably he had purchased other items on another receipt?
Was this receipt written by Baxter himself? I think very unlikely as we know that Baxter hated working ‘front of shop’ during his days with his father in Lewes so I doubt he would have written such a lowly thing as a receipt but it turns out that Mr Alsop could have been an important client. He was a Silk Manufacturer that had moved to Leek in Staffordshire in 1841. In later years he became a magistrate and did much to improve the town.
It is unusual to find such a rare piece of ephemera, even if it is only a photocopy, and even stranger to be able to identify the actual buyer.
Above James Alsop - image courtesy of https://www.search.staffspasttrack.org.uk/Details.aspx?&ResourceID=29603&PageIndex=3&SearchType=2&ThemeID=485