Some time ago a friend gave me a photocopy of a very unusual item – A invoice given by George Baxter on the 24th March 1843 to James Alsop Esq of Leek.
The invoice 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 invoice. We can safely assume that this invoice 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, as the invoice is dated 8 days prior to the prints official publication on 1st April. Courtney Lewis quotes the original published prices for each print as “to subscribers 10s. 6d., proofs 15s. and to non-subscribers 12s. proofs £1 1s.”
So although Alsop was ordering these prints prior to their official publication he was paying the non-subscribers price. From my understanding subscribers were people who ordered their prints in advance of them even being prepared. In the case of the Abolition of Slavery the required number of 150 subscribers was not reached and the print never got past the initial sketching stage.
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