Baxter's 'Agents' in Germany
Many years ago I purchased from eBay a copy of a Baxter’s Grand Entrance to the Great Exhibition on a Red Seal Mount in a very toned and faded condition. The reason for the purchase? On the mount on the opposite side of Baxter's RSM was another similar seal, the foxing and general toning of the mount made it hard to read but I could just about make out the words Baxter's and Joh. Heinrigs in Coln and wording that appeared to be Oe*ltar***bilder, something later I ascertained is German for Oil Colour Pictures. I have since had this cleaned and shown opposite.
Grand Entrance to the Great Exhibition with Baxter's standard Red Seal Mount to the left hand side and the very usual complementary seal of Joh.Heinrigs to the right hand cormer
A close up of Heinrigs 'seal'
Oil Colour Pictures
I did some research and found out that someone by the name of Werner Neite had written an article in a German Magazine in 1993 – “The English Colour Printer George Baxter and its Cologne Agent”. I couldn't locate a copy but when I started my 'Can you help?' section on the website it seemed a perfect subject to include. Within a few months I was talking to Burghard Neite, Werner’s son. Burghard has been pivotal in making it possible for me to write this article as initially he directed me to the right magazine, which I was very excited to be able to purchase on a German book dealers website but my excitement at the purchase was equalled by the disappointment on delivery as (why didn't I think of it but...) it was all in German and I couldn’t understand a word of what was written!
Not only did Burghard translate the important parts for me, even, he said, translating some of the old German (original adverts) was very hard, but he also sent me copies of contemporary advertisements from the German press as well as some perfect examples of Baxter’s prints with the Cologne agents red seal stamp, presumably belonging to his father.
Watermill on the Wye on Baxter standard Red Seal Mount but with Heinrigs seal added to the right hand corner
Baxter never issued any needle box prints on any form of mount but here Heinrigs mimics Baxter's mount with his only seal bottom right
In 1814 Cologne had come under the rule of the Kingdom of Prussia which eventually merged to become Germany in 1918. During the period being discussed Prussia would have been closely, and presumably fondly, linked with England. The King of Prussia had attended the Baptism of the Prince of Wales in 1842. Princess Victoria, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, married Prince Fredrick of Prussia in 1858 (prints of both were published by Baxter in that year) after meeting him when his family were invited by Queen Victoria to attend the Great Exhibition when she was just 11 years old. In this article I refer to Cologne being in Germany but, of course at the time it would have officially been Prussia.
The first reference we can find of Baxter’s work in Germany was in 1835 when Johann Heinrich Meyer, owner of the “Journal fur Buchdruckerfunst, Schriftgieberei” (Journal for Letterpress Printing) wrote ”G Baxter Colour print – Mr G Baxter wood cutter of King Square Goswell Road has invented, as Dr Thomson writes in his records of General Science, such a perfect colour print that to all those interested in the art of printing and namely scientists should be given notice to it.” In July 1837 a three page article was in the same Journal regarding Baxter’s new book The Cabinet of Paintings which went into great detail about his process (most probably taken from the book itself) with descriptions of his prints. Other articles can be found in 1840 and again 1851, possibly sourced from articles in London’s newspapers as I can see within one article of 1851 the name of Leighton and I am told the article is a disagreement between the two printers, a similar article having appeared in the London Art Journal the same year. The Cabinet of Paintings was most probably the first of Baxter’s works to be available in Germany – Rudolf Weigel’s Kinstlager-Catalog, Leipzig (about 300 miles West of Cologne) offered it in 1838 for 9 Taler.
The name on my sealed mount and the main name in this story is Joh. Heinrigs. They were book and music publishers that had been trading in Germany for many years. Johann Heinrigs had visited London in 1814 meeting engravers and the company exhibited Calligraphy at the Great Exhibition which ran from May to October 1851. By then Gerhard Heinrigs was now running the company, did he or his father actually attend the exhibition? Did they meet George Baxter?
By Nov 1851 they can be found advertising in a Cologne newspaper “ Baxter’s patent Oelfarben-Bilder” or “Baxter Patent Oil Colour Prints” – and in Heinrigs Book and Print trader he stated – “I have just received the latest copies of those popular pictures (this was Nov 1851, just 1 month after the close of the Great Exhibition and obviously not the first supply of these prints) among them especially Flora as a larger genre picture, and the Interior of the Great Exhibition (penant of the well known outside view). They are available at my shop at the same low prices as in London. With pleasure complete collections will be shown on demand.” In 1852 we can find him advertising “Discounts available for complete sets”.
Another name alongside Heinrigs was the company of F. C. Eisen, bookseller and publisher to the King of Prussia. An interesting full page advert dated Dec 1851 listed many Baxter prints by title at various prices, also listed were ”Le Blond new patent oil colour prints in Baxter’s manner” and “New colour pictures of Bradshaw & Blacklock's Publishing House”. At the foot of the advert it states “We will have all newly published prints available in stock within two days of their publication in London”. There was obviously a good demand and, it seems, a good bit of rivalry between the two companies. I also have an Eisen advert from an unknown newspaper stating “Special Library for travellers” recommended visitors should visit his two establishments in Cologne BUT this advert is in English, so, did he also advertise in English newspapers?
Theodor Oswald Weigel can be found in 1851 also still offering Baxter Prints for sale in Rudolph Weigels Kunstlager- Catalog, Leipiz as his father (presumably) had done back in 1838.
F C Eisen's advertisement in the December 1851 edition of Kolnische Zeitung - that actually translates to Koln Newspaper but is does appear that was a title of an actual publiocation
One last name to mention is that of Franz Thimm - he can be found advertising “Baxter Oel-Bilder” in Borsenblatt fur den Deutschen Buchhandel, Leipiz as early as June 1851 and in December “New Baxter Oil Picture – The Reconciliation – I supply Baxter pictures at 33 1/3rd discount”. In July of that year he can be found advertising The Arctic Expedition.
Franz Thimm advertising 'Thimm's Colour Pictures' but they were in fact Le Blonds!
What was different about Franz Thimm is he was a German bookseller – based in LONDON yet advertising in the German press. Interestingly in July 1851 Franz Thimm can be found advertising “Oil Prints in Baxter Manner” with a list of prints that certainly seem to translate as the titles of Le Blond prints but! No mention of Le Blond. “Baxter has granted patents to produce oil paintings in his manner to some (printers / publishers) by whom the following pictures have just been published. In order to differentiate between Baxter’s and these others please ask for Thimms Oelbilder” (Thimm’s Colour Pictures), was he trying to pass these prints off as his own? One month later in the same publication, obviously annoyed, we see F C Eisen stating “in order to avoid misunderstanding we point out that these pictures have not been published by Mr Thimm in London but this collection is identical with the one which we have already advertised and which the publishers Le Blond & Co in London have given us stock. It was obviously a competitive and cutthroat market!
Ironically, after trying to find anything I could about the Heinrigs seal, my new German friend directed me to Max Mitzman's Baxter book which lists all Baxter seals, a book I had read many years ago, and yes, it included this seal. Mitzman states he had only found the seal on just one print, St Ruth’s Priory and Mitzman described Heinrigs as 'Baxter’s agent' – this must be where Werner Neite took his assumption from in his articles – did Mitzman have any proof of a direct business relationship between the two parties? I have to say, due to the level of information Mitzman seems to have had, I think this is very unlikely. I think that it would be near impossible for any of these German print sellers to have been officially Baxter’s agents. How could they be agents and yet let other dealers in the same town also advertise Baxter’s prints? Unless the likes of Heinrigs, Eisen AND Thimm where all agents, (near impossible) I think, none were.
I have seen Baxter prints with a small embossed seal of T Gladwell London on the mount, I feel that this, like Heinrigs seal, is more of a retailers stamp. Whatever the business relationship they had it is obvious that Baxter Prints were highly sought after in Germany at that time and some great pains would have been taken to have the latest prints “available in stock within two days of their publication in London”
Concluding I would like to thank Werner Neite, an eminent writer on the subject of the history of photography for researching and writing the original article back in 1993, where much of this information has come from, and to his son Burghard who, without his translation, the images and information he supplied this article wouldn’t have been possible or as interesting.
If you enjoyed this you might like to read about Baxter's agent in USA