CL 111 - Order of the Garter - Not a Baxter Print after all!
Over the years we have regularly seen new discoveries and unrecorded prints or variations but now for something different. This time we are writing about a print that has been considered to be a Baxter print since Courtney Lewis first recorded it as such in 1908 but I have now discovered that is not printed by Baxter after all. The print in question is CL 111 - Order of the Garter - Banner, Helmet and Crest, one of plates from the hard to find History of the Orders of Knighthood which was published from 1839 by William Pickering, my copies are dated 1842.
As far as I am aware there are various editions of the book:
1) 4 large volumes with plates printed by Baxter in yellow.
2) Same but printed by Baxter in gold.
3) As above but with extra hand coloured portraits, nothing to do with Baxter.
4) Issued separately as a book of just the plates in yellow, possibly, but unlikely in gold. My version, if not all versions, is titled – The Insignia of the Orders of Knighthood. A separate single volume of text “Excerpts from The History of…” was also issued with a preface dated May 1841. This mentions Baxter and states “A list of the plates is given in another part of this volume”, so possibly this was issued to accompany the book of plates.
5) As (4) above but titled “A Concise Description of the Insignia of the Orders of British Knighthood not dated but probably published in 1844
6) In 1845 Henry G Bohn advertised “yellow and gold versions at half the original published price.” I have only seen an advert for this and do not know the contents or details. There is no mention of the original publisher or Baxter and as Bohn was normally a publisher in his own right is this another edition now published by him?
There seems to be a number of differences in the make up of these volumes, for instance CL 116A and the 2nd version of the same medal, quite recently discovered, CL116B appear together in some editions but singularly in others. Was CL116A in the earlier editions and CL116B in the later ones? It seems that CL116B wasn’t a replacement for CL116A otherwise they wouldn’t appear the in same edition. Were the yellow copies printed first and then gold at a later date? We would a need to get information from many more sets of these books before anyone could give a definitive answer to those questions.
CL111 from the 'yellow' edition - NOT a Baxter print this example partially hand coloured as it is commonly found
Now to CL 111, when in the yellow edition it is generally uncoloured or sometimes poorly or partially hand coloured. It has been questioned before whether Baxter ever produced this in yellow even as late as when the Baxter Society website database was being produced only a few years ago, as far as I was aware no fully coloured yellow version has ever been put forward as being produced by Baxter. I have been very lucky to be able to study a few different sets of these books, when you stand back and look at the yellow version, so normally uncoloured or partially coloured, you realise that this print stands out as being different from the others. All the true Baxter plates are on plain pages with no titles or text, yet this print has 5 lines of text. You then notice that the font, printing ink and general style is the same as other text, smaller illustrations and headings in the book. I feel that CL111 was never meant to be a plate and was in fact just a large ‘in text’ illustration printed by the book printer, in some editions having been later hand coloured. This would explain the look of the print, more obvious in the uncoloured editions. The 4th version, the plates only edition mentioned above, seems to confirm this as it has a list of plates and
in the yellow version the print is not listed or included. I have never seen a gold version of this edition, if ever published.
I had always thought that I had never seen a fully coloured print in yellow BUT when I looked, my copy was. This made me study my copies a lot harder and now I realised that my yellow copy was in fact fully hand coloured (and I have to say done very well) but, to my surprise, so was both my copies in gold, a print that had never been doubted to have been printed by Baxter.
Close ups of two parts of the 'print' - Gold copy to the left and yellow to the right - All show inconsistent blue wavy edges, proof that neither of these were printed from blocks. Note also how the thicker hand applied gold finish in the two left hand examples obliterates the detail in the edging of the banner and glove. The detail on the glove would have then been applied by hand later
Under close inspection you notice that it is obviously hand coloured. You will see from the close ups of both the yellow and gold versions that when you look for the standard features of any block printing, they are not present. Baxter’s blocks would have been made with a high degree of accuracy so the edges of the colours would have been perfectly straight, also, if the register had gone out slightly on printing, the blue block for instance would be out in the same direction and proportion across the whole print. In all the fully coloured copies I have studied these features are not present, wavy edges and no regular ‘register’.
I have also noticed that in the yellow version you can still see the black lines that make up the fringing showing through the yellow paint but when the obviously thicker gold illumination is added it is completely blocked out.
So why were some copies fully coloured? If it was never intended to be a plate but just a text type illustration initially it would not have intended to be coloured. In the basic library editions it wouldn’t have mattered but when they issued the fully leather bound versions perhaps they thought this was letting the volumes down. Some, but not all, gold editions have extra full length portraits. I have seen some in an odd volume 4 that I had and when you compare the colouring of these it is quite likely to have been done by the same hand.
So CL 111, listed as Baxter prints in yellow and gold since 1908, are in fact not Baxter prints after all.
One of the hand coloured full length portraits that appear in some of the 'gold' editions. These have never been considered to be by Baxter but when you look at their colouring and execution could have been by the same hand as hand coloured CL111