Unrecorded Le Blond prints Crystal Palace, Sydenham
Over the years I have purchased a number of bulk items of certain prints, mainly Le Blond or Le Blond Baxters. I have always presumed that these batches of identical items, upwards of 150 prints of some subjects, link directly back to Mockler’s auction sale in May 1896. Mockler was forced to sell his entire collection, hundreds of thousands of items, many of which he had purchased from Abraham Le Blond in June 1893 which included all Le Blond’s printing plates. A typical lot was Lot 559 which was described as 7 dozen Hop Picker, 6 dozen Christmas Time, 12 dozen The Rose, 6 dozen See Saw, 6 dozen Short Change. Many lots also included multiple copies of Baxter’s productions (not reprinted by Le Blond) as Mockler had also purchased large quantities of his prints but it is safe to say that most would have probably been Le Blond or Le Blond Baxters.
The great benefit to me of having some of these bulk items is that you can sometimes notice details that you would never have seen if it had been just a single print.
This was the case some years ago when I purchased a bulk load of Le Blond’s Crystal Palace (LB 70 & 71). Initially I noticed that the sky appeared different in some copies which led me to look closer with some surprising results.
CL 71, apart from the cloud differences, you can see subtle variations in many of the trees but most obvious was that the row of trees going from the centre to the right had clear and well defined trunks where the other version had none.
CL70 was a little more noticeable, yet again the clouds were completely different, in fact many minor differences could be seen including the shape of the trees and the fountains however most noticeable was that on the left in one version there were two large trees and then three small figures which had now turned into a third smaller tree in the other version.
So why were there differences at all, were there two separate printing plates? A short while after I was lucky enough to come across a complete uncut sheet from the plate which showed that there were in fact four prints on the plate, two of each print.
In my ignorance I initially presumed that each copy of each print on the plate would be identical but of course I had forget these would have all been copied by hand and the 2nd copy on the plate would have been engraved, most probably, using an impression taken from the first engraving, so in theory the 2nd copy would be different in most aspects but only the skill of the engraver meant that the hand copied 2nd engraving was near identical to the first, apart from a few aspects!
Perhaps a slip of the burin on CL70 meant that the engraver had to convert the three small figures into a tree rather than beating the plate flat and starting that part again, who was going to notice anyway! Well no one did for over 150 years.
What all this means are there are in fact two distinct versions of each of these two prints.
As I mentioned I have a number of these prints. I am selling these as a reconstructed sheet or as singles as CL 70 or CL 71 and, as a special offer, if you mention you have ‘read about this on the GB website’ I will supply these postage free to the UK or duly subsidised worldwide. Please order as normal and either note on the order or email direct