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CL 25 ‘Southdown Sheep’ and CL 26 ‘Convolvulus Leaves, Flower, and Bud’
South Down Sheep - George Baxter

Baxter's Agricultural and Horticultural Gleaner contains these two Baxter prints the frontispiece CL 25 ‘Southdown Sheep’ and CL 26 ‘Convolvulus Leaves, Flower, and Bud’ on the title page, in fact they are also in TWO other books.

Courtney Lewis states that the book’s title was later changed to Baxter's Agricultural and Horticultural ‘Annual’ instead of ‘Gleaner’.  The Centenary Baxter book of 1936 states it as the other way round, that is, that it first appeared as ‘Baxter’s Agricultural and Horticultural Annual for 1836’. “In some copies title altered to Gleaner”.  Also stating “Also title page to Horticultural Supplement 1836” the only mention of this publication.

At the New Baxter Society Baxter Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham in 2019 I met John Wilson, a very interesting retired academic that had written a dissertation on 19th century photographically illustrated books supervised by Prof Twyman at Reading University some years before and also an expert on books on the history of Agriculture. We discussed many things and afterwards he sent me some very detailed images of the ‘Annual’ version of this publication and confirmed my thoughts that the ‘Annual’ had come first, this was altered to the more commonly seen ‘Gleaner’ and lastly, used in a ‘Supplement’ to another of John Baxter’s publications.

Baxter’s brother William had stated in his evidence before the Privy Council at Baxter Patent application that Southdown Sheep was most probably the first print by the patent process, and was one of the prints used in his detailed patent specification submitted on 23rd April 1836, just within the 6 months window allowed after the patent was granted on 23rd Oct 1835. In the notes Baxter states that the example of the print submitted is actually printed from a copper plate. Looking at copies of the print I have to hand the signs of a key plate are not obvious. Convolvulus is not printed by the patent process.

In the ‘Annual’ the preface is dated 24th Oct 1835, the very day after Baxter’s patent was granted and the publishers notes state that “next year we hope to be enabled to illustrate the pages with a number of coloured embellishments, perfected by the new invention, for which a patent has recently been granted to Mr George Baxter, who has succeeded in establishing an art productive of great benefit to the public. The frontispiece and title page are the early productions of his skill, and we entertain little doubt but before next year he will bring it to very great perfection, so as to afford us the opportunity…" This confirms that the ‘Annual’ was the first version.


In the ‘Gleaner’ version it can be clearly seen that the word Annual has been removed by literally roughly scraping away the top layer of paper and the word ‘Gleaner’ printed over the top.

Some copies of Southdown Sheep are signed to the right “Baxter's Colour Printing, 3, Charterhouse Square, London”. The copies in all the three books illustrated here are unsigned versions but I have located one signed copy in a ‘Gleaner’ edition still with an 1836 publication date. The version that Baxter submitted with his specification is a signed version so I can only presume the unsigned copies were the initial printings.

The three ‘different’ books that these two prints appear in are:

Baxter's Agricultural and Horticultural Annual - Baxter

Annual – first variant – Both illustrative and text title page lists the publishers as Simpkin Marshall & Co Stationers’ Court and Baxter and Son Lewes and the 2nd text only title page  states …Annual for 1836 or Annual register…The preface is dated just one day after Baxter’s patent was granted and the publishers notes refer to this fact as noted above.

Baxter's Agricultural and Horticultural Annual - George Baxter
Baxter's Agricultural and Horticultural Gleaner - Baxter

Gleaner – second and later variant – the illustrated title page has now been altered to ‘Gleaner’ and the 2nd text title page shows the amended title and the publishers as Sussex Agricultural Press Baxter & Son Lewes. The dated preface, the publishers notes referring to Baxter’s Patent and the fact that they intend to issue another next year have now all been removed. Interestingly the gilt title to the spine of my copy of the book still states ‘Annual’

Baxter's Agricultural and Horticultural Gleanr - George Baxter
Baxter's Agricultural and Horticultural Supplement - George Baxter

Supplement – third variant. Before I managed to find a copy of this book all I had was a one –off mention that these prints appeared in the ‘Horticultural Supplement 1836’. The actual full title is ‘Baxter’s Agricultural and Horticultural Supplement’, as you will see the illustrative title page is identical apart from the word ‘Annual’ having been amended to ‘Supplement’. 

Baxter's Library of Agricutural and Horticultural Knowledge

Looking at the area of paper that has again been scrapped away it is obvious that here they are still using up the stocks of the ‘Annual’ page. The text title page has now been altered so that the top of the page reads “the Supplementary Volume to the early Editions of Baxter’s Library of Agricultural and Horticultural Knowledge…There is a different preface just dated 1836 with a mention that they had been advised to publish this as an annual to defray costs. The amended title also appears on the first page of text but the rest of the book appears to be identical to the other two editions. The binding is different, presumably bound to match other volumes in ‘Baxter’s Library of Agricultural & Horticultural Knowledge’ which by 1836 had reached at least its third edition. The gilt title on the spine just reads – ‘Supplement to Baxter’s Library’.

So why was there no annual for the following year and why did the book’s title get changed? One possibility is that Baxter had a disagreement with his father. A situation that seems to have happened on a number of occasions throughout their lives so that wouldn’t have been unusual. Perhaps his father’s quote in the first annual, as noted above “next year he will bring it to very great perfection” might have antagonised Baxter feeling his father’s comments derogatory as Baxter, I feel sure, would have already though he had achieved that. These prints are the last to appear in any of his father’s publications.

Perhaps his father felt they had to stop selling the first ‘Annual’ as they couldn’t guarantee an edition next year with ‘a number of coloured embellishments’ that they had promised. Hence the change of name to ‘Gleaner’ and all references to the annual work the following year and Baxter’s Patent then being removed. Any unsold copies could have then found a home by offering the same book but under the different name to all the followers of his other publications under the name of the ‘Supplement’.

In all three volumes on the final couple of pages is noted “New works by Baxter & Son” and includes an advert: George Baxter Engraver in Wood. I found it interesting that even though the advert notes he has just received a patent for ‘Printing in Oil Colours’ he is actually still advertising purely as a wood engraver. 

George Baxter Engraver in Wood

Obviously at this early stage of his colour printing career he realises that, what was, the mainstay of his business for a number of years, is still very important to him.

As the two prints first appeared in the ANNUAL for 1836 they must have been published late in 1835 ready for the Christmas / New Year market so these prints must have been first published in 1835 not 1836 as quoted by CL.

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