BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL. After ROMANS, Bernard, "A Correct View of the Late Battle at Charlestown." [Robert] Aitken: Printed for The Pennsylvania Magazine, September 1775.
The earliest obtainable view of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Bernard Romans (1741-1784), a Dutch-born cartographer, surveyor, engineer, soldier and writer, best known for his 1775 work, A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida, became active in revolutionary politics soon after he left Florida in 1773 to travel in the northern British colonies. He was present in Boston at the time of the Tea Party in December 1773 and in April 1775 was appointed a captain of militia by the Connecticut Committee of Safety. Romans's company marched to Fort George soon afterwards and then to Ticonderoga to help secure the valuable artillery stored there. While it is not known whether Romans was present at Bunker Hill, he produced an etching under the title, An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charleston, June 17, 1775 and advertising it for sale in the 16 September 1775 issue of the Pennsylvania Ledger. The present example, a scaled-down version produced by Robert Aitken, appeared in the September 1775 issue of the short-lived Pennsylvania Magazine which was first advertised for sale at the beginning of October (See Pennsylvania Ledger, 2 October 1775, p. 1 Aitken also offered one-off editions of the print to his clients, but this example appears to be in the former category. Romans, reacting to Aitken's piracy, took out an advertisement in early October, noting that his was "much superior to any pirated copy now offered or offering to the public." (Pennsylvania Ledger, 7 October 1775, p. 1). However, while Romans offered his prints for five shillings (plain) and seven shillings sixpence (colored), Aitken was offering his version for a mere sixpence, which may explain the incredible rarity of the Romans original with only ten examples known extant. Both editions are rare, but a copy of Romans's original hasn't appeared at auction since 1973 (Sotheby's, New York, 18 May 1973, lot 71), making the present copy the earliest view obtainable. Stauffer 3; Stokes & Haskell, p. 27, Shadwell 54.
Hand-colored engraving. 7 3/4 x 10 3/8 in (197 x 265mm). (Moderate toning, mounted to a larger sheet, marginal chips and losses along left margin, vertical creases, lighter marks at top right corner.) Framed.