The City of Philadelphia
The City of Philadelphia
The City of Philadelphia
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The City of Philadelphia
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The City of Philadelphia

WILLIAM BIRCH, 1800

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The City of Philadelphia
William Birch, 1800
BIRCH, William (1755-1834). The City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania, North America; as it appeared in 1800. Springland Cottage, Pennsylvania: W. Birch, 1800.

"Each plate is a moment frozen in time, a snapshot that shows the inhabitants strolling, conversing, or working in their everyday lives, with different street corners or prominent buildings as their backdrop. The artist succeeded in giving the viewer an intimate sense of the life of the city as well as its chief monuments" – America Pictured to the Life

First edition of the first American color-plate book. "Pride of place in American color plate books must always go to William Birch, whose The City of Philadelphia...In the Year 1800 was the pioneering work of the genre. An accomplished artist and miniaturist, Birch engraved all of the plates for his collection of street and building scenes. It was a remarkably ambitious work at the time, and only a few small individual color plates predate it in American publishing. The book was sufficiently popular for Birch to reissue it in somewhat varying formats in 1804, 1809, and 1828" (Stamped with a National Character).

Moreover, unlike earlier uncolored American view books, this work was also the first "to record both the buildings and people of urban America in any detail. Rather than exhibiting a static iconography of the most notable architecture, Birch produced a series of street scenes which draw the viewer into the life of the town" (America Pictured to the Life). This copy includes both states of the "High Street from the Country Market-place" plate. America Pictured to the Life 3; Howes B-459 ("dd"); Federal Hundred 79; Stamped with a National Character 1; Snyder, City of Independence p. 224.

Oblong folio (386 x 460mm). 27 hand-colored engraved plates including frontispiece, plus plate 11 present in two states, engraved title, and plan, for a total of 30; with prospectus and subscriber list bound at end (unobtrusive repairs to edges of first few leaves and a few internal leaves). Contemporary morocco gilt (rebacked with restoration to edges, some abrading to lower cover). Custom clamshell box.

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