The Episcopal Academy was founded in 1785 by The Reverend William White to educate the sons of Philadelphia's Episcopalian community. Its first trustees were such famous Americans as Robert Morris, the financier of the Revolution and signer of the Declaration of Independence; his partner, Thomas Willing; Francis Hopkinson, also a signer of the Declaration of Independence; and Edward Shippen, later Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. The curriculum included instruction in Greek and Latin, as well as more practical training in business and mathematics. In 1921, the school moved from its city campus to a suburban Merion location. Fifty-three years later, Episcopal Academy opened the Devon campus to accommodate a larger, coeducational student body. The first young women were graduated in 1984. As the result of energetic fund-raising, the Academy was able to begin construction in 2005 on an entirely new campus in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, and the move there was completed by Fall 2008. This new, specially designed campus enables the school to continue to provide the best possible facilities to its students and faculty.
The Episcopal Academy educates qualified, motivated students to grow intellectually, physically, and spiritually, and to share their talents generously. The Episcopal Academy is a coeducational community of learners and teachers working to achieve excellence through a strong academic program, comprehensive athletics, and vibrant arts. The school's Episcopalian heritage, with its respect for all faiths, forms the basis of life together.
The board, after careful consideration, has determined that the requirements for the display and the continuing care and preservation of this rare historical print are not consistent with the primary educational mission of the Episcopal Academy, and has therefore recommended its sale at public auction. The proceeds will help strengthen and enhance the Academy's services to its students.
[PHILADELPHIA]. An East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia: taken by George Heap from the Jersey Shore, Under the Direction of Nicholas Skull, Surveyor of the Province of Pennsylvania. Engraved by G. Vandergucht, London: Published according to Act of Parliament, 1 September 1754.
Panoramic engraving on 4 folio sheets, each approximately 29½ x 23½ in. Condition: Each sheet with old horizontal crease approximately 9 inches from top edge, small losses to sky area unobtrusively mended, the crease neatly reinforced from verso with archival tissue; each with small triangular patches of discoloration in margins (from early mount). Other light, mostly marginal browning or light patches (not affecting images). Sheet 1: ample margins at left, top and bottom, right side trimmed to platemark in upper portion; upper right edge reinforced from verso with archival tissue; Sheet 2: ample margins at left, top and bottom, right side trimmed to within platemark; Sheet 3: ample margins at left, top and bottom, right side trimmed to platemark in lower half; lower right edge reinforced from verso with archival tissue; Sheet 4: ample margins at right, top and bottom, left side trimmed at or just outside platemark; right edge reinforced from verso with archival tissue.
A GRAND PROSPECT OF PHILADELPHIA: A FINE COPY OF THE 1754 SCULL-HEAP EAST PROSPECT
FIRST STATE, with misspelling "Skull" at top and bottom of sheet 3.
Founded in 1680 on a site between the Delaware and the Schuylkill Rivers, Philadelphia was ideally situated for trade and by the mid 18th century, it had become the principal port on the Atlantic coast as well as the commercial and administrative hub of William Penn's province of Pennsylvania. In 1750, Thomas Penn, son of the founder, requested "a perspective view of the city," as a dramatic advertisement to attract more entrepreneurs, merchants and settlers to the city. George Heap, an accomplished local artist, undertook a detailed rendering, from the perspective of the New Jersey side of the Delaware. In 1752, he and the surveyor of the province, Nicholas Scull, advertised for advance subscribers to an engraving after Heap's drawing.
But as he was about to sail for London to have his rendering engraved on copper, Heap suddenly died. Scull took over the project and, in London, entrusted the drawing to the highly regarded Flemish-born engraver, Gerard Vandergucht (1696-1766). The completed engraving was on a monumental scale, requiring four large folio sheets, when joined measuring 82 x 20 inches. It accurately depicts the bustling waterfront of Philadelphia, a windmill on an island and many sailing vessels, pennants flying, plying the broad river. The Penn family coat-of-arms is shown at the bottom of sheet 3, along with dedication to proprietors Thomas and Richard Penn. Sheet 4 features a detailed key, identifying streets, the Courthouse, the Statehouse (Independence Hall), a large number of steepled churches and the recently founded Academy (later the University of Pennsylvania). As Martin Snyder has written, "the use of almost seven feet of paper to portray less than a mile of waterfront, from present-day South Street to Vine Street permitted the details that is its great feature." The Scull-Heap print provides a unique view of the city that would become, a few years later, the seat of the Continental Congress and later, the capital of the newly independent nation.
The grand image--the largest and most artistically significant view of any American city of its period--proved tremendously popular, and an initial press run of 500 copies was soon followed by a second of 250 copies (these with the corrected "Scull reading). Clearly, as Snyder writes, "the ravages of time upon such a giant and indeed unwieldy picture readily account for its extreme rarity today." The Scull-Heap engraving was not held in many important collections (Thomas W. Streeter, the Hon. J. William Middendorf, Laird Park, Pflaumer, Jay T. Snider) and we have located only six copies in American institutions: Colonial Williamsburg; Historical Society of Pennsylvania (2 copies, one in poor condition); Independence National Historic Park; New York Public Library (the I.N. Stokes copy); Winterthur Museum.
References: Martin P. Snyder, City of Independence: Views of Philadelphia Before 1800, 42-44; E. McSherry Fowble, Two Centuries of Prints in America: 1680-1880, A Selective Catalogue of the Winterthur Museum Collection, 23; Gloria G. Deak, Picturing America, 1497-1899, 99 ("largest and most important of the early engraved views of Philadelphia"); Nicholas B. Wainwright, "The Scull-Heap East Prospect of Philadelphia," in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 73, pp.16, 22-25; Stokes & Haskell, American Historical Prints, p. 18.