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Jun 112018
American Water Lily Victoria Regia

Victoria Regia is the most revered work of early American printing.  The Great Water Lily of America was published in Boston in 1854. Illustrated by William Sharp. Authored by John Fisk Allen.  Considered Americana, this was the first printing of this sort in America.  It is splendid!

Victoria Regia: The Great Water Lily of America by William Sharp & John Fisk Allen.

This rare collection of beautiful antique chromolithographs are the work of William Sharp and John Fisk Allen.  The book was printed and published in Boston for the author John Fisk Allen.   All the stages of botanical development are clearly illustrated. Exquisite details are beautifully executed.  This species or Great Water Lily of America was of interest to everyone.  The book was issued in paper wrappers.  The contents include: Cover, Title, and Text pages.  There is a brief account of the discovery of this lily.  There are additional descriptions on the cultivation.  Magnificent illustrations by William Sharp are the first of it’s kind produced in America. The illustrations were taken from specimens grown in Salem, Massachusetts.

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A Brief History of This Collection of Early Americana:

William Sharp came to Boston from England in the late 1830’s, and jumped into printing colors from limestone plates-or lithographs. He was very proficient with incredible detail and use of color. He was a natural at his profession and produced five of the 6 plates. John Fisk Allen did only one. Can you guess which one is Allen’s?

When this rare book comes on the market it is usually offered as Americana. It was the first chromolithography published in the United States. Chromo means color. Lithograph meaning printed from limestone.

Producing early subscriptions was all the rage in early America.  It was all about how fast magazines, subscriptions and books could be produced and published. Hand coloring took tremendous time, talent and money. Printing in colors, from limestone plates, certainly would be less expensive… IF you had a GREAT lithographer. Each color was applied with an individual key stoned limestone plate.



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Jun 112018

I am happy to provide my customers with these rare and desirable Elwes Lilies, in which Fitch was the botanical illustrator in 1880.

A Monograph of the Genus Lilium: Rare & Important work on Lilies from c.1880

Additional Elwes Lilies: Large English Hand Colored Lithographs!

The artwork is by Walter Hood Fitch. He was a top botanical illustrator during the 19th Century.   These antique lithographs  come from the most important book produced on lilies A Monograph of the Genus Lilium.   Each piece is gorgeous, large folio hand colored lithographs. Click here to contact us.

The Art of Lithography:

The art of lithography was a very laborious process.  It took tremendous skill.  It was a life long craft, once a lithographer, always a lithographer!  No switching back and forth in careers in the OLD days. One would serve a long apprenticeship, sometimes years on end, with little to no pay, in order to become a craftsman like the one skilled to work on these rare Elwes Lilies Fitch produced.  The desired, original illustration was transferred onto a special kind of limestone.  The limestone came out of a certain area of Germany.  The limestone was cut into large slabs, about 1″ thick.  The illustration was meticulously drawn onto the limestone slab with a type of a greasy crayon. What was under the greasy crayon essentially was what was printed in relief.  The finished desired slab was then emerged into nitric acid.  The nitric acid burned away what was not covered by the greasy crayon.  That area was then in relief.  The greasy crayon was wiped off, inked up, and printed onto a piece of heavy wove rag paper.  (The making of the paper is another story).

The water coloring was meticulously added by a very experienced water colorist. Water coloring was also a life long career or craft.  Intense ink from minerals and vegetables and insects made up water colors in the early days. These water colored lithographs are vibrant and beautiful.  The prints themselves are in near perfect condition.  The lilies are stunning to look at in person


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