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Engravings by William Humphrys
Scrapbook of print specimens and proofs engraved by Philadelphia and London engraver William Humphrys. Contents include postage stamp proofs, book and periodical illustrations, tile pages, portrait prints, advertisements, and cut outs of banknote and certificate vignettes. Majority of graphics depict allegorical imagery or illustrations of genre, religious, sentimental, and literary scenes, some from the plays of Shakespeare. Illustrations include scenes of courtship; female friendship; children with animals; a ghoulish-looking woman with a torch; a European man smoking a hookah; Jesus Christ; Adam & Eve; and imagery from Edmund Spencer's "Faery Queen", John Milton's "Palemon's Story," and John Gay's "Thursday: or The Spell." Allegorical works depict the figures of Columbia, Minerva, Mercury, Neptune, Bounty, Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Hope, and Apollo, as well as scenes with the American eagle; caducei for the "Liverpool Apothecaries Company"; citizens fighting a fire; cherubs charting a globe; Native Americans; a family; sailing ships; and symbols of farming, trade, and industry. Vignettes also show a portrait of Benjamin Franklin; Pocahontas saving John Smith; and a female warrior slaying a man of royalty captioned "Sic Semper Tyranus.", Portrait prints, some probably from the British periodical "Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country," depict Israel Putnam; George Washington; Gustavus Adolphus; Mrs. Sloman, of Covent Garden Theatre in the Character of Baltimore; Thomas Carlyle; William Dunlop; Letitia Elizabeth Landon; D. M. Moir; and Henry Purcell. Scrapbook also contains an 1844 banknote specimen of "La Provincia de Buenos Aires" illustrated with vignettes of ostriches; ca. 1845 postage stamp proof depicting Queen Victoria after the Chalon portrait; a full-length portait of an unidentified man, possibly Humphrys; and an advertisement for the Philadelphia artist Joshua Shaw showing a man leading his horse down a bucolic path, as well as engravings after his work of a landscape and an advertisement for Cohen's Lottery Exchange Office, Baltimore., Title from stamp on spine., Morocco binding., Various American and British artists, including W. Chatfield, John Opie, Joshua Shaw, Robert Smirke, C. R. Leslie, Charles L. Eastlake, W. E. West, George Smithard, Carlo Dola, A.E. Chalon, J. Wood, J. Stephanoff, Pastorini, Alfred Croquis (i.e., Daniel Maclise), A. F. Tireggi, John James Barralet, J. Banks, J. M. Wright, Thomas Stothard, P. Williams, Camille Roqueplan, and R. Westall., Various American and British printers and publishers, including H. S. Singleton, J. P. Davis, and James Fraser., Manuscript letter by Humphry completed January 10, 1865 to Anna Holloway pasted on opening page to scrapbook. Letter details his ill health, which in spite of, he still appreciates "the brightness of the sun, the greeness of the earth, and the beauty of extreme nature.", Some scrapbook pages contain manuscript notes identifying the genre of the specimen., Cataloging funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (PW-506-19-10), 2010-2012., Lib. Company. Annual report, 1967, p. 55., William Humphrys (1795-1865), born in Dublin, immigrated to the United States early in his life and studied engraving under George Murray in Philadelphia. He worked as an engraver in the city circa 1815-1823 producing book illustrations, advertisements, and banknote and certificate vignettes. He also served as secretary for the Association of American Artists. Relocating to England, he produced similar work before returning to the United States in 1843. In 1845, he moved to Dublin to engrave "The Reading Magdalene" for the Royal Irish Art Union before returning to England where he worked as an engraver for the firm Perkin, Bacon, and Co. During this employ, he was noted for his re-engraving of the head of Queen Victoria for the 1 d postage stamp. Humphrys retired from engraving in his later years and worked as an accountant for the printing firm Novello & Co. He died at the Novellos' Genoa villa on January 21, 1865.