Philadelphia on Stone:
The First Fifty Years of Commercial Lithography, 1828-1878

Lithographic artist. Detail from a plate in J. Luther Ringwalt, ed. American Encyclopaedia of Printing (Philadelphia : Menamin & Ringwalt : J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1871)

Lithographic artist. Detail from a plate in J. Luther Ringwalt, ed. American Encyclopaedia of Printing (Philadelphia : Menamin & Ringwalt : J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1871) Click image for larger view.

 

The Library Company’s new three-year research project “Philadelphia on Stone” will explore 19th-century lithography in Philadelphia by documenting the lives of lithographic artists and printers, and the work they produced. Funded by a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation, with additional support from the Independence Foundation, the project examines the impact of a new method of printmaking on the iconography of the city in a period of tremendous growth and change. It seeks to illuminate Philadelphia’s transformation from a seaport into a leading manufacturing center and the impact these changes had on the built environment and on its inhabitants by examining an important body of work visually documenting the city.

 

The project will include:

  • A survey of seven institutional collections for lithographic views of Philadelphia created by local firms in the first fifty years of commercial lithography, resulting in a digital catalog of about 800 views.

  • A web-published illustrated biographical dictionary documenting the careers of over 500 commercial lithographic artists and printers working in Philadelphia.

  • An exhibition at the Library Company on 19th-century lithography, on view from March to October 2010 with accompanying public programs, including participation in Philagrafika 2010

  • A heavily-illustrated book containing a collection of thematic essays on 19th-century Philadelphia lithography by Library Company curators and other scholars in the field.

Lithographic printer. Detail from a plate in J. Luther Ringwalt, ed. American Encyclopaedia of Printing (Philadelphia : Menamin & Ringwalt : J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1871)

Lithographic printer. Detail from a plate in J. Luther Ringwalt, ed. American Encyclopaedia of Printing (Philadelphia : Menamin & Ringwalt : J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1871) Click image for larger view.

 

The Library Company invites members, scholars, artists, Philadelphia residents, descendents of local lithographers, and other interested parties to contact project director Erika Piola about on-going research efforts.

 

William H. Rease, artist. P. Maison's biscuit bakery, 134 N. Front Street, Philadelphia. (Philadelphia: Lith. of Wagner & McGuigan, ca. 1846).
William H. Rease, artist. P. Maison's biscuit bakery, 134 N. Front Street, Philadelphia. (Philadelphia: Lith. of Wagner & McGuigan, ca. 1846). Click image for larger view.
 
John C. Wild, artist. Moyamensing Prison. (Philadelphia: Published by J.T. Bowen at his Lithographic & Print Colouring Establishment, 1848)
John C. Wild, artist. Moyamensing Prison. (Philadelphia: Published by J.T. Bowen at his Lithographic & Print Colouring Establishment, 1848). Click image for larger view.