Lyon’s Sketch Book of Mexico with Lithographs on India Proof Paper

Early English Lithography by Hullmandel

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230. LYON, G[eorge] F[rancis]. The Sketch Book of Captn. G.F. Lyon R.N. [London: Published by J. Dickinson 114 New Bond Street; Printed at C. Hullmandel’s Lithographic Establishment, 51 Gt. Marlborough St., 1827]. 10 uncolored lithograph plates on India proof paper mounted on sheets, some with titles and imprints in image, others with lithograph captions above and/or below (scenes in Mexico, Native Americans, architecture, archaeology) by Richard James Lane, James William Giles, George Childs, and James Duffield Harding, after Lyon’s original drawings, all printed by Charles Joseph Hullmandel, plus 3 lithograph plates on 2 leaves (explanatory text). Small 4to (22.7 x 23 cm), twentieth-century half black morocco over tan and brown marbled boards, matching gilt-lettered morocco label on upper cover. Except for some scattered mild foxing, very fine, original tissue guards present. The work was published in two parts in wrappers (not present in this copy).

List of Plates on India Proof Paper Mounted

All mounted on heavy sheets that measure approximately 22 x 22 cm. Measurements following are the size of each India proof plate.

The Sketch Book of Captn. G.F. Lyon R.N. The Indian Church at San Vicente (on the Panuco) Drawn on the Spot by Captn. Lyon, on Stone by R.J. Lane. Printed by C. Hullmandel. 13 x 14.4 cm.

[Below plate: The Mines of the Veta Grande, Zacatecas. Drawn on the Spot by Captn. Lyon & on Stone by J.W. Giles.___Printed by C. Hullmandel.]11.2 x 15.2 cm.

[Below plate: Waggons of the States of Zacatecas & San Luis Potosi. Drawn on the Spot by Captn. Lyon & on Stone by J.W. Giles.___Printed by C. Hullmandel.] 9.8 x 15.3 cm.

[Below plate: Indians of Panuco. Drawn from Life by Captn. Lyon & on Stone by G. Childs.___Printed by C. Hullmandel.] 11.5 x 15.1 cm.

[Below plate: Idols. Drawn at Panuco by Captn. Lyon and on Stone by R.J. Lane.___Printed by C. Hullmandel.] 11.6 x 15.1 cm.

[Above plate: The Sketch Book of Captn. G. F. Lyon R.N.] An Indian of the Village of Tanjuco. Rio Panuco. [below plate: Drawn on the Spot by Captn. Lyon, on Stone by G.W. Giles. Printed by C. Hullmandel.] 8.2 x 11.6 cm.

[Below plate: Ruins of a City between Zacatecas and Villa Nueva. Known to the Mexicans as Los Edificios. Drawn from Nature by Captn. Lyon & on J.W. Giles.___Printed by C. Hullmandel.] 10.3 x 15 cm.

[Below plate: The Indian Village of Colotlan. Drawn from Nature by Captn. Lyon, on Stone by J.D. Harding, Printed by C. Hullmandel.] 11.8 x 15.2 cm.

[Below plate: Cofre of Perote. As seen from the Church of San Francesco, Xalapa. Drawn on the Spot by Captn. Lyon, on Stone by G. Childs.___Printed by C. Hullmandel.] 12.8 x 15.2 cm.

[Below plate: Idols found at the Indian Village of Tuspan. Drawn on the Spot by Captn. Lyon, on Stone by G. Childs.___Printed by C. Hullmandel.] 11.3 x 15.8 cm.

     First edition of an outstanding, little-known plate book on Mexico, among the early English works to present images of Mexico.Gunn, Mexico in American and British Letters 895. Lowndes II, p. 1176. Palau 144403. Sabin 43854. The book is in the Hill Collection of Pacific Voyages at the University of San Diego, but the title is not included in the catalogue of the the Hill Collection. The present album is advertised at the conclusion of Vol. I of Lyon’s Journal of a Residence and Tour in the Republic of Mexico in the Year 1826. With Some Account of the Mines of that Country (London, 1828). Although these ten exquisite images are satisfying, one is left wanting more of Lyon’s art work as distilled through the alembic of English pioneer lithographer Hulmandell and his talented assemblage of artists and lithographers. Perhaps the following statement in the preface to Lyon’s Journal (p. vi) accounts for the small number of images in this work: “I have further to regret, that my materials, already too scanty, were rendered more so by the loss of many papers, and the greater part of my collections, in the wreck of the Panthea, in which I returned to England.” A contemporary review of Lyon’s Sketch Book in The Literary Gazette (Vol. XI, July 21, 1827, p. 475) remains germane:

This first No. of a new publication contains five lithographic sketches...and is printed in an excellent manner by Hullmandel. Of Captain Lyon’s superior skill as a draughtsman, after all the services he has rendered his country by its exercise, we need say nothing; but we may observe, that by the work he has now undertaken, if conducted to the end, as no doubt it will be, with the same taste and ability which marks its debut, he must greatly enhance our obligations to his pencil, and add a large share of pleasure to what he has already done in the way of utility. We have, indeed, no very accurate representations of Mexican scenery; and a production of this kind is a desideratum [and] possesses much of novelty. The prints are picturesque or characteristic, and executed in the most perfect style of lithography.

     British naval officer, mining expert, skilled artist, explorer (America, Arctic and Africa), amateur anthropologist, and socialite Captain George Francis Lyon (1795-1832) went to sea at the age of thirteen, wrote and illustrated books on his travels, and died at sea. He went to Mexico in 1826 as commissioner of the Real del Monte and Bolaños Mining Companies (see Robert W. Randall, “British Company and Mexican Community: The English at Real del Monte, 1824-1849” in The Business Review, 59:4, Winter, 1985, pp. 622-644). Aside from his official duties, one of Lyon’s goals in Mexico was to provide information on a country not very well known to the English. Lyon’s genuine interest in the indigenous peoples he encountered has been characterized as rare for travellers of his time. Of special interest is the wonderful plate Indians of Panuco. Drawn from Life by Captn. Lyon, effused with life, sympathy for his subjects, and fastidious detail of material culture and costume (not in Hiler or Lipperheide).

     The prints in Lyon’s portfolio are a most unusual form of lithography, being printed on very thin, high-quality India proof paper, which results in an exquisite image—sharper and with more depth than on ordinary paper. Because the technique is extremely time-consuming, expensive, and challenging, lithographs were seldom printed in this fashion. William Blake and George Cruikshank used the technique to good effect. Americana collectors and specialists will recall the beautiful quality in the India proof edition of Muir’s Picturesque California. Few plate books on Mexico used India proof plates, but two that come readily to mind are the best issue of Lenoir’s Dupaix expedition and the archaeological section of Kingsborough’s monumental work. Lyon’s Sketch Book is one of the early lithographic books to use the technique, and, from the perspective of printing history, it is interesting that the book was produced at the innovative firm of Hullmandel.

     English lithographer Charles Joseph Hullmandel (1789-1850) trained as an artist in Paris and travelled extensively on the Continent. In 1817 he met Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography. This experience changed the direction of his life. Back in London he began drawing on stone and printing from it. In 1818 he published his first work in lithography, twenty-four views of Italy. One of his most important early works was Britannia delineata (1822-1823), which established him as the leading lithographer of the day and inspired others to try lithography. His book Art of Drawing on Stone (London, 1824) was highly influential. Most of the early improvements in lithography were achieved through his efforts. Hulmandell contributed several inventions relating to color printing and reproducing gradations in tones to create the effect of soft color washes, e.g., in conjunction with Michael Farraday and James Harding, he formulated methods of stabilizing crayon on stone so that it was possible to produce artists’ editions.


Sold. Hammer: $2,000.00; Price Realized: $2,450.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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