Lot 4
  • 4

Birch, William

75,000 - 100,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • ink and paper
The City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania North America; as it appeared in the Year 1800. Second Edition 1804 consisting of Twenty Copper-Plates. "Springland Cot, near Neshaminy Bridge on the Bristol Road, Pennsylvania": [1804]

Oblong folio (355 x 468 mm). Engraved title with the arms of the City of Philadelphia, letterpress introduction and plate list, engraved plan of Philadelphia by W. Barker, 20 fine handcolored engraved views of the city by William and Thomas Birch and William Barker after drawings by the Birches, 2 pp. Subscriber's list; with the exception of a little minor spotting to title and the expected light staining to tissue guards, a very crisp and clean copy with only very occasional marginal smudge of finger soiling. Contemporary deep red roan and light red boards, spine in seven gilt rule compartments, contemporary spine with manuscript title; minor rubbing to joints and covers. Red morocco gilt clamshell box.

Catalogue Note

The earliest published views of an American city in the remarkably scarce revised edition.

After producing the first edition (see previous lot), Birch began work on the second, to include re-engravings of six plates and the addition of a new one, a view of the Market Street Permanent Bridge. The revised images include a new depiction of the interior of the High Street Market, changes to  the views of Congress Hall, the State House Garden, the Bank of Pennsylvania and the Jail. The work was available in both colored and uncolored issues, both now very scarce.

The second edition elicited over 120 new subscribers for 300 in total,  including  New York governor Morris, Robert Fulton and Thomas Jefferson (subscribing as President).   "Publication of the second edition of the Philadelphia Views brought the work to its high point" (Snyder, William Birch: His Philadelphia Views).

The second edition is even more rare than the first, with only the Snyder copy (from the uncolored issue) at auction in recent decades and OCLC recording one copy at Winterthur.