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A series of six astronomical engravings in tones of blue, white, yellow, and green, intended to demonstrate that the earth is at the center of the universe, based on planetary charts drawn by Isaac Frost, an artist and scientist associated with a Victorian sect known as the Muggletonians. They were engraved by Chubb & Son, London, and printed by George Baxter, who employed his innovative oil color printing technique that permitted subtle gradations and seamless transitions between colors for a glowing effect.
The religious sect known as Muggletonians were originally formed by cousins John Reeve and Lodowick Muggleton in the 1650s, during the aftermath of the English Civil War. Reeves and Muggleton believed themselves to be divinely inspired prophets, the "two witnesses" described in Chapter XI of the Book of Revelations, appointed by God to preach to the ungodly world in its final days. After Reeve's death in 1658, Muggleton moved away from the millennial message and preached an early form of Unitarianism that eventually became known as Muggletonian.
As opposed to the Christian view of a Holy Trinity, Muggletonians believed Christ the Son was in fact the true God, while the prophets Elijah and Moses watched over Heaven. Heaven was to be found on Earth, rather than in the afterlife, and Hell likewise existed within man. Unlike many radical sects, they preached reason, faith and toleration. Ritual was minimal, in part to stay under the radar of authorities who might accuse them of blasphemy; a service might be a private gathering at a local inn or tavern with a Bible reading and the singing of the "Divine Songs" over a few beers. The Muggletonians continued as a group well into the Victorian era with the last reported member dying in 1979.
Isaac Frost was a scientist and prominent member of the sect in the mid 19th century who was instrumental in the refinement of the Muggletonian's astronomical theory, which rejected Newtonian physics in favor of biblical statements, especially from the Book of Enoch. They were originally published in 1846 under the title Two Systems or Astronomy: First, the Newtonian System, Second, the System in Accordance with the Holy Scriptures and were likely circulated only to members of the sect. Frost and his brother Joseph also edited the three-volume set of The Works of J. Reeve and L. Muggleton (1832).
George Baxter (1804-1867) was a London printer who developed and patented an unusual method of printing using oil-based inks. Baxter was trained as a wood engraver and started his own printing business around 1827, publishing his first color print in 1829. In 1835 he patented his method. A meticulous craftsman, over the next 30 years, he produced some 400 color prints of various subjects, as book illustrations and separately issue prints. Relative to hand-coloring and other available methods, Baxter's process was a less expensive way to produce quality color prints, and brought color prints in reach to a broader market. As a way to generate income to renew his patent after it expired in 1849, he sold licenses to his process to other firms, notably that of Abraham Le Blond. After Baxter died in 1867, his process was gradually supplanted by the introduction of chromolithography, a cheaper and less technically demanding process. However, his work continued to be admired by print collectors. The short-lived First Baxter Society was founded in 1895, and succeeded in 1921 by the Second Baxter Society, which lasted about two decades. In 1983, the New Baxter Society was founded as an international organization for collectors, academics and institutions interested in prints produced by the Baxter method.
Full publication information: Drawn by Isaac Frost. Engraved by W.P. Chubb & Son (or "Engraved by Chubb & Son 7, Charterhouse Street"). Printed in Oil Colors by G. Baxter Patentee, 11, Northampton Square.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling, soft creases. Some with occasional scattered pale foxing. Paper tone from one print to the next overall with slight variations.
"English Dissenters: Muggletonians." ExLibris.org. 7 July 2013. http://www.exlibris.org/nonconform/engdis/muggleton.html (5 May 2016).
Pettit, Mike. "Two Systems or Astronomy." Muggletonian.org.uk. http://muggletonian.org.uk/Later%20Muggletonian/two%20systems.htm (5 May 2016).
Smith, Roger, ed. "About the New Baxter Society." 1997-2016. The New Baxter Society. http://newbaxtersociety.org/about.aspx (5 May 2016).
Smith, Roger, ed. "George Baxter." 1997-2016. The New Baxter Society. http://newbaxtersociety.org/georgebaxter.aspx (5 May 2016).Smith, Roger, ed. "Isaac Frost's 'Two Systems of Astronomy.'" May 2013. The New Baxter Society. http://newbaxtersociety.org/features/2013may.aspx (5 May 2016).