Sotheby's Book Auction, London
Wood Engraving, 1888
A Book-Sale at Sotheby's Auction-Room
HMP (after)
A Book-Sale at Sotheby's Auction-Room
The Graphic, London: May 26, 1888
Hand-colored wood engraving
14 x 19 inches
$600

Victorian-era book sale at Sotheby's London. The auctioneer is at a podium, the clerk records sales at his desk, with participants at a large table in the room. Full bookcases line the walls. Sotheby's was founded in London in 1744 as a book auction house and at the time this print was made was trading as Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge. Mr. Hodge is depicted in this print, along with other men who are identified in the margins:

Mr. Railton, Mr. E. G. Hodge (Of the Firm of Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge), Mr. G. J. Ellis, Mr. J. Westell, Mr. Leighton, Mr. James Roche, Mr. H. Stevens, Mr. Robson, Mr. Molini, Mr. Frederick Locker-Lampson, Mr. E. Walford, Mr. E. Stibbs, Mr. W. Reeves, Mr. B. Quaritch, Mr. G. Snowdon (Clerk), Mr. E. Daniell

The Graphic was an illustrated London weekly newspaper launched in 1869 by William Luson Thomas (1830-1900). By 1882, advances in printing technology accelerated the process by which illustrations were converted to woodblocks for printing, so that pictures of events could be published within a few days, and The Graphic became a major publication employing over 1,000 people. It commissioned illustrations of current events from pole exploration to the flogging of a criminal at Newgate Prison, and slices of London life such as a Sotheby's auction or a scene in a women's twopenny lodging house. They also published well-regarded artistic illustrations of such subjects as a series on Shakespeare's heroines. Hubert von Herkomer, one of the artists, wrote of its importance to social realist artists: "It is not too much to say that there was a visible change in the selection of subjects by painters in England after the advent of The Graphic. Mr. Thomas opened its pages to every phase of the story of our life; he led the rising artist into drawing subjects that might never have otherwise arrested his attention; he only asked that they "should be subjects of universal interest and of artistic value." In 1889, Thomas and his company, H. R. Baines and Co, began publishing the first daily illustrated newspaper, the Daily Graphic. After he died in 1900, his son, Carmichael Thomas, ran the company. The Graphic ceased publication in 1932.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Vertical center fold as issued. Margins slightly reduced, but ample. Printing on verso, as issued. Later color.

References:

"Concise History of the British Newspaper in the Nineteenth Century." The British Library. http://www.bl.uk/collections/brit19th.html (18 February 2003).

"William Luson Thomas." Spartacus Schoolnet UK. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JthomasL.htm (18 February 2003).