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Astronomy, Diagram, Solar System, Smith’s Astronomy, Antique Prints, American, Mid 19th Century


Asa Smith (artist and editor)
[Astronomy Diagrams]
Smith’s Illustrated Astronomy
Boston and New York: 1848 to 1866
Hand-colored woodblock prints
11 x 9 inches each
$325 each; 8 or more $250 each

Our stock on these varies from time to time, though usually most if not all are in stock. Hand coloration may vary from one print to another from a different set.  If interested, please let us know which ones and if in stock, we will email you first for your approval a jpeg picture of the very one you would get.

Smith’s Illustrated Astronomy was the most popular American pictorial astronomy guide of the 19th century. It contained numerous scientific diagrams demonstrating or showing principles of planetary motion and features, other astronomical phenomena, the moon, and the constellations. Also included is a picture of the use of an orrery in an elementary classroom. The visual elements in Smith’s astronomical prints are characterized by simple graphic images against a black background, as well as repeating geometric forms and linear elements, typically circles and ovals. Originally copyrighted in 1848, numerous editions followed up to 1866.

Product description continues below.


In his Preface, Smith, the Principal of Public School No. 12, located at 17th Street and Eighth Avenue in New York City, explained that the purpose of this series was “to present all distinguishing principles in physical Astronomy with as few words as possible; but with such ocular demonstrations, by way of diagrams and maps, as shall make the subject easily understood.”  He also noted that “[t]he Diagrams, which are larger and more full than those of any other work adapted to common schools, are many of them original in their design.”  Smith further stated that the creation of Smiths Astronomy “occupied the whole of his spare time for nearly three years; the most laborious part of it being the drawing of the diagrams, &c. on wood, ready for the tool of the engraver which was done by the Author himself.”  In other words, Smith created and drew each print on a woodblock, and then a specialist wood engraver engraved the images into the wood for printing.

Titles of prints:

The Seasons
Signs of the Zodiac
Eclipses of the Sun and Moon (2 different prints)
Mars, Asteroids & Jupiter
Phases of the Moon
Orbits of the Planets
[Classroom Lesson with Orrery]
Terrestrial & Celestial Globes
Refraction, Parallax, Light & Heat
Moons Nodes Eclipses &c.
Mercury & Venus
Jupiter Herschel or Uranus, & Leverrier or Neptune
Uranus & Neptune
Greatest Number of Eclipses in One Year
Aerolites, Meteors &c.
Solar System
Telescopic View of the Full Moon

Condition:  Each generally very good with light toning, wear, handling. Margins irregularly sized on some, as issued.  Few with repaired short marginal tears.

Additional information


19th Century