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Astronomy, Diagram, Solar System, Muggletonian Baxter Engravings, Antique Prints, 1846

$2,400

Isaac Frost (after)
W.P. Chubb & Son, London (engraver)
Set of Six Planetary Motion Prints:
Plate 1 – The Newtonian System of the Universe
Plate 3 – The Newtonian System
Plate 6 – The Newtonian System
Plate 7 – System According to the Holy Scriptures
Plate 9 – System According to the Holy Scriptures
Plate 10 – System According to the Holy Scriptures

George Baxter, London: 1846
Baxter oil color prints
9 x 12 inches each
$2400 for set

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.

Product Description Continues Below

Description

Plate 1, The Newtonian System of the Universe: The diagram represents the universe as a series of independent solar systems of various sizes, represented by a central diagram of “The Solar System” as a bright yellow sun emanating white and yellow rays, and surrounded by concentric circles representing the orbits of planets labeled (from the center outward) Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta, Jupiter, Saturn and Herschel. The smaller diagrams surrounding it follow a similar scheme, having a central sun labeled “Fixed Star” and concentric orbits of unlabeled planets.

Plate 3, The Newtonian System: The sun is at the center of the diagram, which shows the concentric orbits of Earth, Mars and Jupiter and the greatest and nearest distance between Earth and these two planets and this text, which supports the theory that the Earth and planets revolve around the sun: “The greatest distance of Jupiter from the Earth 585,000,000. The nearest distance of Jupiter from the Earth 395,000,000. Variation 190,000,000 miles. The greatest distance of Mars from the Earth 239,000,000. The nearest distance of Mars from the Earth 49,000,000. Variation 190,000,000 miles.”

Plate 6, The Newtonian System: A simple diagram shows the sun surrounded by a circle representing “The Earth’s Orbit” graduated into 360 degrees, with Earth at 360, in line with a small glowing sphere labeled “Fixed Star.” “This Diagram will show that if the Earth revolves round the Sun, as the Solar System states, then it will necessarily follow, that the Earth will differ in its position with the Sun and any given fixed star on its equator, every day throughout the whole year. Now consider, is it so? If it is not so, then it will make much in favor of the Holy Scriptures, that the Sun revolves round the Earth. Isaac Frost.”

Plate 7, System According to the Holy Scriptures: A green-blue earth is placed at the center of the universe with a graduated circle numbered I to XII in Roman numerals, and two representations of the sun on a circular path representing the sun’s orbit around Earth. A smaller circle around Earth is labeled Noon at the top, Night at the bottom, Morning to the left and Evening to the Right. Earth is bisected by a horizontal line labeled “The right line passing through the Centre of the Earth” on either side. Beneath the morning sun is the word “rise,” and beneath the evening sun the word “set.” Additional lines drawn between the suns and the top of the earth are labeled “Descending line of sight.”

Plate 9, System According to the Holy Scriptures: A large central representation of the earth, graduated by longitude lines and latitude lines at the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, the Equator, the polar circles and two on either side of the Equator. Surrounding Earth is a sky representing daytime with a shining sun at the top and night with the moon and stars at the bottom. The sky is also labeled with the four directions with South to the left and North to the right. In between the latitude lines are labeled with months of the year at the top and “First Gate,” Second Gate,” etc. through “Sixth Gate.” Above that is the inscription, ” The Year originally reckoned from the beg’n of April to the end of March.”

Plate 10, System According to the Holy Scriptures: A large central representation of the earth, graduated by longitude and latitude lines and suggestions of coastlines and lit from behind so it is mostly in shadow. It is surrounded by a larger circle, with the top labeled “Day” and showing a bright yellow sun illuminating the top portion, and the bottom labeled “Night,” with a dark blue sky illuminated by a small white moon and smaller white stars.

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.

References:

“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).

 

Additional information

Century

19th Century