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Sporting Art, Horses, Coaching, The Birth Day Team, Antique Print, London, 1840


Charles Hunt (1803-1877)
The Birth Day Team
Lewis & Co., London: c. 1840
Hand-colored aquatint
19.5 x 23 inches, plate mark
21.5 x 25.5 inches, overall

Print from a series titled Coaches, showing the Quicksilver Devonport London Royal Mail stagecoach, pulled by the birthday team of four horses through the countryside across the river from a castle. Below the scene is a lively conversation between one of the passengers and the coachman with interesting details on the compensation of coachmen and associated workers responsible for delivering mail.

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The passenger begins by observing, “You have a very Spicy Team here Mr. Coachman, it must cost the Governors something considerable to keep it up in such stile.” The coachman proceeds to explain that in fact the governors manage the operation with very little investment or outlay of cash, and though he’d prefer to receive regular wages, “they don’t pay any wages except to the Guard and he has only Ten Shillings and Six Pence a week.” Coachmen, aside from being provided with a new livery coat, waistcoat and hat once a year “to keep a respectable appearance,” survive off of “Charity” (presumably tips from passengers). The passenger, startled to hear that even the Guard does not earn a living wage, replies that he will give “five Shillings between you and the Guard” and asks the coachman’s advice concerning how to acquire good horses. The coachman goes on at length with a colloquial monologue concerning each horse in the team and its breeding history. Arriving at his destination, the passenger tips the coachman five shillings as promised and adds, “I have been much amused, and shall not forget the Birth Day Team and the Quick-silver Mail.”

Charles Hunt was a British engraver of horse and sporting subjects active during the 19th century. He came from a family of engravers and was noted for his fine engravings after Pollard, Alken, Herring and other painters working in the genre.

Full publication information: London, Pub’d. by Lewis & Co. Printsellers 96, Cheapside.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Attractive original color. Apparently formerly mounted to board (now removed) with associated toning on verso, not affecting the front. Minor abrasions in outer margins, probably caused by removal of earlier matting, unobtrusive and can be matted out.


Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 5, p. 30 (Hunt).

Siltzer, Frank. The Story of British Sporting Prints. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925. p. 166.

Additional information


19th Century