City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania North America
[BIRCH, William R. and BIRCH, Thomas]. The City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania North America: as It Appeared in the Year 1800 Consisting of Twenty-Eight Plates Drawn and Engraved by W. Birch & Son.... Springland Cot, Pa.: W. Birch, 1800. Engraved title by William Barker with vignette of the arms of Philadelphia, engraved plan of the city by Barker, letterpress leaf of introduction with list of plates, 27 hand-colored copper engravings by and after William and Thomas Birch, letterpress list of subscribers. Extra-illustrated with a variant of High Street Market plate, showing George Washington's funeral procession. Large oblong folio. Expertly bound to style in period half tree calf and marbled paper covered boards. In a dark blue morocco box, spine gilt. Bennett, p.13. McGrath p.7. Deak, Picturing America 228. Reese, Stamped with a National Character 1. Snyder, City of Independence, p.224. Snyder, "William Birch: His Philadelphia Views," in Pennsylvania Magazine of History 73:271, 87:164. HOWES B-459, "dd." Evans 38259. Reese, Federal Hundred 79. This is the first and one of the most important of all American color plate books. William Russell Birch, who conceived this splendid celebration of the city of Philadelphia, then the largest city in the United States, was a native of England. When he arrived in America in 1794 at the age of thirty-nine, he brought with him a strong academic training in art with no less a master than Sir Joshua Reynolds. His talent and all his creative skills were put to good use in his adopted city, where he founded an engraving firm. Birch hoped that his carefully planned and executed portfolio would serve as an advertisement "by which an idea of the improvements of the country could be conveyed to Europe, to promote and encourage [sic] settlers to the establishment of trade and commerce." Birch's idea was to present a series of plates which would illustrate notable buildings and characteristic scenes in his adopted city. From the beginning, he worked assiduously on the project he assigned himself, often rejecting drawings or reworking the copper plates when the printed impressions did not satisfy him. For the subject matter, there was no aspect of Philadelphia or of the vitality of its streets that he did not sweep into his embrace: the harbor; the grid plan of the streets; the sh.