J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

“Liberty Triumphant” for Sale

Tomorrow Heritage Auctions of Dallas is offering for auction a copy of this political cartoon from 1774, titled “Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression.”

It shows the reaction to the Boston Tea Party by various figures, mostly allegorical. The Americans are represented as Natives, but there are also symbolic armed women, an angel, and a devil. Practically every figure rates a word balloon.

The artist is thought to be “Philadelphia and New York engraver Henry Dawkins.” He came to New York from England in the early 1750s and found work as an engraver there and in Philadelphia. His known work includes bookplates, maps, and diagrams for the American Philosophical Society.

In May 1776 Dawkins was hauled before the New York authorities on charges of counterfeiting money, which was a form of engraving society frowned on. Two year later, however, he designed the new New York state’s coat of arms, and two years after that engraved its currency—legally this time. His last known work was a series of copperplates advertised in Philadelphia in 1786.

Heritage Auctions says, “it knows of only six other copies” of “Liberty Triumphant,” and is starting bids at $15,000.

I found mention of copies in the collections of:
In addition, according to Colonial Williamsburg, the New-York Historical Society has a copy—but I couldn’t find it listed in the catalogue there. None on those copies is on the collectors’ market, of course.

COMING UP: Back to the New York Tea Party.


J. L. Bell said...

Peter Drummey at the Massachusetts Historical Society tells me its collection contains two copies of this engraving. Of course.

J. L. Bell said...

Heritage Auctions announced that the winning bid for its copy of this cartoon was $37,000.