Whilst we tend to view satirical prints a valuable items which are to be individually collected, displayed, and considered in their own right, that’s not necessarily the way in which contemporary consumers would have approached them. The numerous references to caricatures being placed into albums, scrapbooks and folders, which we find in newspaper advertisement, diaries and publication lines of the period, suggests that satirical prints were typically acquired and viewed in multiples, with each print receiving perhaps only a moment’s consideration from the owner.
The loss of this collective view of satirical prints is in part due to the poor survival rate of contemporary caricature albums. As the scarcity and value of eighteenth-century prints has increased over time, albums have been broken up by successive generations of antiques dealers so that individual prints could be sold onto collectors at a higher price. It’s therefore always pleasing to come across a surviving album of caricatures which has survived completely intact.
These images are of an album which has recently surfaced on the market and will appear at auction in the UK in the next few weeks. The binding carries the armorial crest of the Marquess of Londonderry and contains 130 coloured prints by the likes of John Doyle and other prominent West End caricaturists of the 1830s.
The album carries an auctioneer’s estimate of £700 – £1,000, which is perhaps rather optimistic given the relative lack enthusiasm for Doyle’s works amongst many collectors. Whatever the outcome, let’s hope that this lovely item remains in one piece for a few more years to come.