Old Philadelphia:
Prints and watercolors by Frank H. Taylor (1846-1927)
page 2:

Fig. 2.1. Title sheet and plate 23, "Where William Penn Landed" from Frank H. Taylor, Ever-Changing Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1915). The print's title is faintly visible in gray at the lower left corner of the gray backing card. The captions were gathered together on typeset pages following the title page.

Series and Lists
: Taylor first embarked on this set of large-scale prints with the publication in 1915 of a portfolio of 24 photolithographs of his own drawings under the title Ever-Changing Philadelphia (fig. 2.1).

Each plate in this initial series was placed on a gray backing card with a short title imprinted along its lower edge, while descriptive captions of one to four paragraphs were assembled in series on pages of a large pamphlet bound with the title page. More than in the hundreds of prints to follow in the series, the choices of subject in this first set combined both contemporary and historical themes, from tall buildings in no. 11, "South Broad Sreet in 1915" or no. 1, a night view on election eve, to old brick houses on narrow streets such as no. 22, "Franklin's first home in Philadelphia."


Within the year Taylor had extended the series, now settling in on a format where thin slips with his commentaries were attached to each backing card in such a way that the slips could be exposed over the lower left corner of the print to be legible simultaneously, or could be left behind it to allow the print to be seen in full. He would keep to this format for the next dozen years, ultimately for more than 400 prints, but no one set encountered to date has been comprehensive, and some prints, mostly later ones (numbering after 392), were unaccompanied by their caption slips in more than one collection. Taylor dated a fair proportion of the original wash drawings that were photographed for the prints, positioning this or a source note next to his signature, usually at lower right. The inscribed dates indicate that by 1917 he was nearing 100 prints in the series, by 1919 had passed 200, by 1923 had passed 300, and by 1925 was passing 400.

Numbered sales lists issued at different points in the 1910s and 1920s also track the progress of the series. An early one was a small pamphlet of eight pages from about 1916 that offered 78 prints, those beyond no. 24 identified as the "second series" (fig. 2.2). This still bore the original title (without the dash), and it described the series as "An Interesting Series of Art Reproductions from Drawings by Frank H. Taylor, Depicting Old Structures of Historic Value." Each title in the list was accompanied by two or three lines of abbreviated commentary, something dropped when the lists got longer. In this case James W. Nagle of 726 West Norris Street would show and sell these, but later lists, some identical to one another in their offerings, identify a handful of other venues where the prints could be acquired.

A list of 248 prints offered by J. E. McClees at 1507 Walnut St. from about 1921 retains the early title and outlines the terms: single prints measuring 7 x 10 inches, printed on heavy art paper, mounted on a backing card, and "described on a suitable label," would sell for $2.50. For five or more prints, the price dropped to two dollars each, and a selection of 24 gathered "in a substantial portfolio" would sell for $48.00. A single-line list followed, but already with gaps that persisted on later lists, as if certain numbers were discontinued.

It was probably shortly after, about 1922, that another list (fig. 2.3) appeared, now with 266 prints and the new title that these would bear till the last: "Old Philadelphia, A Series of Reproductions from Drawings by Frank H. Taylor, 4819 Springfield Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa., Depicting Old Structures and Scenes of Historic Interest." This list, typeset similarly but now on longer folded pages, was offered in versions that differed only in sales venue given on the first page. One encounters versions naming the shop of McClees, of Harry T. Harper of 35 South 18th St., or of Charles Sessler at 1314 Walnut St.

There are some minor changes: the prints are now described as measuring 12 by 15 inches; indeed, although in certain collections many prints have been detached from their backing and trimmed or matted, all those seen to date appear to have been issued on sheets of this size mounted on gray 14 by 17-inch backing cards. Perhaps the smaller dimensions of 7 x 10 and 8 x 10 inches cited in earlier lists were meant to describe just the size of the image. Also, the proferred portfolios now consisted of 25 prints rather than 24. This portfolio form is that in which one finds the largest collections of the prints, at the Free Library and the Library Company, with the mounted prints gathered -- sometimes by number and sometimes by theme -- between joined canvas-covered boards with flaps and ties.

Taylor apparently kept very busy over the next few years, and in 1925, it seems, he issued a list that reached to number 406, this naming the shop of J. E. Barr & Co. at 1109 Walnut Street. It was otherwise mostly identical to the previous versions, but it did add one provision that might explain some later images: "Special drawings will be made of old structures for those interested."


Fig. 2.2. Cover and last page of Nagle list of Taylor prints no. 1 to 78 for sale, c. 1916.

Fig. 2.3. Sales list of 266 Taylor prints by Harry T. Harper, c. 1922, detail of first page.

A final list, also in much the same format, followed Taylor's death in May 1927. On Friday, 14 October, an "executors public sale" (fig. 2.4) was staged at the Philadelphia Sketch Club on Camac Street, an organization in which Taylor had been a leader and long-standing member. This list gave a more extended enumeration than others, if still with some gaps, and it included three categories: in addition to Taylor's prints, now up to number 413, many offered in multiple copies, it also inventoried about 200 single "original drawings," presumably ink-wash drawings, and some 22 "drawings colored by Mr. Taylor."

Fig. 2.4. Sales list from Executors' Sale of Taylor prints and drawings, 1927, detail of first page.

The executors assigned numbers up to 460 for different items in the sale, using the later ones for drawings they did not match to prints, and occasionally letters a or b for some apparent variants or component drawings. There are a few numerical snags, including some used twice, and they failed to recognize the subjects of some items, but the numbering of the prints to no. 413 almost completely aligns with Taylor's own. Recurring lacunae in the various collections and lists remain for a handful of print numbers -- 203 and 398-401. This brings the present total of seen or topically identified "Old Philadelphia" prints to about 408. Of these, though, about ten have not yet been encountered as prints, just as subjects or titles supplied from sale lists or inventories, or as a wash drawing almost certainly prepared for a print. Aside from some numbers for which we have no data, the prints as yet unseen appear to be:

  • 102. Home of Governor Jennings at Burlington
    [Barr list, c. 1925]
  • 103. Grave of Walt. Whitman
    [Barr list, c. 1925]
  • 147. Kugler's on the Delaware
    [Barr list, c. 1925]
  • 198. Haunts of old lawyers, Walnut Street
    [McClees list, c. 1921]
  • 217. Map of Hamilton Village
    [per 1927 FLP typescript]
  • 344. McCall House, Second and Union Streets
    [Barr list, c. 1925]
  • 382. Christ Church
    [Barr list, c. 1925]
  • 393. Monday Morning
    [Barr list, c. 1925]
  • [395?]. Home of the Colonial Dames
    [=394 on Barr list, c. 1925]
  • 396. The Provision District.
    [Barr list, c. 1925]

One expects that of some these gaps will eventually be filled as more collections are explored. And there is a pair of wash drawings that was offered at Freeman's, identified as x01 and x02 on our list of originals and as numbers 448 and 453 on the executors' list, the that do not bear numbers of connected prints or seem to have been identified by title in the print lists.

More on originals and versions follows on p. 3.


fht2.html; last rev.= 20 Jan. 09 jc; links to [print list w/ expl] [list of origs] [p. 1, intro] [p. 2: Series and Lists], [p. 3: Originals and Versions] [p. 4: Special Artist, Phila Publs, Newspapers], [p. 5: Notations and networks, Castner, WPh] [return buttons: Places in Time]