Panorama of Australia and America. With Nearly 6500 Feet of Transparent Scenery. By a Returned Emigrant…

Panorama of Australia and America…
Panorama of Australia and America. With Nearly 6500 Feet of Transparent Scenery. By a Returned Emigrant…

England: 1851.

Broadside, halved at central rule to form two sheets measuring 330 x 255 mm. & 330 x 260 mm., illustrated with four dramatic woodcut scenes.

"Positively for 2 nights only"

Rare and significant broadside advertising a panoramic lecture show on the Australian colonies that toured England in 1850 and 1851. The panoramic spectacle and accompanying lecture were the work of James Brice (fl. 1840s), a some-time South Australian resident who returned to England to promote emigration and investment with this novel and spectacular moving panorama, painted by the artists of the Polytechnic Institute of London.

Rare and significant broadside advertising a panoramic lecture show on the Australian colonies that toured England in 1850 and 1851. The panoramic spectacle and accompanying lecture were the work of James Brice (fl. 1840s), a some-time South Australian resident who returned to England to promote emigration and investment with this novel and spectacular moving panorama, painted by the artists of the Polytechnic Institute of London.

And what a spectacle it must have been! The detailed notes on this broadside describe some eighty scenes covering 6,500 feet of material, illustrating the social landscape of Australia in the mid nineteenth-century. Brice clearly sought to satisfy public interest in the Aborigines - the broadside lists at least nine native scenes, some sympathetic to their cause including "Their wrongs at the hands of white men" and "The rifle and the poisoned damper, or bread." Other striking scenes listed on the broadside include Wreck Reef 'with the tents of the shipwrecked crew', the sperm whale fishery, sheep farming, the Burra copper mine near Adelaide and Sydney harbour. A small proportion of the scenes relate to North America while the broadside actively promotes female emigration to Australia due to the 'scarcity of females, high wages, wealthy bachelors, short courtships' and 'servants turned ladies.'

Easily the most arresting aspect of this broadside is the series of four woodblock prints, including a hunting scene with kangaroo; a dramatic rendering of an aboriginal attack on a homestead; two despondent settlers in the bush (the aftermath of the attack?); and a last scene of a successful settler standing proudly before his house.

At some point our broadside had been neatly cut in two, and has also been clipped with a small loss of text at the top-edge, including the details of this particular show (although the date of November 14-15 can be determined from the remnant lettering). Significantly, we have located only two other examples in Australian institutions, each with a different date and location to the broadside here offered. The National Library copy was printed for the performance at Salisbury on 19-20 February 1851 and a second copy in the State Library of South Australia issued for the show at Bury, St. Edmonds on the 4-5 March 1850. Press reviews printed on the margins indicate a further five performances; at Reading, Monmouth, Bedford, Scarborough and Falmouth. With evidence of at least eight performances over a period of 21 months, the dioramic spectacle was clearly a success: one press review states that the audience exceeded 2,000 people, a good example of English public interest in Australia on the eve of the gold rush.

Little is known about Brice, although he was the author of the pragmatically titled emigrants guide South Australia as it is: How to get to it and what to do when there (Bristol, 1848). The provincial imprint might suggest that he originally haled from the west.

Price (AUD): $4,200.00  other currencies     Ref: #3910334

Condition Report