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How to identify different Lithograph Editions


The original lithographs were issued in two different versions: the Royal Subscription Edition (RSE) or the First Edition/Standard Edition (SE). They were both produced from the same stones but the RSE was printed on a thinner ‘India’ paper and the SE on a heavier paper that included a margin all around the image along with a publisher inscription at the bottom and also a title for the lithograph below this. The RSE lithographs were then hand-coloured by Louis Haghe’s studio assistants before being trimmed and mounted on to a thicker card. The SE lithographs were not hand-coloured originally, but many have been since. All original lithographs were produced between 1842 and 1849 and were printed in London by F.G. Moon.

The first lithographs were for the Holy Land series with a set of six finished works being released in April 1842. Whenever a set of six lithographs was completed these would be sent to the RSE subscribers with the text written for the publication (1) included on a separate mounted sheet. The SE lithographs included the text below the lithograph for half plate works and on the back of the same half plate the text would be included for the next full plate. Both the RSE and the SE were produced so that the purchaser could then bind the works themselves into a book format they were happy with. There were two original volumes for the Holy Land but the publisher F.G. Moon received feedback that these volumes were too heavy so the Egypt and Nubia set was produced in three volumes. Later the Holy Land was also split into three volumes with Petra having its own. Each volume had its own illustrated title page.

When Moon eventually went out of business the remaining unsold Roberts lithographs were auctioned off and the original stones used were destroyed. This has helped to create a significant demand for original RSE or SE lithographs as they are in short supply. There were three hundred and ninety-three subscribers for the RSE, although it is difficult to ascertain exactly how many extra copies were made for this series. There were certainly under five hundred copies of each lithograph from the RSE produced. The SE had a larger circulation and estimates suggest that between five hundred and one thousand five hundred copies of each lithograph were made.




(1) Rev. George Croley wrote the text for the Holy Land and William Brockedon for Egypt and Nubia.

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