“View of Lexington, VA / The Military Institute and Washington College
Published by C. Bohn, Washington, D. C.”
“Drawn from Nature & Printed in colors by E. Sachse & Co.”
“Entered according to the Act of Congress in the year 1857 by Casimir Bohn in the Clerk’s Office in the District Court at the District of Columbia.”
“Sun Iron Building, Baltimore, MD.”
Chromolithograph ~ 31.5” x 22”
This skillfully executed color lithograph is an early and extremely rare view of the town of Lexington in Rockbridge County in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley presented in a panoramic, “bird’s eye” format. Probably printed in a very small original edition, the only other copy of this print which could be located in a public institution is in the collection of Washington and Lee University. Another print of the “Military Institute”, which shows little of the town of Lexington, is also rare but several copies are known. Given the size of Lexington – only about 1700 total residents in 1850 – and the small student bodies at Washington College and the Military Institute, the publisher would have likely printed only a relatively small number of prints anticipating limited sales and limited appeal beyond Lexington.
The artist Edward Sachse (1804-1873) completed his views of three Virginia towns – Fredericksburg, Charlottesville and Lexington during 1856/57. These lithographic views were printed by the Baltimore firm of E.Sachse & Co. (Bohn was credited with the sketches in Rockbridge Artists and Artisans but it is more likely that his role was as the publisher.) In Baltimore Sachse put the drawings on stone with great skill producing “large and attractive views that are splendid examples of color lithography. (Views and Viewmakers of Urban America, John W. Reps, p. 204-206) Bohn (or possibly Sachse) returned to Lexington in the summer of 1857 where he advertised that he was selling copies at the Lexington Hotel for $5 each. The Lexington Gazette noted that the view was “a fair representation of what it purports to be and gives us a very just idea of the appearance of our village. It is a handsome picture, well executed, and exhibits many marks of unmistakable taste and skill.” (The Architecture of Historic Lexington, Lyle and Simpson)
Sachse produced a view of the University of Virginia, views of the City of Washington, landmarks of Richmond and other Virginia cities, multiple views of Baltimore and a variety of other urban views. The firm produced some sixty lithographic city views with approximately half depicting Baltimore or Washington, D.C.