New York: H.R. Robinson, 1838. Lithograph, 12 1/2 x 20 inches. Light foxing and soiling. Two short closed tears in the right edge and left edge of the sheet. Very good. Item #WRCAM55549
A very rare print satirizing the recently undertaken United States Exploring Expedition commanded by Charles Wilkes. The Expedition departed in August 1838, and Robinson's eagerness to satirize it and the politicians who supported it is ample evidence that the endeavor was not universally popular. The print is made up of three humorous vignettes. "The upper left is Charles Wilkes in a rowboat with an oarsman and two members of the scientific corps who make observations with a transit or telescope and draw fauna. The upper right image depicts a group of sailors and Charles Wilkes, huddled together on the snow surrounded by a ring of polar bears and an upturned rowboat, foxes, penguins and a campfire. They are flying an inverted U.S. flag to signal distress. At the bottom, between the two titles is an inset of the three Navy Commissioners, Isaac Chaucey, Charles Morris, and Alexander S. Wadsworth at sea in a bowl. They are framed by a shield surmounted by a jester, and flanked on the left by a man in naval uniform (James Kirke Paulding, Secretary of the Navy) and a sailor with a sad expression on the right" - Harry T. Peters Collection at the Smithsonian Institution (online catalogue). The print is "Respectfully inscribed to the Secretaries of the Navy and Army, and the Board of Navy Commissioners, by their humble servant, Robinson Crusoe." Not in Reilly's catalogue of American political prints in the Library of Congress, though OCLC does locate a copy at the Library of Congress. That is one of two copies listed on OCLC, the other copy is at the American Antiquarian Society. There are also copies in the Peters collection at the Smithsonian, and at the Australian National Maritime Museum. OCLC 299947747, 752795742. Herman J. Viola, ed., MAGNIFICENT VOYAGERS, THE U.S. EXPLORING EXPEDITION, 1838-1842 (Washington, 1985), p.13.