Kilburn proofs

Here is the first of several proofs from the wood engraving case of the mysterious Samuel Smith Kilburn. The blocks probably date from the third quarter of the 19th century, if indeed they are all his work.

The only reason I can make an attribution at all is thanks to this block:


The inclusion of Kilburn’s change of address block is significant indeed, and the style and craftsmanship of most of the other wood engravings suggests a masterful hand.

A very cursory internet search has yielded very little about Kilburn, but he does turn up, and many book collections both private and institutional, list his name as an illustrator and engraver for the book trade. I have found the name of at least one apprentice, and his given and middle name as well.

At some point I’m keen to take a trip to Boston, dip into the archives there and find more about Kilburn. Once I feel I’ve exhausted what is known about the man and his work, I’ll print a book about him using his surviving engravings. The portfolio in production now will be designed to showcase the engravings with a pamphlet showing how they came to light, and into the hands of a letterpress printer. I’ve decided to do an edition of 50, hoping that will not be too few. The plan is to have it done for the Grimsby Wayzgoose and start marketing it soon after.

Explore posts in the same categories: Block Printing, Wood Engraving

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