Akin, The Philosophic Cock - James Akin’s caricature, The Philosophic Cock, depicts Thomas Jefferson as a preening rooster, Sally Hemings is the hen.  The text from the first scene of Act 1 of Joseph Addison’s drama, Cato: “Tis not a set of features or complexion or tincture of a skin that I admire.” The prints of Akin (1773-1846), a Philadelphia engraver who moved in 1804 to Newburyport, Massachusetts, are scarce, if not unique. This caricature was found in an album assembled by the bookseller and printer Charles Peirce (1770-1851), of Portsmouth, N.H., following an English custom.  Peirce moved to Philadelphia and established himself as bookseller. He bequeathed the album to Harold Peirce (1856-1932), a successful businessman and book collector in that city. McCorison received this among other gifts from his descendants, Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong Hunter, of Weathersfield, Vermont. Hand-colored engraving with aquatint, 42 x 33.5 cm. Gift of the Heirs of Harold Peirce, 1991.         

The prints were disbound and conserved by the Society in 1992. Alison Stagg, a 2009 Jay and Deborah Last Fellow studying American political caricatures, discovered that Peirce bound the caricatures in early 1807 announcing in the Portsmouth Oracle that a book of caricatures was available for hire.  Jaclyn Penny created the illustrated box list.

 

The Amerian Antiquarian Society, 1812-2012 - A View at the Bicentennial
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