Item No: pdcp00805
Title: Custom House. Late U. S. Bank
Historic Street Address:
420 Chestnut Street
Print and Picture Collection
John Caspar Wild (1804-1846)
Swiss-born and Paris-trained artist, John Caspar Wild moved to Philadelphia in 1832. He travelled around the city, creating watercolors of newly built and impressive buildings, using them as the basis for lithographic prints, which could be reproduced in great numbers. With his partner J. B. Chevalier he issued a series of 20 prints, released in monthly parts in 1938 as Views of Philadelphia and Its Vicinity.
Wild's prints were originally issued in parts - four prints each month for the first five months of 1838. The 20 plates were followed by the four panoramas from the State House steeple. This was followed by the second edition (still in 1838), which consisted of all 20 plates in one bound volume. "Poetical illustrations" of each image were written by Ezra Holden and Andrew McMakin, the proprietors of the Saturday Courier. Holden wrote the prose and McMakin wrote the poetry.
Not long after the Views of Philadelphia was published, Wild moved west to St. Louis and turned his focus to that city and the Mississippi Valley. The copyright and lithographic stones to view his Views of Philadelphia were bought by J. T. Bowen, who published another edition in 1838 and a new edition of the work with hand-colored plates in 1848. Wild died in Davenport, Iowa at the young age of 42.
In the earlier editions of Views of Philadelphia this building is called The United States Bank, Chestnut Street.
Of Penn's fair city thou the pride!
In grandeur rear'st thy classic form,
Firm as the mountain's base to 'bide
The peltings of earth's fiercest storm.
A sculptur'd rock by man hewn down;
A marble hill, all shap'd anew; -
Bold monument of wide renown,
Admir'd the wondering nation through.
See Prudence here, with frugal hand,
Her surplus stores safe treasure up,
Where Industry may free command,
And quaff from Plenty's flowing cup.
Within thine adamantine cells,
By art and handy-craft array'd, -
Of life the sweet enchanter dwells,
The soul of Commerce and of Trade.
-Andrew McMakin, Views of Philadelphia and Its Vicinity, 1838
Gift of Evan Randolph, 1960. Transferred from the Rare Book Department, 12/96.
Hand-colored lithograph, published in Philadelphia by J.T. Bowen, 1840.
Wild, J. C. (John Caspar), approximately 1804-1846 - Lithographer
Bowen, John T., approximately 1801-1856? - Lithographer