The Pedlar and his Pack or the Desperate Effort, an Over Balance
(Philadelphia): (1828). Oblong folio. 258 x 380 mm. (10 x 15 inches). Etching decorated with blue, green, brown and red watercolor, and a yellow border. Small tear to upper right corner minor discoloration, otherwise in very good condition.
Born in South Carolina, James Akin (1773-1846) migrated north to Philadelphia in the mid-1790'S and immediately began producing images and cartoons in a satirical style. He moved to Newburyport, MA for a couple of years but returned to Philadelphia where he spent the remainder of his career. He was skilled in the arts of fine line engraving, relief cutting, and lithography and when business was slow, he acted as an apothecary, print seller, and restauranteur. He was straight out of the school of James Gillray but his wit and his skills as a printmaker distinguished him from many of his contemporaries who were satisfied to simply copy the work of the English master.
"Whether in his fine line engraving or in his etched or lithographic cartoons and caricatures, Akin, who arrived on the professional scene during the height of England's golden age of caricature, inescapably mirrored his English counterpart. He excelled in cartoons and caricature, where his genius of wit and inventive satire are manifest" (Quimby).
The copy of Pedlar and his Pack in the collection at the Library of Congress is described in the following manner: "Pro-Jackson cartoon satirizing the negative impact of the 'coffin handbills' on the presidential campaign of incumbent John Quincy Adams. The handbills, published by Adams supporter, editor John Binns, accused Andrew Jackson of excessive brutality during the War of 1812, specifically his execution of eight militiamen accused of desertion. Depicts Binns weighed down by coffins; Secretary of State Henry Clay; and Adams, who holds the presidential chair. A faint Binns pleads for monetary assistance to manage the weight and a compromised Clay urges a stubborn Adams - who alludes to the unpopular 1826 economic Congress of Panama - to hold on, despite popular opposition" (Reilly).
Pedlar and his Pack is an early example of Akin's political caricature. Most of his most influential work was produced in the 1830’s during the Jackson administration.
Although not a particularly rare print, this copy is hand colored (many are not) and with faults is quite a good copy.
Peters, American on Stone, p. 73-74. Reilly, American Political Prints, 1828-3. Maureen O'Brien Quimby, "The Political Art of James Akin." Winterthur Portfolio, vol., 7, 1972, pp. 59-112. (http:www:jstor.org/stable.1180534). See also the “Common Place Archive” for a well-illustrated article by Allison Stagg on Akin's Newburyport years (www.common-place-archives.org/vol-10/no-02/lessons/). Tatham, Prints and Printmakers, p. 92. (341). Item #341