1856 Batchelder / Bufford Bird's-Eye View of Brattleboro, Vermont

Brattleboro Vt. - Main View

1856 Batchelder / Bufford Bird's-Eye View of Brattleboro, Vermont


Brattleboro by one of the Great American viewmakers.


Brattleboro Vt.
  1856 (dated)     20.75 x 28.75 in (52.705 x 73.025 cm)


A striking 1856 Batchelder (Bachelder) / Bufford two-color chromolithograph bird's-eye view map of Brattleboro, Vermont. The view looks east on Brattleboro from Wantastiquet Mountain, just across the Connecticut River in New Hampshire. The Green Mountains rise in the background, while in the foreground, a hunter on Wantastiquet Mountain looks for game. Brattleboro occupies the center, with important buildings, including churches, state buildings, and notable businesses, labeled below the view. There are several covered bridges, for which Vermont remains famous, servicing both roads and the railroad. Here, the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad, which reached Brattleboro in 1849, steams into town.
Island Park
Island Park, the large island in the Connecticut River, fills much of the foreground. Located between Brattleboro, VT, and Hinsdale, NH, Island Park was a 22 acre island near the mouth of Whetstone Brook. It was an ideal connection point between the two cities, and, in 1804, the two covered bridges shown here, were constructed by a private investment concern - thus establishing a profitable east-west trade corridor. The rest of the island, as here, was dedicated pasturage. A flood just a few years after this view was issued, devastated the island, leaving just 8 acres of land. In the 1880s it became the site of a brewery and saloon. Being technically in New Hampshire, although physically closer to Brattleboro, the brewery flew in the face of Vermont's Temperance laws - and was considered a den of vice.
American Bird's-Eye City Views
The tradition of the bird's-eye city view emerged in the United States in the middle part of the 19th century and coincided with the commercial development of lithographic printing. While before the rise of lithography, the ability to own and display artwork in the home was largely limited to the extremely wealthy, lithographic printing made it possible for everyone to own visually striking artwork. A robust trade developed in portraits of political leaders, allegorical and religious images, and city views.

City views were being produced in the United States as early as the 1830s, but the genre exploded after the American Civil War (1861 - 1865). Bridging the gap between maps and pictures, most 19th century American Bird's-eye views presented cities to the public high vantage points. Some were imagined, but others were drawn from hot-air balloons or nearby hills. The presentation, combining high elevation, commercial interest, and new printing technology created a uniquely American art form, as described by historian Donald Karshan,
Some print connoisseurs believe that it was only with the advent of the full-blown city-view lithograph that American printmaking reached its first plateau of originality, making a historical contribution to the graphic arts. They cite the differences between the European city-view prints and the expansive American version that reflects a new land and a new attitude toward the land.
The vogue for bird's-eye city views lasted from about 1845 to 1920, during which period some 2,400 cities were thus portrayed, some multiple times. Although views were produced in many urban centers, the nexus of view production in the United States was Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The major American viewmakers were Stoner, Wellge, Bailey, Fowler, Hill, Ruger, Koch, Burleigh, Norris, and Morse, among others.
Chromolithography is a color lithographic technique developed in the mid-19th century. The process involved using multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, to yield a rich composite effect. Oftentimes, the process would start with a black basecoat upon which subsequent colors were layered. Some chromolithographs used 30 or more separate lithographic stones to achieve the desired product. Chromolithograph color could also be effectively blended for even more dramatic results. The process became extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it emerged as the dominate method of color printing. The vivid color chromolithography produced made it exceptionally effective for advertising and propaganda imagery.
Publication History and Census
This view was drawn by John Bachelder (here his name is alternately spelled as 'Batchelder', an affectation he later dropped) and published by John H. Bufford of Boston in 1856. It is based on an ambrotype photograph produced by John Lyman Lovell, whose imprint is just barely visible in the lower left. Deák notes only one example, at the New York Public Library. We note an additional example at the Boston Atheneum and a third in private hands.


John Badger Bachelder (September 29, 1825 – December 22, 1894), also spelled Batchelder, was an American portraitist, landscape artist, lithographer, cartographer, and photographer. In his life he was best known as the preeminent expert on the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, of which he produced the most iconic representation. Bachelder was born in Gilmantown, New Hampshire and was educated at Captain Alden Partridge's Military School in Pembroke. Upon graduating he relocated to Reading, Pennsylvania, where he took a position at the Pennsylvania Military Institute. He became the head of that institution in 1851. In 1852 he was appointed colonel of the Pennsylvania State Militia. Around 1853 Bachelder returned to New Hampshire to pursue a career as an artist, publishing various views of New England towns; 1854 found him living and working in Manchester, and perhaps this is what led him to produce four views of the city - more than any other place he depicted in print. Bachelder's military training influenced his art materially and he developed a lifelong interest in depicting the dynamics of great battles on canvas. When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, Bachelder was working on a view of the Revolutionary War battle of Bunker Hill. From his work on the Bunker Hill view, Bachelder noted how difficult it was to reconstruct a battle long after the events when most major participants had passed on. He saw an opportunity in the outbreak of the Civil War and attached himself to the Union Army of the Potomac in the hopes of being present at a major battle. He was welcomed on the battlefield, where his accurate drawings helped the generals to better understand the conflicts in question. His most significant work his an impressive bird's-eye view of the Battle of Gettysburg. Though not present at the battle, he was there day's after, and claims to have interviewed the commanders of every regiment and battery in the Army of the Potomac, as well as thousands of wounded soldiers on both sides of the conflict. His work was so precise and significant he was commended to President Lincoln and later took a position as Superintendent of Tablets and Legends for the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association. He is responsible for the monuments and battlefield markers, both Union and Confederate, that can still be noted today at Gettysburg. He also organized reunions and battlefield tours. Bachelder died of Pneumonia in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, in 1894. He is interred in his family plot in Nottingham, New Hampshire. More by this mapmaker...

John Henry Bufford (July 27, 1810 - October 8, 1870) was a Boston based lithographer and printer. Bufford was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He apprenticed as an artist and lithographer at Pendleton Lithography (1825 - 1836) of Boston. In 1835 he relocated to New York where he took independent commissions from George Endicott and Nathaniel Currier, among others. Returning to his hometown of Boston in 1839, he took a position of chief artist with the firm of Benjamin W. Thayer, heir to Pendleton Lithography. He probably married Thayer's sister, Anna Melora Tufts Thayer (1808-1878). Bufford has been highly criticized as an engraver, with one historian, David Tatham, stating he had 'a mediocre sort of craftsmanship at best' and 'no very special skills as an original artist.' We, however, find no justification for this harsh criticism. Instead Bufford gravitated toward business and management. By 1844 Thayer's shop was renamed J. H. Bufford and Company. The firm specialized in decorative sheet music, panoramic views, illustrations for books, retractions of paintings, and commercial printing. Bufford is credited with being one of the first employers and mentors of the important artist and engraver Winslow Homer. Bufford died in 1870, passing on the business to his sons Frank G. Bufford and John Henry Bufford Jr. These young men, operating under the imprint of 'J.H. Bufford's Sons, Manufacturing Publishers of Novelties in Fine Arts', expanded the firm with offices in New York and Chicago. A possibly related lithographic printing firm named Bufford Chandler was incorporated in Boston in 1893. It later relocated to Concord, New Hampshire but closed in 1925 when its state business charter was repealed. Learn More...

John Lyman Lovell (December 17, 1825 - December 3, 1903) was an American artist and photographer. Lovell was born in Holden, Massachusetts. He studied at Amherst College where he was the 'Class Photographer'. Afterwards, he lived with his family near Brattleboro, Vermont. Later he relocated to Newport, New Hampshire. His work on Amherst, entitled the 'Amherst Picture Gallery' was the first in Hampshire County. His work was featured in exhibitions at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec and the Galerie Roger Bellemare. Lovell died in Newport, New Hampshire. Learn More...


Very good. Minor edge wear. Minor fox mark at center.


Reps, John, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America (University of Missouri, Columbia, 1984), #4043.