1770 Sayer / Hancock View of Niagara Falls

The Waterfall of Niagara... - Main View

1770 Sayer / Hancock View of Niagara Falls


Foaming as white as milk and all in motion like a boiling cauldron.


The Waterfall of Niagara...
  1770 (undated)     10 x 15.25 in (25.4 x 38.735 cm)


An intricately engraved and colorful c. 1770 depiction of Niagara Falls, engraved by Robert Hancock and published by Robert Sayer. It is accompanied by text in French and English discussing the features and natural beauty of the falls.
A Closer Look
Although not an exact representation of the falls, this view is presumably oriented towards the southwest. Goat Island sits in the middle, between American Falls and Horseshoe Falls. A group of Native American and European figures stand and converse at left in the foreground, one of whom is likely meant to be Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan missionary whose account of the falls helped to spur interest in them in the late 17th century. Another group of Native Americans carries rocks or sacks down a path at right.
Publication History and Census
This print was engraved by Robert Hancock and published by Robert Sayer in London. It is dated from anywhere between 1750 to 1794. It is inspired by Louis Hennepin's 1677 sketch of Niagara Falls ('Chute d'eau de Niagara'), which was published in accounts of his travels in New France in the 1680s - 1690s.


Robert Sayer (1725 - January 29, 1794) was an important English map publisher and engraver active from the mid to late 18th century. Sayer was born in Sunderland, England, in 1725. He may have clerked as a young man with the Bank of England, but this is unclear. His brother, James Sayer, married Mary Overton, daughter-in-law of John Overton and widow of Philip Overton. Sayer initially worked under Mary Overton, but by December of 1748 was managing the Overton enterprise and gradually took it over, transitioning the plates to his own name. When Thomas Jefferys went bankrupt in 1766, Sayer offered financial assistance to help him stay in business and, in this way, acquired rights to many of the important Jefferys map plates as well as his unpublished research. From about 1774, he began publishing with his apprentice, John Bennett (fl. 1770 - 1784), as Sayer and Bennett, but the partnership was not formalized until 1777. Bennett retired in 1784 following a mental collapse and the imprint reverted to Robert Sayer. From 1790, Sayer added Robert Laurie and James Whittle to his enterprise, renaming the firm Robert Sayer and Company. Ultimately, Laurie and Whittle partnered to take over his firm. Sayer retired to Bath, where, after a long illness, he died. During most of his career, Sayer was based at 53 Fleet Street, London. His work is particularly significant for its publication of many British maps relating to the American Revolutionary War. Unlike many map makers of his generation, Sayer was a good businessman and left a personal fortune and great estate to his son, James Sayer, who never worked in the publishing business. More by this mapmaker...

Robert Hancock (1730 - 1817) was an English engraver and artist. Born in Staffordshire, he studied under Simon Fran├žois Ravenet, and worked at the Battersea Enamel Works under Stephen Theodore Janssen. He then became draughtsman and engraver to the Worcester Porcelain Works, where he became known as a pioneer in engraving plates for transfer-printed porcelain. He then moved to the Worcester works and then the Staffordshire Potteries. In the latter part of his career, he focused on engraving in mezzotint. Valentine Green and James Ross the line-engraver were his pupils. Learn More...


Very good. Some toning and offsetting in the margins.


OCLC 70854388.