A Rare Piece of Americana in Stunning Multi-Color Lithography
"Yaggy's Geographical Portfolio", Yaggy, Levi W.
Subject: Cartographic Miscellany
Period: 1893 (published)
Publication: Yaggy's Geographical Portfolio
Color: Printed Color
39.6 x 26.5 inches
100.6 x 67.3 cm
Originally issued as an educational aid, these charts are among the most distinctive and stunning comparative charts ever published. Unlike the smaller, simpler and more analytical comparative charts found in atlases, Yaggy's images present a living landscape set with an exaggerate scale which gives each a strange and other-worldly appearance. These are exquisite and scarce examples of multi-stone lithography with each stone carrying a different color ink to build up the image to a complex, beautiful image. We count at least six different colors and perhaps as many as eight. Yaggy wrote and published several books ranging from healthful living to ancient history culminating with large format anatomical and geographical studies intended for the classroom market.
This rare and complete portfolio contains a title page, 9 prints, and two moveable charts on heavy cardstock. The title page and 9 prints are each backed in original linen, and the prints and charts are still bound into the original wooden case, as issued. The nine chromolithographs and charts are (in order):
A. Geographical Definitions Illustrated. This sheet shows and names various geographic terms, such as harbor, sound, glacier, rapids, fissures, oasis, and many others.
B. Climatic Chart of the World, Showing the Distribution of the Human Race and the Animal & Vegetable Kingdoms. This is a world map on Mercator's Projection showing each continent's important animals and trees in full color. Below the map are five panels describing the human race as categorized at the time: Negro (Black); Indian (Red); Caucasian (White); Mongolian (Yellow); and Malayan (Brown). Each panel has four or five portraits, each in full costume and jewelry.
C. Artic Zone. This lithograph is a great image of Eskimos in the far north battling a polar bear from kayaks, the aurora borealis, and family life around igloos.
D. Tropical Zone. This litho shows the deep jungle in the foreground with wild cats, monkeys, snakes and several natives hunting. In the background is a village scene.
E. Temperate Zone. This is a scene of a typical Victorian-period city in the U.S. that shows many fine homes, churches, stone government buildings, the Capital building in Washington, D.C., ships in the harbor and more.
F. View of Nature in Ascending Regions. This shows the major mountain peaks from all continents (except Antarctica). Small mountaineering figures are used to indicate important ascents along with the date and explorer's name including Humboldt (1802), Boussingault & Hall (1831) and Gerard's climb of Hindu Koh in 1818. Of special interest is the depiction of the balloon ascents of Gay Lussac and Green. Volcanoes are shown with fire, smoke and magma flows. In the foreground, the elevation from major cities (including Denver) are given, with the vegetation and local crops.
G. Nature in Descending Regions. This sheet presents a myriad of marine life set among a scene of shallow habitats, deep submerged canyons, islands, a landmass with enormous mountains, and even a stray iceberg. The sea life are from the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The elevations are exaggerated giving a surreal feel to the image. The sheet shows a wonderful collection of marine life including blowfish, Pampano, shark, flying fish, sawfish, lobster, sponges, jellyfish, coral, a whale and many more.
H. Geological Chart. This chart shows the various geological eras as well as the various key events in each ear. In the sky are various types of clouds, which are named in a key at the bottom of the chart.
I. Topography of The United States of America. This topographical chart shows the contiguous US, with each of the states depicted in outline.
J. [Astronomical Chart]. This chart shows relative size of each of the 8 planets and their moons, as well as their relative distance from the sun. The large moveable piece at center is a north polar projection of the earth surrounded by the signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon.
K. The Earth's Orbit Showing Parallel Axes. This chart contains three diagrams showing the earth's orbit and rotation during various months of the year, the four seasons, and the ocean tides.
The wooden case is constructed of brown cloth over wood, with a front flap and the original metal clasp. The case contains metal hinges along both sides that allow the prints and charts to be displayed upright, along with metal clasps along the sides and top to assist in display. The two heavy cardstock charts include moveable discs of celluloid printed in color. This example was rescued from an old school house in Potter County, Pennsylvania.
Overall this is a good example of a piece of Americana that is rare to find complete in any condition. As it was used in the classroom, it was subject to heavy use. The chromolithographs are mostly in near fine condition, with vivid colors, minor marginal soiling, a crease in top left corner of each sheet, and a few short marginal tears. The title page and "Geographical Definitions" sheets have light soiling, primarily at top, and a chip at top left. The title page also has a tear at right that just enters image. The cardstock charts are in fair to poor condition, with moderate to heavy warping and soiling. The zodiac chart has several tears caused by the large moveable cardstock ring becoming dislodged, which now sits completely loose. The remaining moveable parts on both charts are still intact and usable, albeit somewhat stiff. The case is heavily worn and stained, slightly warped, and has a small hole at top left. The brown cloth has completely rubbed away or is torn in a few places. One of the wooden side pieces is almost completely loose and is only held in place by the metal hinge. Although the case is now very fragile, it seems to have protected the lithos quite well.