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Alexander Anderson Print Collection

Call Number

PR 216


1791-1907, inclusive


Anderson, Alexander, 1775-1870


2.6 Linear feet (4 boxes, 1 drawer)

Language of Materials

This collection is primarily visual. Any text is likely to be in English or another European language.


Most of the collection consists of works by Anderson, 1791-1864; there are also some scrapbooks kept by members of Anderson's family with examples of his wood engravings pasted in, engravings by his daughter, Ann Anderson Maverick, and some miscellaneous documentation. Apart from the scrapbooks, the bulk of the collection is wood engravings after scenes by European artists, trade cards, book illustrations, vignette engravings, and medical engravings.

Biographical Note

Alexander Anderson was born in New York City on April 21, 1775. His father John Anderson was a printer. Alexander Anderson learned the art of engraving at a young age, and by 1797 he became one of the first Americans to undertake the practice of engraving on the end-grain of wood.

Anderson showed an early interest in medical drawings, and was apprenticed to a doctor at age fourteen. Subsequently, Anderson attended Columbia College to study medicine; he paid for his classes largely by selling engravings, which he made in his spare time. After graduating, he briefly practiced medicine, but became disenchanted with the profession. Anderson turned to engraving full time in 1798. For a short time he ran a store in which only children's books were sold, the first such specialized store in America. Anderson's engravings illustrated many books sold in New York, primarily American editions of English works.

After his first wife Ann and infant son died of yellow fever in 1798, Anderson was married to Jane Van Vleck in 1800. Together they had six children: John, Emmeline (later Mrs. Maibe), Ann (later Mrs. Andrew Maverick), Julia (later Mrs. Vincent M. Halsey), Mary (later Mrs. Skillman), and Jane (later Mrs. Edwin Lewis).

Anderson died on January 17, 1870.

Source: Pomeroy, Jane, Alexander Anderson's Life and Engravings, with a Checklist of Publications drawn from His Diary (Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1990).


The collection is organized in four series:

Series I. Works by Anderson
Series II. Scrapbooks of Anderson's Work
Series III. Works by Others
Series IV. Documentation

Scope and Contents

The Alexander Anderson Print Collection spans the period from 1791 to the 1860s and primarily contains works by Anderson. The bulk of the collection is wood engravings after scenes by European artists, trade cards, vignette engravings, medical engravings, and scrapbooks kept by Anderson's family members with examples of his wood engravings pasted in. Some material is quite small, so the engravings have generally been separated by size. The collection includes several pen and ink drawings, as well as some watercolors, by Anderson. The collection is arranged in four series: Works by Anderson; Scrapbooks of Anderson's Work; Works by Others; and Documentation.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Alexander Anderson Print Collection, PR 216, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection is composed of multiple gifts. Much of the material was a gift of Daniel Parish in 1912.

Related Materials

Three hundred and seventy eight original woodblocks engraved by Anderson are in the Printing Plate File (PR 057). Several engravings by Anderson, including a unique 1800 print, "Wheel of Fortune," are in the Issachar Cozzens Portfolio Print Collection (PR 145). A broadside featuring an image Anderson engraved in 1793 for the American Museum is in the N-YHS Library. The N-YHS Manuscripts Department holds a collection of Anderson's papers.

Collection processed by

Jenny Gotwals

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:47:40 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from anderson.xml


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024