Monday, January 9, 2012

Anthropomorphic Alphabet

Louis Xavier Magny (born c. 1800 in Avignon, France) was a prominent antebellum New Orleans lithographer who frequently produced cartographic prints for local auction sales.  The Southeastern Architectural Archive has two such auction maps -- printed for auctioneer Norbert Vignie -- each of which features different letter forms.

The lettering reproduced above was printed for the December 1854 auction of the Third District properties of the late Louisiana Supreme Court Justice, François-Xavier Martin (1762 - 1846).  Some of the letter forms characterize episodes from Martin's life, for he had been one of the Vice Presidents of the Louisiana State Temperance Society and had briefly served in the Continental Army of Virginia.

To read more about antebellum lithography in New Orleans, see Priscilla Lawrence's "A New Plane: Pre-Civil War Lithography in New Orleans," chap. in Printmaking in New Orleans, edited by Jessie J. Poesch (Jackson, MS: U Press of Mississippi, 2006), pp. 117-134.

To read more about Judge Martin, see Charles Étienne Gayarré's "The Old Chief Justice and His Black Servant, Tom" in Fernando De Lemos: Truth and Fiction, a Novel (New York: Carleton, 1872), pp. 243-256, and Michael Chiorazzi's "Francois-Xavier Martin: Printer, Lawyer, Jurist," a paper delivered at the 80th  Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries (7 July 1987), as presented at:

Image above:  Detail, X. Magny, printer, 117 Exchange Alley. 35 Lots of Ground at Gentilly Being Part of the Property of the Late Judge Martin.  New Orleans:  December 1854.  Guy Seghers Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division,Tulane University Libraries.

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