Boston Light in 1789

J. Edes del. / S. Hill, engraver / Engraved for the Massachusetts Magazine, A South West View of the LIGHTHOUSE situate at the Entrance of BOSTON Harbour[Boston, February 1789.]
Engraving, 4 ¼”h x 7 1/4”w plus title and margins, uncolored.

A scarce view of Boston Light, one of the few obtainable 18th-century views of an American lighthouse.  The original Boston Light was built in 1716 on Little Brewster Island at the entrance to Boston Harbor. It was the first lighthouse built within the future United States, but was destroyed by the British as they evacuated the town in March 1776. The Bostonians subsequently rebuilt it and placed it back in service in 1783, though they ceded it to the new Federal Government in 1790. Today it is the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the country.

Based on a drawing by one J. Edges, the image was engraved by Samuel Hill (ca. 1765-1809) was active in Boston from at least 1789 into the first decade of the 18th century. He produced portrait engravings and illustrations, including many for the Massachusetts Magazine. He is perhaps best remembered to map collectors as the engraver of the Boston edition of the “Ellicott Plan” of Washington, D.C. and (with Joseph Callender) the second edition of Osgood Carleton’s seminal map of Massachusetts.

Lewis, A Guide to Engravings in American Magazines, p. 9.  Stauffer, American Engravers Upon Copper and Steel, #1393.


Few small areas of foxing, largely confined to margins.