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Made For Sale in the Farsi Speaking World

Scarce 18th Century view of the Custom House in Dublin from the other side of the River Liffey, with extra overprinting (and and manuscript additions) in Farsi.

The figures in the foreground on the quay side include two men fishing, a man training a horse, and a coach; ships on the water and Essex Bridge (now Grattan Bridge) over the river to the right.

The present example has a watercolor and ink border (as shown in pink and black), with extensive notes in Farsi on the front and back.  There is also an inscription in Farsi written on the linen on the verso.

The lower inscription appears to be lithographed (crudely, there are mistakes and something crossed out). The inscription above is  manuscript and  looks contemporary to the print.

The upper inscription gives the publishing information (rough translation reads: this was printed by the publishers in Dublin in Ireland), and the larger inscription along the lower edge gives a description of the image (rough translation: This house [place] is a real view of Dublin and the bridge has the name of Essex).


Condition Description
Laid on linen.
Robert Sayer Biography

Robert Sayer (ca. 1724-1794) was a prominent London map publisher. Robert’s father was a lawyer, but his older brother married Mary Overton, the widow of prominent mapmaker Philip Overton and the proprietor of his shop after his death. Mary continued the business for roughly a year after her marriage and then, in early 1748, it passed to Robert. Robert became a freeman of the Stationers’ Company later that year; his first advertisement as an independent publisher was released in December.

Sayer benefited from Overton’s considerable stock, which included the plates of John Senex. In the 1750s, Sayer specialized in design books and topographical prints, as well as comic mezzotints. In 1753, he, along with John Roque, published a new edition of Thomas Read’s Small British Atlas, the first of several county atlases that Sayer would publish.  

Sayer’s business continued to grow. In 1760 he moved further down Fleet Street to larger premises at 53 Fleet Street. In 1766, he acquired Thomas Jefferys’ stock when the latter went bankrupt. In 1774, he entered into a partnership with John Bennett, his former apprentice. The pair specialized in American atlases, based on the work of Jefferys. They also began publishing navigational charts in the 1780s and quickly became the largest supplier of British charts in the trade.

Bennett’s mental health declined, and the partnership ended in 1784. As Sayer aged, he relied on his employees Robert Laurie and James Whittle, who eventually succeeded him. He spent more and more time at his house in Richmond. In 1794, he died in Bath.