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"Lithographed Printed & Published on the Night of the Fire"!

A superb bit of ephemeral printing, being a lithographed view of the Great Fire of 1834, which destroyed the British Houses of Parliament in London. The fire was caused by the improper burning of tally sticks in the furnaces of Parliament.

On the face of it, the print is not a triumph of artistry; it looks sketchy and rushed for a lithograph of the mid-1830s. However, this is easily explained by the imprint line, which declares "Lithographed Printed & Published on the Night of the Fire by Messrs. Clerk, 202 High Holborn." Clearly, the firm of Clerk rushed this lithograph into production on the night of the fire to capitalize on what was, at the time, the biggest story in the world.

The Clerks would issue other, much more finished, lithographs of the fire later, but those would not include the same printing-history relevance.

In many ways, this lithograph is redolent of the Frost Fair prints, the famous ephemeral woodcuts printed on the frozen Thames River as late as 1814.

The 1834 Fire was a popular subject for J.M.W. Turner, who turned out several excellent paintings of the scene.


We locate no other examples of this print nor any mention of it in searchable reference books.

Condition Description
Hand-colored lithograph on wove paper. Some early ink manuscript offsetting.