Lithotint print illustrating the 1841 Tower of London Fire, showing the Armoury, Great Britain's first museum. At the right, where Waterloo Block now stands is the brick-and-stone Grand Storehouse, 345 feet long and 60 feet broad. The ground floor housed the Train of Artillery, the first floor, the Small Armoury, and the top floor, tents and other military stores.
The Tower was closed to the public for five weeks and on reopening, burnt relics of the fire were offered for sale, priced from sixpence to fifteen shillings.
The present image was made with an unusual and seldom discussed printing medium called "lithotint'. This was a patented process that replicated the look of wash drawing but on a lithographic stone.
Developed by the English printmaker Charles Joseph Hullmandel, the invention and benefit of lithotint was described in the November 27th, 1841 issue of the Spectator newspaper: “instead of Indian ink, [the artist] dips his pencil in lithographic ink, laying the tints on stone instead of on paper; and by this simple change of materials, his first thoughts become capable of reproduction more than a thousandfold. ...lithography was only adapted to crayon or pen-drawing, the two slowest methods of art, and very rarely practiced by English artists of eminence. The painter had no means of reproducing a sepia drawing in which his own touch is preserved, until the invention of lithotint.”
An Improved History and Description of the Tower of London: Including a Particular Detail of Its Numerous Ans Interesting Curiosities: Illustrated with an Account of the Spanish Armada; a Brief History of the Kings of England ... Queen Anne Boleyn's Memorable Letter to Henry VIII. Queen Elizabeth's Brave Speech to Her Troops at Tribury Camp; &c. &c. United Kingdom: G. Brimmer, 1819.
Inventory and Survey of the Armouries of the Tower of London, by Charles J. Foulkes. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1916.