Exhibit of 19th century newspaper engravings starts Dec. 4 at Birmingham Library

Exhibit of 19th century newspaper engravings starts Dec. 4 at Birmingham Library
The market in Mobile, a 19th century engraving by Charles Graham. (Birmingham Public Library Archives)

Before the 1890s, newspapers did not have the technology to reproduce photographs inexpensively. To provide illustrations for their readers, national and international papers including Harper’s Weekly, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and the Illustrated London News sent artists around the world to draw pictures that were then engraved onto copper plates and printed in the newspapers. Many of these artists visited Alabama.

“Alabama Illustrated: Engravings from 19th Century Newspapers” features 28 examples of their work. The exhibit, from the collections of the Birmingham Public Library Archives, will be on display at the Central Library beginning Monday, Dec. 4.

The exhibit, in the library’s fourth floor gallery, 2100 Park Place in downtown Birmingham, features images of Alabama people, places and events that appeared in national and international newspapers from the 1850s to the 1890s.

Library Archivist Jim Baggett will offer a free gallery tour at 3 p.m. on Dec. 10. Reservations are not required. An accompanying book, “Alabama Illustrated: Engravings from 19th Century Newspapers,” by James L. Baggett and Kelsey Scouten Bates, is available from Turner Publishing.

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