Objects from the Collection:
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pitcher 26.34 pitcher 37.454.77
pitcher 26.34 pitcher 84.46.2
plate 37.454.128 plate 37.454.97
plate 82.22.1 bowl 84.46.1


This whiteware plate features a brown transfer print design of the Erie Canal at Buffalo. This same transfer print design, with its lace border, was also produced in black, lavender, and pink. There is a printed maker's mark on the bottom of this plate which reads "Erie Canal at Buffalo Lace Border R.S."

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Plate (MC 628, Acc. No. 37.454.128)
Produced in Cobridge, Staffordshire, England, by Ralph Stevenson, c. 1830.
10.0" (25.4cm) dia.


Erie Canal at Buffalo

Detail of Plate

Source of View: The view is based on a drawing made by by Captain Basil Hall, R.N. using a device known as a "Camera Lucinda." The image drawn by Captain Hall was made into an engraving by W.H. Lizars. The engraving was published by Cadell & Company, Edinburgh, Simpkin & Marshall & Moon, Boys & Graves, London in 1829, in Forty Etchings from Sketches Made with the Camera Lucinda in North America in 1827-1828, by Basil Hall, Edinburgh.1

Title of the Engraving: Buffalo on Lake Erie

Some Variations in Size and Type:
Dinner Plates 9.5, 9.75, 10.5 and 11 inches (Black brown, lavender and pink)
Soup plates 9.5 to 10.5 inches (Black brown, lavender and pink)

Historical Background: Captain Basil Hall (1788-1844), was born at Edinburgh, Scotland on the 3ist of December 1788. He was during his lifetime a British naval officer, traveler and writer. He joined the Royal Navy in 1802, at the age of 14. Following six years at sea, during which time he had been home only twelve days, he received a lieutenant's commission in 1808, he served on the frigate Endymion, employed at that time in transporting troops for Sir John Moore's army in Spain. In 1814 he was promoted to the rank of commander, and in 1817 to that of post-captain. Pending his promotion from the rank of lieutenant in 1813, he was appointed acting commander of the Theban on the East India station, when he accompanied its admiral, Sir Samuel Hood, in a journey over the greater part of the island of Java. On his return home he was appointed to the command of the Lyra, a small gun brig that, in 1816, formed part of the armament in the embassy of Lord Amherst to China. He sailed extensively along the coast of South America in the early 1820s.

He retired from the Navy at half pay in 1824. Captain Hall traveled across much of North America with his wife and their daughter between 1827 and 1828 during which time he recorded his impressions of the continent both in words and images. These images are of note as having been made using a device known as a "Camera Lucinda." A Camera Lucinda is a prism that could be set up on a flat surface and pointed at a distant object, casting its outline onto a sheet of paper, which the artist-engineer could then trace. An antecedent to photography, this technique in Hall's description, "enabled the amateur (to) rove where he pleases, possessed of a magical secret for recording the features of Nature with ease and fidelity..." These prints provide us with the most transparently accurate visual portrayal of the condition of America in the first part of the nineteenth century, a portrayal unique and of considerable historical significance.2 In 1829 he published his Travels in North America in the Years 1827 and 1828. The Manuscripts Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN has 169 sketches made in North America made by Captain Hall with the Camera Lucinda.

One of the images produced by Captain Hall and published in Forty Etchings from Sketches Made with the Camera Lucinda in North America in 1827-1828, was the Erie Canal basin on the Buffalo waterfront. The first building to front on the Canal Basin, as the Commercial Slip was originally termed, was the large wooden cantilevered dockside depot prominently shown in the famous 1827 view of the waterfront by Captain Basil Hall. The drawing made from the vantage point of the high terrace was done with a Camera Lucinda device and although drawn or traced, could be considered "almost photographic." The panoramic view illustrates the interconnection of the canal and lake traffic. The intriguing building fronting directly on the Commercial Slip is located on Water Lots 5 and 6. Each of the water lots was one chain (66 feet) wide. Lots 1 - 4 along the foreground, where the canal boat is seen, were never taken since they were not buildable lots. The distinctive building takes special advantage of its site by projecting the entire second story out above the canal towpath. Along the roof, a pair of dormer hatches with extended roofs could facilitate hoisting goods directly from the canal landing. This wooden structure was unique along the Buffalo waterfront and was one of the attractions that drew nineteenth century sightseers to the western terminus of the Erie Canal.3

1 Larsen, Ellouise Baker -- American Historical Views on Staffordshire China, Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, NY, 1950, p. 138.

2 Conlin, John -- "Buffalo's Original Canal Terminus Building: Cantilevered Architecture on the Canal Basin" in Western New York Heritage,Vol. 4 No. 1., p. 50.

3 ibid.

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