Sunday, March 22, 2015

John Dalton and the Curious Album Pages

John Dalton’s autograph appears to be authentic for sure, but who drew that pencil sketch?  I recently acquired two pages of an old autograph album, one of which is signed by the famous scientist. Dalton wrote his name in the panel above the sketch, which depicts a rather palatial structure (Figures 1-4, click on each image to enlarge).

 Figure 1.  Album Pages. Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

Figure 2.  Page with Dalton's signature and sketch. 
Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

Figure 3.  Dalton's signature. 
Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

Figure 4.  Pencil sketch of unknown building. 
Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

The album reportedly belonged to a Gillian Shaw and his family from Leamington Spa.  On the page facing the one in question, Peter Clare, Dalton’s good friend, and Dr. Byrom, presumably of the well-known Manchester family, signed their names as well (Figures 5 and 6). The Dalton, Clare and Byrom autographs are all dated 27 January 1843, suggesting that the owner of the album was visiting Manchester, perhaps a friend or acquaintance of one of the signatories, or even a former student of the famous scientist.

 Figure 5.  Album page with Clare, Byrom, and MST autographs. 
Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

Figure 6.  Clare and Byrom autographs. 
Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

Questions abound. A few pages before the Dalton signature, the album contained a portrait sketched by architect J. J. Bateman of Leamington Spa (not shown), but it is signed, and the drawing of the building on Dalton’s page is not. Who is the artist, was the building located in Manchester or Leamington Spa, and was it a home or did it have some other purpose? And what about the poem signed by the unidentified “MST” in Manchester on 11 February 1843 below the Peter Clare/Byrom signatures (Figure 7)?

 Figure 7.  MST autograph. 
Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

If there are any Mancurians, Leamingtons, or parties in the know who can shed some light on the sketch or signatures – post a comment and let me know!

Copyright © M. I. Grossman.  All rights reserved.

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