“View of Des Moines” Print, ca. 1856

Value (2010) | $4,000 Retail$5,000 Retail

I bought it about 37 years ago at an estate sale...


And I understand it is not an authentic bend of the river, nor does Iowa have white deer. The capital has been sketched in. It looks to have been added later. In 1856, the capital wasn't here yet.


But it had been commissioned to be moved from Iowa City to Des Moines. Six of them were found in the attic of the old Callanan house. And the Callanans were very early Des Moines settlers. I was told this artist has been authenticated, and they did find other lithographs that were true to the Des Moines scene.

I see. Well, W.R. Wheeler is the artist. And, as you said, he is known as a local artist. And this might be inaccurate, but he did do more accurate pictures. And this particular lithograph is listed in a major reference book called Views and "Viewmakers of America" by a professor at Cornell University. His name is John Reps. And his book lists hundreds of American bird's-eye views. And according to Reps's book, this is the first bird's-eye view of Des Moines. And as you say, the Callanans came from Albany. And on this side, it talks about the publishing company, which was probably also the lithographers. And they were in Albany. I looked to see what else they did. They didn't do anything else on the West. They did a number of lithographs of Albany. That's an interesting fact, because you would have thought that a bird's-eye view of this size and scope probably would have been done in those years in either Philadelphia, New York or Boston. I've only found one record of one being sold, and that was about 15 years ago. So it is a very scarce print. Have you ever thought about the value of this?

I've often wondered if I gave too much for it. My memory says I gave $400.

I see, yeah.

But memory is sometimes not right.

Right-- 37 years ago, that was probably a fair price. This kind of thing is very much in demand today. Be it ever so fictitious, it's a beautiful print. It is. It's ideal. I would say that even with the flaws-- the little tear, the spots and so on-- a fair retail price would be $4,000 to $5,000.

Oh! Oh, lovely.

There are people that would certainly pay that, yeah. Wonderful.

Appraisal Details

The Philadelphia Print Shop
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2010)
$4,000 Retail$5,000 Retail
Des Moines, IA (August 07, 2010)
19th Century

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