A view of ‘Chowrhingee Road’, one of the plates from the copy of William Wood’s Series of Twenty-Eight Panoramic Views of Calcutta… sold by Burstow & Hewett for £5500.

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The work of William Wood, a folio publication of 1833 that presents early views of Calcutta was offered as part a general antiques auction held by Burstow & Hewett (24% buyer’s premium) on September 22.

A Series of Twenty-eight Panoramic Views of Calcutta, Extending from Chandpaul Ghaut to the End of Chowringhee Road, together with the Hospital, the Two Bridges, and the Fort., to give its full title, was sold for £5500 at the sale held in Battle, East Sussex.

Most pages of this copy showed some light foxing to the margins and on the backing paper, while the front cover of the binding was detached.

Wood offered earlier

Another copy, bound in later quarter red morocco, had been offered two days earlier as part of a Travel & Exploration sale held by Bonhams (27.5/26/20/14.5% buyer’s premium).

The Knightsbridge saleroom noted that the lithographed plates, which in the case of Nos 20-27 were printed on India proof paper, showed occasional light spotting, but it sold at £6500.

Auction records show a couple of copies that have made more and one of them, sold by Bonhams in 2006 for £15,000, was rather special.

Bound in modern half morocco, it presented the four parts in which the work had been originally issued, along with their wrappers, but key to its success was the fact that those plates were all hand coloured.


Plate from Views of Calcutta and its Environs, from Drawings… – £60,000 at Bonhams.

Calcutta was also the subject of one of the best performing lots at this Bonhams auction: a first edition of Views of Calcutta and its Environs, from Drawings… from Sketches Made on the Spot of 1824-26.

Featuring 24 hand-coloured aquatint plates by Robert Havell Junior after James Baillie Fraser, all printed on thick paper, it sold for £60,000, double the top estimate.


This 1848 view from Sir Charles D’Oyly’s book Views of Calcutta and its Environs shows the Esplanade, which was made by clearing away the jungle around Gobindpore, the most southerly settlement of Calcutta, to build New Fort William in 1757. Esplanade Row marked the southernmost part of the city and was itself the northern limit of the Esplanade. It was home to many impressive public buildings, as seen in this hand-coloured lithograph. Under East India Company rule and later under the British Raj, Calcutta served as the capital of British-held territories in India until 1911. Views of Calcutta and its Environs, including 27 views on 25 tinted lithographed plates (one folding) by W Robert and Lowes Dickinson after D’Oyly, all hand coloured, this rare first edition doubled the high estimate to take £16,000 at Bonhams.