Dickens Coaching Prints

Today marks 200 years since the birth of Charles John Huffam Dickens, Victorian novelist and arguably one of the earliest ‘literary celebrities’. Dickens’ works remain popular today for their colourful characters, intricate plots and social commentary, and the anniversary allows me to highlight a couple of items from the BPMA’s collection; namely two hand coloured prints of Dickens coaching scenes.

The prints show scenes from two of Dickens’ novels; David Copperfield and Great Expectations. The artist, Albert Ludovici Jr. (1852-1932), had a particular fondness for the English ‘coaching age’ and these prints are part of a larger series of coaching scenes, probably made in the late 1800’s, featuring episodes from Dickens novels. At least 16 of Ludovici’s Dickens Coaching series were later acquired by R. Tuck and Sons of Bishopsgate, London who produced the prints in the BPMA collection.

David Copperfield arrives in London (2009-0055/1)

David Copperfield arrives in London (2009-0055/1)

In ‘David Copperfield Arrives in London’ the young David can bee seen standing at the back of a mail coach which has stopped in the street outside ‘The Blue Boar/ Posting Establishment’. The coach has a sign at back giving the main stops along the route – in this instance London, Ipswich and Yarmouth. The artist has captured the liveliness of the scene, including some suitably ‘Dickensian’ characters such as a dapper gentleman with an eye patch and an old woman getting off the coach by ladder.

‘The Meeting of Pip & Estella in the Inn Yard’ shows the adult Pip and Estella standing outside ‘The Crosskeys/ Coffee House’. Again, a red and black mail coach form part of the background for the scene.

The Meeting of Pip & Estella in the Inn Yard (2009-0055/2)

The Meeting of Pip & Estella in the Inn Yard (2009-0055/2)

Although today the term ‘Dickensian’ is often used to reflect the Victorian era in general, many of Dickens’ novels, including the two depicted here, are set somewhat earlier, before the development of the railways led to the end of the mail coach service. Certainly, the romance of the mail coach outlasted the service itself, as reflected in the artist’s comments about the series in his memoirs An Artists’ Life in London and Paris:

I cannot help feeling sorry for the present generation, who have no idea of these good old times, and my only regret is that I did not live in the coaching days, which I have so often tried to depict in my Charles Dickens coaching series of pictures.

Both prints have a copyright notice dated 1903 and their clarity suggests that they may possibly be facsimiles of the originals. The prints are lovely items in themselves, and it is arguable that continued reproductions of the images in the early 20th Century simply reflect the enduring popular appeal of many of Dickens’ well-loved characters.

- Sarah Jenkins, Assistant Cataloguer (Collections)

See larger version of these two prints on our Flickr site. Find out more about Mail Coaches on our website, where you can also see items from our collection related to Horse-Drawn Mail.

10 responses to “Dickens Coaching Prints

  1. Hi.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    I am a fan of Charles Dickens novels even though he is already 200 years old today. Do you have a larger view of the pictures?

  2. we have inhertited four of these prints but would like to know how to tell the date of these or even the value if possible the relative has been gone for about twenty years now and no way to know how long they had them but know it was for many years I love them they have no glass in frames just narrow old wood frames around them they are in a series

  3. I have a tray with the print of Pip meeting Estella==but can be hung as a picture. It’s made in England. Wonder if it’s worth keeping.

  4. Hi I also have 4 coaching scene by Lovitt what are their values

  5. These Dickens scenes
    are by my gt Grandfather, Albert Ludovici. I have a set and some spare if you are interested in seeing the whole series. The post office may also like to see a lovely painting called “Posting a Letter” an oil painting of his daughter in N London reaching on tiptoes to post her letter in one of the older shaped post boxes (tried to attach a picture of it here but I couldn’t ) It would be lovely as a stamp.
    if the people above asking about the pictures want answers to their questions go to, The Art of the Ludovici Family, fb page

    Thanks

    Caroline Ludovici
    info@carolineludovici.com

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