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Last seen at auction at Sotheby’s some 25 years ago, they sold at $150,000 (£113,635) and $70,000 (£53,030).

Mississippi earning

Illustrated top are two of the 78 colour-printed and hand-finished litho plates after Henry Lewis that make up a rare, 1854-58 Dusseldorf first of Das Illustrierte Mississippithal… that in re-backed but original boards sold for $45,000 (£34,090).

An English-born artist, Lewis had settled in St Louis in 1836 and his most ambitious painting was a 1000ft-long panorama of the Mississippi. Unveiled to the public in 1849, that huge work was taken in 1851 on a tour of Europe, where just two years later its creator ended up settling down in an artists’ colony in Dusseldorf.

Both German and English language versions of Das Illustrierte Mississippithal… were planned, but though the latter was never published, the plates of the German version have primarily bilingual or Englishonly captions.

Very few copies were sold at the time and most of the edition was stored in a warehouse before eventually being sold off as wastepaper. Two of those that survived have made considerably higher sums. In 2000 a copy made $110,000 at Sotheby’s New York and in 2005 another reached $140,000 at Christie’s New York.