First “Swell” arrival at Leadville: Leslie’s


“Colorado.–Contrasts of life in the new mining district.–The first “swell” arrival at Leadville.”  From Leslie’s Illustrated News.  New York: June 7, 1879.  Wood engraving.  Cover illustration.  19 3.4 x 8 1.4,  Very good condition.

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Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper was a New York based newspaper in the last half of the nineteenth century. Founded in 1855, Leslie’s in weekly issues presented a mixture of news stories, gossip, poetry, and most notably, wood-engraved illustrations. The pictures from the illustrated newspapers of the day remain one of the best sources for lively, informative images of nineteenth-century America. With photographs in a primitive stage, and no television, it is through these illustrations that much of the country got its visual information about the events, personalities and places of the time. These illustrations are also one of the few sources we have today for these same things. Major artists were employed to do drawings on the spot, which were then turned into lively and detailed prints in an amazingly short period of time. While originally issued in large numbers, few have survived the ages in good condition. These are interesting, historical and very collectable prints.

When the Pike’s Peak gold rush happened in Colorado, Leslie’s was the first newspaper to include illustrations of the region, something the paper continued to do as subsequent rushes happened in the state.  In 1879, silver was discovered in Leadville leading to Colorado’s first silver rush.  The rush attracted not only prospectors and miners, but also “swells” looking to benefit from the fortunes being made there.  This is a delightful image showing such a swell arriving in Leadville.