New Luna Conveyance Company. [New Omnibus Company — Capital £]

  • An imaginative lithographic cartoon depicting a “New Luna Conveyance Company” omnibus carrying passengers “to the Moon” and advertising routes “to the Seven Stars” and “the Milky Way”. The coachman and ticket taker both wear comical pointed hats, one with a crescent moon symbol, as well as binoculars conveniently strapped to their heads. A number of the passengers use similar devices and, in one case, a telescope. Outside passengers are seated not on the roof, as in an Earthly omnibus, but in a boat-like attachment at the side. What may be the front of the vehicle sports an eagle head, though the rudder being placed there is an unusual choice from a engineering perspective. In the distance there are birds and the spires of buildings, likely St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Monument to the Great Fire of London. This print was previously pasted into a scrapbook, and the verso shows the blue paper album leaf and an engraving of a rural scene.

    The origin of this lithograph is unclear. The only copy (or, indeed, reference to one) we can find anywhere is a coloured version in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum which also lacks identifying details. That copy is more complete, as it includes the lower title, “New Omnibus Company — Capital £12,00,000,000” which has been trimmed here. Though undated, it is likely that this cartoon was published during the 1830s or 40s, when networks of private omnibuses were rapidly expanding in European cities. The first British line was established in Manchester in 1824, followed by George Shillibeer’s London service (based on the Paris model) in 1829, with competitors springing up almost overnight. The reference in the title to the firm’s ridiculous capital accumulation makes it clear that this joke is aimed at the rush to invest in, and roll out, new omnibus services.

  • [c. 1830s-1840s].

    Lithograph (165 x 230 mm) mounted on a blue album leaf, now removed and trimmed, with an engraving and remnants of other prints to the verso. Very faint pencil note to the lower right corner, possibly a surname but difficult to read. Old tape repair to top right corner, some creasing and light dampstain. Good condition.

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