This amazing etching was designed by William Heath (not to be confused with Henry Heath), one of the most underappreciated of the British caricaturists. According to the DNB, from 1825 to 1826, “Heath was in Scotland, writing and illustrating the first magazine in the world to be given over, predominantly, to caricatures: The Glasgow Looking Glass, later the Northern Looking Glass….” (Ex Oversize Item 3584659q)
When Heath returned to London in 1827, he began signing his prints with a drawing of the actor Liston in the role of Paul Pry from John Poole’s 1825 comedy. However the signature (and his engaging designs) attracted so many plagiarists that Heath was forced to abandon it in 1829.
Among the prints that attracted so much attention in the spring of 1829 were a series of satires on the question of Catholic emancipation featuring King George IV, Prime Minister Wellington, and Lords Eldon and Brougham. Titles included The Slap-Up Swell Wot Drives When Ever He Likes, The Guard Wot Looks After the Sovereign, The Man Wot Drives the Opposition, The Cad Wots Been Appointed Rat-Catcher to the Sovereign, and The Man Wot’s Been Made Foreman to the British, among others.
This print, The Man Wots Got the Whip Hand of ‘Em All, depicts a Stanhope Press with the legs of King George. It wears a cap of Liberty inscribed Free Press and holds a giant pen with fire-spitting serpents. Prime Minister Wellington’s departing legs and hat are seen at the top right, while the legs and buckled shoes of Lord Eldon are seen at the left. A print titled The Man Wot Drives the Sovereign (another by Heath) is about to be burned by the flames of the ‘free press.’ Note the printer’s devil with an ink ball bottom lower left.
The Graphic Arts division several dozen prints by Heath, along with his illustrated books. Here are a few others.