John Raphael Isaac

Liverpool, designed drawn and engraved by John Raphael Isaac. © Trustees of the British Museum. Museum number 1949, 1011.95.
Liverpool, designed, drawn & engraved by John Raphael Isaac. © Trustees of the British Museum. Museum number 1949, 1011.95.

ISAAC, John Raphael (1809?-1870) — Liverpool

Draughtsman, printer, engraver, lithographer, print & bookseller. Published Excursion map [of Liverpool], 1854 for the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting held there in that year; a bird’s-eye view of Liverpool, etc. Also produced “List of the animals in the Liverpool Zoological Gardens with notices respecting them” 1838; lithographs of ships and animals; a portfolio of lithographs on the Atlantic Telegraph Cable 1858, etc. Also known for views, bookplates, etc.

Born in Liverpool in 1809, or possibly a little earlier, the eldest son of Ralph Isaac (1771-1840) & his wife Sophia Aaron (1786-1867), who married in 1805. Probably the John Isaac apprenticed (Stationers) to the London printer and publisher David Samson Maurice in 1821. Trading as “John R. Isaac & Co.” as early as 1829. In 1838, he was advertising himself as a heraldic painter and seal engraver, offering “every description of engraving and printing”, at that time seeking an “experienced workman in the engraving department” and a “respectable youth” as an apprentice (Liverpool Standard, 1 Jun 1838). He married Sarah Amelia Coleman (1813?-1901), born in South Carolina, with whom he had numerous children, at Seel Street Synagogue in 1839. Isaac served as junior treasurer at the synagogue 1841-1843. The Colemans were also an engraving family. Advertised in the Liverpool Mercury 23 Jun 1843, that he “begs to acquaint merchants, gentry, and others interested in the West Indies, that he has just received the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company’s Modified Plan for performing the West India Mail-Packet Service, and which may be had of him, with a new chart of the routes, passengers’ fares, and other lists”. He became Liverpool agent for the Art Union at about this time and, in 1845, he impressed Prince Albert sufficiently on a visit to Liverpool to be appointed “medallist, lithographer, and engraver at Liverpool” to the Prince. He also had an ink manufactory in Birkenhead for a time in partnership with Benjamin Coleman, the partnership formally dissolved Feb 1 1851. Isaac was on the Board of Management of the newly founded Liverpool Hebrews’ Educational Institution in 1852. He took out patents or registered designs for a cork or stopper in 1850, for a perpetual remembrancer in 1852, for “improvements in the construction of portable buildings” in 1855 — these were for portable barracks and hospitals, a scheme which he proposed to the Board of Ordnance — for “improvements in the construction of hand boxes for travellers” in 1859, and for an indexed key cabinet in 1868. Towards the end of his life, now trading as “J. R. Isaac & Son”, with his son Rafaelle Coleman Isaac (1840-1904), as “dealers in works of art”, he went bankrupt in November 1869. He died in 1870 and was buried in Deane Road Cemetery, Liverpool.

37 Castle Street, corner of Cook Street, Liverpool — 1837-1842
62 (Art Union Rooms), Castle Street, Liverpool — 1842-1867

BBTI. BM. BNA. Information from Philip Burden. Census 1841-1861. COPAC. Fincham. LG. NA. ROLLCO.

Liverpool Mercury, 23rd June 1843. © Findmypast Newspaper Archive Ltd.
Liverpool Mercury, 23rd June 1843. © Findmypast Newspaper Archive Ltd.