J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Printed Bill from the Saracen's Head Inn, London, with Inscriptions by an Unknown Hand c.1814

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Printed Bill from the Saracen’s Head Inn, London, with Inscriptions by an Unknown Hand c.1814
Turner Bequest CXXII (1)
Printed text and pen and ink on white laid paper, 85 x 50 mm
Printed text additionally inscribed in pen and ink in an unknown hand (see main catalogue entry)
Inscribed in pencil ‘CXXII (1)’ bottom left
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This undated document is a printed slip, with only the figures in shillings and pence entered in ink (the underlining being pre-printed):
Saracen’s Head, | SNOW HILL.  
Post Coaches and Waggons | to all Parts of the Kingdom.  
W.B. Mountain & Co. | will not pay for any article ex- | ceeding the value of £5, if lost, | 
stolen or damaged, either in car- | riage or delivery, unless entered | as such,and paid for. 
Carriage       15” – 
Porterage       1” 1 
              16” 1 
Thomas Marson, Porter.  
The Saracen’s Head, which features in Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby (1838–9),1 was an inn adjacent to St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London, south of Smithfield Market and north of Old Bailey. Part of the street of Snow Hill still exists, although the inn was demolished in 1868 (woodcut, London Metropolitan Archives) and the site is marked with a City of London Blue Plaque.2 Guildhall Library records show William Butler Mountain and his family at the inn in 1808 and from 1812 into the 1830s,3 at one time servicing twenty-one coaching routes.4
The bill is a rare piece of Turner ephemera, and evidence of the day-to-day transactions involved in his many tours. It is one of a grouping of four loose papers kept in the integral pocket inside the front cover (D40898) of the Finance sketchbook. Two others (D08357, D08358; Turner Bequest CXXII (2), (3)) are pre-printed Bank of England slips with manuscript additions. A fourth is a much-folded sheet of accounts (D08359, D40900; Turner Bequest CXXII (4) and verso).
Turner’s incidental note on the verso of the present sheet (D40899) is dated 13 January 1814, giving an approximate year date for the printed slip, although it could have been retained from considerably earlier.
Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert (eds.), The London Encyclopædia, London 1983, p.771.
‘Blue Plaques’, City of London, accessed 11 September 2013, http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/bluePlaques/results.aspx?id=F8D731FC-56CF-4DE8-A78B-FF660095199F.
‘Saracens Head Hotel, 4 Skinner Street, Snowhill, St Sepulchre’, Pub History of London, Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Middlesex, Suffolk, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Sussex, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Devon, Somerset & Dorset, accessed 11 September 2013, http://pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/StSepulchre/SaracensHead.shtml.
Philip S. Bagwell, The Transport Revolution from 1770, London 1974, p.51.
Technical notes:
All but the right-hand edge are slightly irregular. The sheet has several long-standing creases, particularly along the vertical axis, and was perhaps casually folded on receipt.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Printed Bill from the Saracen’s Head Inn, London, with Inscriptions by an Unknown Hand c.1814 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-printed-bill-from-the-saracens-head-inn-london-with-r1147835, accessed 23 June 2024.