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Anderson, Alexander, 1775-

The first engraver on wood in America; born in New York, April 21, 1775. His father was a Scotchman, who printed a Whig newspaper in New York, called The constitutional gazette, until he was driven from the city by the British in 1776. At the age of twelve years young Anderson made quite successful attempts at engraving on copper and type-metal, and two or three years later he began the study of medicine. In 1796 he received the degree of M. D. from Columbia College, writing for the occasion a thesis on “Chronic mania.” He

Alexander Anderson.

practised the profession for a few years, and engraved at the same time, liking that employment better. After the yellow fever in 1798 had swept away nearly his whole family, he abandoned the practice of medicine and made engraving his life profession. Having seen an edition of Bewick's History of quadrupeds, illustrated with wood-engravings by that master, Anderson first learned that Wood was used for such a purpose. He tried it successfully; and from that time he used it almost continuously until a few months before his death, in Jersey City, N. J., Jan. 17. 1870. A vast number of American books illustrated by Anderson attest the skill and industry of this pioneer of the art of wood-engraving in America.

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