The Lancashire Mine

In the 1960s and early 70s, limited edition prints signed by L S Lowry were selling like hot cakes.
That’s why having held several exhibitions for Isherwood in the 70s, his agent  decided an Isherwood limited edition of one of his “best” paintings would be a winner.
The Lancashire MineIsherwood agreed with the choice “The Lancashire Mine” based on the Mossley Common Pit on the outskirts of Manchester. He had captured its atmosphere in a largish painting and the pithead gear stood out against a moody sky. There wasn’t a figure in sight.
Isherwood was delighted that this was to be his first “full colour” edition, limited to 750 copies at £25 each. His commission was agreed – and the project went ahead.
“The Lancashire Mine” was to be printed by a firm in the south with an exceptional reputation. But there was a hitch from the start.
Once photographed, the painting was found to have surface defects – bits of brush and copious amounts of cigarette ash which would show up in the final print. The original had to be dispatched for cleaning before being photographed again.
Two months later, the parcels of prints arrived and now it was a case of selling them. A small promotional card was sent to known collectors and Isherwood fans and there were advertisements in both the local papers and Lancashire Life.
Isherwood about to sign some limited edition printsIsherwood signed about 300 prints prior to the launch at the Grand Hotel, Wigan where he was joined by Joe (later Sir Joe) Gormley, President of the National Union of Mineworkers, the MP Alan Fitch and the Mayor of Wigan, Councillor Bob Lyons. The three guests countersigned around a dozen of the prints.
Some prints found ready buyers but the “Lancashire Mine” could never have been dubbed a great success.
All a long time ago, of course. Over the years, signed and unsigned prints have surfaced and were snapped up. It is believed Isherwood ended up giving copies to friends.
But time has proved that the print is a success and signed copies are now sought by collectors.