[BRASS FOUNDRY PATTERN BOOK, English 18th century]
[Early English trade catalogue of brass furniture hardware designs]
[Birmingham, England: late 18th century]. Oblong 4to. (7 1/2 x 11 inches). 113 engraved plates, on laid paper, priced throughout in manuscript.
Later calf backed marbled paper covered boards, flat spine ruled and lettered in gilt
A rarely encountered pattern book or trade catalogue of 18th century English furniture hardware, including drawer pulls, keyholes, hinges, locks, castors, bolts and more.
By 1770, over thirty different brass foundries operated in Birmingham, England, making it the epicenter of furniture hardware design in the last quarter of the 18th century. At roughly the same period, trade catalogues, like the present, began to be issued by both furniture and hardware makers alike. In all, over 500 designs are shown on the 113 consecutively numbered plates, from rather simple hinges to incredibly ornate pulls.
Although no engravers's names are identified, it has been suggested that the foundries themselves produced such plates, utilizing the talents of their own craftsmen, who by their very occupation would have been highly skilled at etching on metal. Such pattern books "illustrate the beginning of what was then a new movement in the conditions of the crafts, namely, the growth of the organised factory as a means of production and distribution, as compared with the earlier limitation of these functions to the efforts of individuals" (Young).
Cf. Hummel, Charles F. "Samuel Rowland Fishers Catalogue of English Hardware." Winterthur Portfolio, Vol 1 (1964): 188-197; cf. Symonds, R. W. "An Eighteenth-Century English Brassfounders Catalogue." Magazine Antiques (Feb. 1931): 102-105; Young, W. A., comp. Old English pattern books of the metal trades: a descriptive catalogue of the collection in the V&A Museum. London: HMSO, 1913.