POUNCY, John C. (circa 1808-1894)
Dorsetshire Photographically Illustrated ... The detail and touch of nature faithfully reproduced by a new process on stone, by which views are rendered truthful, artistic and durable
London: Bland & Long; Dorchester: John Pouncy, Photographic Institution, . 4 parts in 2 volumes, oblong small folio. (10 1/8 x 14 1/8 inches). 79 photolithographic plates (one double-page). Lithographic title in vol. 1, prospectus, list of subscribers and ad leaf in vols. 1 and 2. Contemporary manuscript list of contents in vol. 1 mounted on the front pastedown. Publisher's slip laid into vol. 1 requesting subscribers to remit payment. (Minor foxing).
Publisher's purple cloth, covers decoratively blocked in blind, upper covers lettered in gilt, yellow endpapers. Housed in a black morocco-backed box.
A landmark in the intersection between photography and lithography: a rare complete copy of the first book illustrated with prints produced from photographic negatives transferred onto lithographic stones.
"John Pouncy's Doresetshire Photographically Illustrated was the first book illustrated by photolithography to be published in Britain. A survey of mansions, churches and other places of interest in Dorset, the work was published by subscription in four parts in 1857, the first volume containing 39 and the second 40 plates ... As far as we know Pouncy's rare book was not only the first but remained the only attempt in book form to reproduce photographic views from nature by photolithography" (Gernsheim, History of Photography, p. 546). The author (or Projector as he refers to himself), writes in the introduction: "Believing the county of Dorset ... to be well deserving of a detailed Pictorial representation, the Projector of the present series of plates resolved to apply the art of Photograph to the purpose, and announced his work accordingly. Since that announcement was made, however, Photography has undergone various vicissitudes. Having at first been liberally and almost enthusiastically patronized by the public, it has now somewhat lost credit in consequence of a discovery, which time alone was able to make, and which time has unfortunately rendered notorious. It is found that Photographs very generally fade. Astonishing as is the effect, and almost perfect as is the beauty of some of these works of art, permanency is found wanting ... Under these circumstances the Projector of these 'Dorset Illustrations' determined to call in the aid of another art, that of Lithography; and thus, without forfeiting that exactness which is the peculiar characteristic of one, to ensure the quality of durability, which is unhappily wanting to it, by means of the co-operation of the other" (Introduction). The result is a curious intersection of photography and lithography, combining the realism of the former and the charming primitiveness of the latter. Although the views are produced from photographic negatives, Pouncy has added figures, animals and other details onto the stone. "What Pouncy had to achieve was to make photographs permanent. The long exposures still necessary meant that people and animals could not be included, so to give the pictures verisimilitude and life, he drew them in" (McLean). The transient nature of photographs would continue to inspire Pouncy, leading him to patent a controversial carbon process in 1858, and placing second in the Duc de Luynes competition in 1867. An expensive publication when issued (sold at 1£.1s per part) the book was published by subscription, with only one hundred and four listed subscribers. Although six parts were intended according the prospectus, only four were ever produced. Copies complete with all four parts and all 79 plates are exceptional.
Goldschmidt and Naef, The Truthful Lens 132; McLean, Victorian Book Design and Colour Printing, page 128; Gernsheim, History of Photography, p. 546.