[BRASS FOUNDRY PATTERN BOOK]
[Early English trade catalogue of brass furniture hardware designs]
[Birmingham, England: circa 1800]. Oblong 4to. (7 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches). 147 engraved plates (28 folding), on laid paper watermarked J. Clarke 1801, priced throughout in manuscript.
Contemporary calf backed blue paste-paper boards. Housed in a blue morocco backed box.
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, hundreds of designs are shown on the plates, from rather simple hinges to incredibly ornate pulls. Containing a plethora of essential household fittings for the Regency builder and decorator, from the humble nail to elaborate pilasters and capitals, and even drawer handles formed in the shape of cannon. Some with engraved titles or explanatory notes, such as: 'All these Escutchns. are now made with much larger Keyholes'; 'Plate Warmer Handle'; 'Ballance Handles for Night Bolts'; 'Double Sconces at double the Price'; 'All these Patterns may be had Cloakpins'; 'Castor for a Sopha'; 'Harpsichord Hinge'; 'Pew Catch'; 'Camp Desk Furniture'; 'Common slight Cranks'; and 'Piano Forte Nobs'. 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.