Price, Francis

A series of particular and useful observations, made with great diligence and care, upon that admirable structure, the cathedral-church of Salisbury. Calculated for the use and amusement of gentlemen … by all which they will be enabled to form a right judgment upon this, or any ancient structure, either in the Gothick or other stiles of building.

London, “printed by C. and J. Ackers, in St.John’s Street ; and sold by R. Baldwin, at the Rose in Pater-Noster-Row” 1753.

Reference: 09612
Price: £825 [convert currency]

Full Description

4to. (14) + v + (1) + 78 + (2)pp, and (1) + 13 engraved plates (of which 1 folding). Contemporary full calf., slightly splitting at head and foot of joints (but the binding still sound). Neatly repaired for a minor area of paper loss towards centre of title leaf and for worm holes in lower blank margin of first few leaves, but otherwise a very good, fresh copy. Armorial bookplate of John Rolle, 1st Baron Rolle (1756-1842).

First edition of what has been described as “the first serious architectural study of a Gothic building”. What was really novel about it is that its author’s aim was not merely to describe the building but to explain to his readers exactly how it was constructed, with particular emphasis on the structure of the cathedral’s tower and spire as devised by its original architect. Price was well qualified to do so, for he had himself supervised restoration work on the tower, spire and the cathedral’s timber roofing, and he was also the author of a widely esteemed treatise on carpentry, first published in 1733. The accompanying plates are from Price’s own measured drawings and two of them illustrate the “iron bandages” holding the tower together. An extensive list of subscribers includes a number of architects and craftsmen (and also Oliver Edwards, Dr Samuel Johnson’s college friend who tried to be a philosopher but found that cheerfulness always broke through). The present copy derives from the library formed by the Rolle family at Bicton, Devon, one of their two country houses in that county, each containing a substantial and carefully selected collection of books. It is listed on p.285 of the privately printed Catalogue of the Library at Bicton House, Devon, 1850. All books from the library carry the early nineteenth century armorial bookplate of John Rolle, 1st Baron Rolle (1756-1842), as does this one, but Lord Rolle seems not to have been a book collector himself, and it is likely that this book had been acquired by his father or uncle. The copy includes at the end a printed advertisement leaf for the second edition of Price’s The British Carpenter ; the leaf in question is called for by the compilers of the recent British Architectural Library catalogue, but a careful reading of the BAL catalogue entry (BAL Cat 2614) shows that it is absent from the BAL copy itself, as it was from the copy of this book which was item 88 in our catalogue no.32, and the leaf is clearly therefore not always present. Harris/Savage 705.