(A set of ten of the original guide books to the Crystal Palace).
London, Crystal Palace Library 1854.
8vo. 10 items bound in 2. 80pp, folding litho plan ; 73+(1)pp, 2 litho plans, 1 of which folding ; 91 + (1)pp ; 92pp ; 39 + (1)pp, folding litho plan ; 71 + (1)pp, folding litho plan ; vi + pp 3-113 + (1) + ii pp, folding litho plan ; 56pp ; (20 + 86 +(2)pp, folding litho plan, addenda slip ; 119+(1)pp, folding litho plan. Contemporary full red morocco, gilt panelled. all edges gilt, with the gilt-stamped monogram of the Crystal Palace Company in the centre of each upper and lower cover, within a gilt roundel lettered Official Hand Book 1854.The volumes are rubbed at hinges of spine, one with a small incipient split at top of front join, but are otherwise in good condition and clean internally.
A set, in the official gilt red morocco binding, comprising ten of the original guide books to the various “courts” specially designed and built to fill the famous glass exhibition hall designed by Sir Joseph Paxton for the Great Exhibition of 1851, but by 1854 re-erected on a new site at Sydenham, South London, as a museum for architecture and for the fine and applied arts. These courts were constructed out of plaster and were intended to represent architecture through the ages and throughout the Western and Near-Eastern world. The guides present here are those to the Nineveh Court (by Layard), the Pompeian Court (by George Scharf), the Courts of Modern Sculpture (by Mrs Jameson), the Natural History Department (by Latham and Forbes), Geology and Inhabitants of the Ancient World (by Richard Owen), the Egyptian Court (by Owen Jones and Joseph Bonomi), the Greek Court (by Owen Jones), An Apology for the Colouring of the Greek Court (by Owen Jones), the Roman Court (again by Owen Jones), and the Alhambra Court (again by Owen Jones). The guide by Richard Owen to “Geology and Inhabitants of the Ancient World” provides descriptions of the giant figures of dinosaurs positioned on the “Geological Islands” in the lake in the grounds of the Crystal Palace. The very considerable amount of art historical and cultural information provided by the guide books as a whole shows how seriously the Crystal Palace Company took its educational responsibilities towards visiting members of the general public, and the presence among them of Owen Jones’s important pamphlet explaining the reasons for the colour scheme adopted for the Greek Court shows that visitors were even expected to understand the arguments advanced by Semper and others about the use of polychromy in Greek architecture. The complete set ran to four further guide books, respectively dealing with the Byzantine and Romanesque Court, the Mediaeval Court, the Renaissance Court and the Italian Court, but we have only once had a set of all fourteen guide books, and a total of eight or ten is more normal.