Shaw, Henry

Alphabets numerals and devices of the middle ages.

London, William Pickering 1845.

Reference: 15379
Price: £520 [convert currency]

Full Description

Large folio. (8)pp (including title leaf printed in red and black), (48) plates executed in various media, the majority litho or tinted litho, but some of the litho plates printed in colour and other plates engraved and coloured by hand. Publisher’s cloth, with gilt-lettered morocco spine. From the Birmingham Assay Office Library (from which this copy has been recently de-accessioned), with their small circular ownership stamp at foot of front free endpaper, and pencil shelf-mark, but no other library markings. A good copy.

A good copy in its original publisher’s binding of this most impressive illustrated volume, providing images of letters of the alphabet and of related devices very accurately copied by the author from medieval manuscripts, monumental brasses and early printed books. His intention was that his book should be used both for “professional purposes” by architects and decorators, and “as a text-book for the amateur and collector, by which he may be assisted in ascertaining the date of any specimen of mediaeval decoration he may take an interest in, and appreciate modern efforts in imitation of the various styles of Christian Art in use between the Saxon period and the Reformation”. The book is illustrated by a series of handsome plates executed in a variety of techniques, and is an excellent example of a collaboration between the author, antiquary and draughtsman Henry Shaw (1800-1873), the Pickering firm of publishers and the volume’s printer, Charles Whittingham. It is significantly rarer and more desirable than a version of Shaw’s book marketed at the same time by Bernard Quaritch which also carries an 1845 date on its title leaf, but is in a smaller format and contains only twenty-five plates, as opposed to the 48 plates in the Pickering edition.