Pain, William

The practical builder, or workman’s general assistant : shewing the most approved and easy methods for drawing and working the whole or separate part of any building, as the use of the tramel for groins, angle-brackets, niches, &… the proportion of the five orders … frontispieces, chimney-pieces, ceilings, cornices, architraves, &. in the newest taste. With plans and elevations of gentlemens and farm-houses, yards, barns, &. … engraved on eighty-three plates.

London, “printed for I.Taylor, at the Bible and Crown, in Holborn, near Chancery Lane” 1776.

Reference: 14101
Price: £940 [convert currency]

Full Description

4to. (14)pp, 83 engraved plates (one folded at outer margin), also printed leaf with publisher’s adverts. Contemporary quarter calf, marbled boards. A small browned area at outer margin of title leaf, but a respectable, unrestored copy.

Second edition of one of the most successful and influential of the numerous architectural pattern books produced over a thirty-year period between the late 1750s and the late 1780s by William Pain, a builder and joiner. In The Practical Builder Pain offered accurately drawn measured illustrations of all the principal architectural and constructional elements that would be required in the building of a typical late eighteenth century town house or farm house, with a particular emphasis on features such as roofing and staircase design which required skills in carpentry and joinery, Pain’s personal specialities. The Practical Builder ran to seven editions between 1774 and 1804, and the present copy, very much to this cataloguer’s surprise, appears to be the only certainly recorded copy of this second edition, a 1776 reissue unchanged from the 1774 first edition except for the date on its title leaf. This arises from the fact that although Harris/Savage (their no.641) record this edition from a copy at Yale, there is no entry for a 1776 edition in ESTC, where copies of this title both in the Beinecke Library at Yale and at the Yale Center for British Art are listed as being of the 1774 edition. Faced with this, the compilers of the BAL Catalogue (their no.2371, a copy of the 1774 edition) were only able to state that Pain’s book was “apparently” reissued in 1776, and it is reassuring that the present copy has now come to light.