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BRITTON, John (1771--1857)
[Architectural antiquities. Vols 1--5]
The architectural antiquities of Great Britain represented and illustrated in a series of views, elevations, plans, sections, and details, of various ancient English edifices: with historical and descriptive accounts of each. By John Britton, F.S.A. Vol. I. (-V.)
London: printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme; J. Taylor; and the author, 1807. (1809, 1812, 1814, 1826.)
5 vols ; 32.8 cm. (2°)
I: [4], ii, [18], 8, 7*--8*, [1], 10-16, 23, [1], 34, 14, 6, 2, 6 p., [2] add. engr. t.-pl., [60] pl.
II: iv, ii, 114, 6 p., add. engr. t.-pl., [69] pl.
III: 6, 12, [1], 14*--16*, [1], 14-24, [25*-]-26*, [1], 26-28, 28--92, 6 p., add. engr. t.-pl., [68] pl. : [1] wdcut illus.
IV: iv, [1], iv--viii, 18, [1], 42--196, 10 p., add. engr. t.-pl., [76] pl. : [1] wdcut illus.
V: [4], xvi, [3], 6--260, lxiv, [2] p., [2] add. engr. t.-pl., [81] pl.

Large paper copy. Volume III, the advertisement for which is preserved in Soane's archive (q.v.), is dedicated to Soane. Volumes I--IV were originally issued in 40 parts from June 1805 to September 1814. Pages 6--7 of the 'Index To The Fourth Volume' are misnumbered 198--99. The fifth volume, which began part publication in August 1818 and was not completed until September 1826, was also issued separately under the title Chronological history and graphic illustrations of Christian architecture in England; a copy of the first part as issued is also in the Soane Museum (q.v.). With a single-leaf dedication in vol. V to the architect John Nash, dated May 1, 1820. This seems to have been suppressed in some copies (e.g. in the copy of the separate issue in the British Architectural Library), perhaps as a consequence of the parliamentary attacks on Nash in 1828 and his subsequent dismissal from the Office of Works following the death of George IV in 1830. For more on the publishing history, see Bernard Adams, London illustrated 1604--1851 (London 1983), no. 97, pp. 210--12, and BAL, Early printed books, no. 392 & 393.

Copy Notes Three parts, presumably of vol. I, were bought from E. Macklen for £1. 17s. 6d. in December 1806. (Archive 16/12/33). A statement of Soane's account with John Britton dated 15 October attached to a letter from Britton dated 17 November in which Britton concerning a discrepancy with Soane's payment records the purchase from Britton of Architectural antiquities, parts XXI--XXIV and XXX 'delivd before Oct 1811' for £3 7s. 6d.; parts XVI--XXVIII 'to compleat vol 3 in Jany - 1812' for £2 0s. 6d. Also recorded in the statement are 'Antiquities pts 26.27.28 to Mr J. Soane Junr to complete vol 3' for £1 4s. 6d. and 'paid before for 2 vols & [?] No1. 10. 6 each'. (Priv. Corr. III.B.1.4). Although the present large paper copy is the only one now in the Museum, it seems that Soane may have acquired vol. IV at least in both large and small paper copies, as a bill dated 29 September 1814 records a payment of 13 guineas to John Britton for 12 parts of 'Architectural Antiquities Vol 4. Large' at 13s. 6d. each and 5s. for binding and 12 parts of 'Vol 4. Small' at 8s. 6d. each and 4s. for binding. (Archive 7A/15/17). It seems likely Soane may have continued to purchase the work for John junior; another possible explanation is that Soane obtained the small paper copy on behalf of another purchaser, possibly the landscape gardener John Haverfield who had laid out the grounds of Pitzhanger for Soane and continued to be consulted by him on other commissions. This is suggested by correspondence with John Britton dated 16 November 1811 (attached to the above statement and letter, which also enclosed 'a bill for Mr Haverfield'), which refers to 'the subject of charge for Archl Antiquities to Mr Haverfield', who had evidently requested a discounted price which Britton explains to Soane he is unable to charge 'unless it be to oblige you'. However, the letter goes on to explain that 'this is the last copy (Large Paper) I have left, & if I want another it will cost me the same Sum, or more'. (Priv. Corr. III.B.1.4). Britton was paid a further £1 4s. for 'Binding Vol 4. Architectural Antiquities. Large. Russia', February 1815. (Archive 7/6/55). In volume IV of Soane's copy there is a plate of the kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey which does not appear in the list of plates. Volume V is a proof copy with the plates on India paper.

Binding C19th diced russia, blind-tooled and gilt double-rule borders and spine, direct-lettered in gilt, marbled edges and endpapers. Although nearly uniform, there are slight differences in the tooling between vols I--III, IV and V.

Reference Number 1777


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