Roger Gaskell Rare Books

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CATHEDRAL CARPENTRY.

PRICE, Francis (d. 1753)

A series of particular and useful observations , made with great diligence and care, upon that admirable structure, the cathedral-church of Salisbury

London: printed by C. and J. Ackers, in St. John's Street; and sold by R. Baldwin, at the Roe in Pater-Noster-Row, 1753
4to: A4 a4 b2 B–L4, 50 leaves, pp. [14] v [1,blank] 78 [2]. Advertisement on last leaf, verso blank. Woodcut headpieces and initials
14 engraved plates: An unnumbered plate at p. 1, signed ‘F. Price delin. 1753. P. Fourdrinier Sculp’' and Plates 1–13 by Foudrinier after price, variously dated 1738, 1746, 1747 and 1748 (the first folding, bound throughout the text).
Condition: 279 x 227. Light paper discolouration.
Binding: Contemporary sprinkled sheep. Head and tail caps chipped, corners worn, joints split but cords holding.
First edition. An enlarged edition was published as A description of that admirable structure, the cathedral church of Salisbury (1774).
Bibliography: Harris 705; ESTC T93633; RIBA 2614.
£1,000

‘This book is noted as the first serious architectural study of a Gothic building. It is the result of a general survey that he began in 1738 after being appointed clerk of works to the cathedral. From his investigations he was able not only to carry out necessary repairs but, more interesting, to date parts of the vaulting, to note and explain various structural peculiarities, to prove that the tower and spire were not originally intended, and thereby, to make a significant contribution to the building's history.’ (Harris, p. 375).
Price says in his preface that he first became acquainted with the building 16 years earlier and it was only published 3 months his death. The fine plates after Price’s drawings show the dates of the surveys, 1738, 1746, 1747 and 1748, and include elevations as well as constructional details that would have been useful to the many craftsmen whose names appear in the list of 294 subscribers. They were indeed part of Price’s intended audience, the titlepage announcing that the book was ‘calculated for the Use and Amusement of Gentlemen, and other curious Persons, as well as for the assistance of such Artists as may be employed in Buildings of the like Kinds …’. This was very much the combined audience also intended for his Treatise on carpentry (1733) meant to be ‘intelligible to Carpenters’ and ‘of use to the ingenious Theorist of Building’. The advertisemtent leaf at the end (present here but lacking in the RIBA copy) is for a new edition of the Treatise, now named the British carpenter.
Literature: Eileen Harris, British architectural books and writers 1556–1785 (1990).
Keywords:     carpentry