Greenfield: Thomas Dickman, 1800. pp. plus thirty-five (of thirty-eight) plates, one folding. Lacks frontispiece and plates 25 and 32. Small quarto. Contemporary calf, remnants of leather label. Binding moderately worn, but sound. Moderate toning and foxing to titlepage. Scattered offsetting from plates, foxing and soiling. Light wear. Plate 29 torn with no loss, a portion of plate 33 (a folding plate, lacking a third) torn away. Still, a good copy of a scarce work. Item #WRCAM49563
The very rare third edition of the first architectural work by an American author. There were four editions in all: the exceedingly rare Greenfield 1797 first; the Boston 1798 second; the Greenfield 1800 third; and the Boston 1804 fourth. In our experience this third edition is the second rarest. Asher Benjamin was most responsible for disseminating late colonial details throughout New England, beautifully illustrated with engravings of colonial buildings, elevations of churches and homes, ornaments, cornices, etc., reflecting the influences of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. "[T]here is scarcely a village which in moulding profiles, cornice details, church spire, or farm-house does not reflect his influence" - DAB. Benjamin follows the earlier British handbook form, consisting of thirty plates with brief explanations for each. The content is based largely on British sources, primarily Pain and Chambers for the orders and Nicholson for construction details, but the complete designs are Benjamin's own. Benjamin was a prolific architectural writer and later published THE AMERICAN BUILDER'S COMPANION (1806), THE RUDIMENTS OF ARCHITECTURE (1814), and the very popular PRACTICAL HOUSE CARPENTER (1830). "The career of our first American architectural writer, Asher Benjamin (1773- 1845), covered several decades of the early nineteenth century. Both the books he wrote and the buildings he designed had an influence on building in New England that is still visible. He probably will be best remembered for his popularization of the federal style through his early books (and the Greek revival in his later ones)" - Thompson. Most copies of Benjamin's books were heavily used, accounting for rarity (and often imperfection) today. Only a handful of copies located in OCLC. ESTC W4015. HITCHCOCK 113. EVANS 36941. Neville Thompson, "Tools of Persuasion: The American Architectural Book of the Nineteenth Century" in THE AMERICAN ILLUSTRATED BOOK IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (1987), p.142.