Specimens of tile pavements drawn from existing authorities. Henry, Shaw

Specimens of tile pavements drawn from existing authorities. Henry, Shaw

1858 London

Offered by Hugh Pagan

£1,550 gbp
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London, Basil M. Pickering 1858.

4to. 22pp, 47 chromolitho plates (3 double page). Publisher’s boards, morocco spine. From the library of the Liverpool architect James O’Byrne (1835-97), with his armorial bookplate (ex O’Byrne sale, Christie 22 July 1987, lot 197). A good copy.
A rare and attractive colour plate book on English mediaeval decorative tiles by the architectural draughtsman and illustrator Henry Shaw (1800-1873). Shaw had started his career as a draughtsman assisting John Britton on the ‘Cathedral Antiquities ’ series, but soon began to produce a succession of illustrated books of his own on such subjects as ornament, furniture and interior decoration, largely based on mediaeval precedents. He was very much a part of the Gothic Revival scene, and the list of subscribers to the present volume (including William Burges, Benjamin Ferrey, Anthony Salvin and George Gilbert Scott) evidences his circle of associates. The text of the volume comprises a brief introduction ; a list of the plates with explanatory notes, including the text of a paper on incised slabs and pavements by William Burges originally printed in The Builder for 30 June 1855 ; and essays by Shaw himself on two remarkable pavements of mediaeval encaustic tiles, respectively uncovered at Jervaulx Abbey, Yorkshire, in 1807, and at Chertsey Abbey, Surrey, in 1853. The very handsome chromolithograph plates are based variously on drawings by Burges, drawings in the possession of the Marquess of Ailesbury (the owner of Jervaulx Abbey), and drawings by Shaw himself. Several of the pavements illustrated had been or were in the process of being destroyed, sometimes by what Shaw calls ‘travelling antiquaries’ taking a souvenir. Similarly, some of them were in the process of being ‘restored’, as, for example, the pavement of the Chapter House at Salisbury Cathedral. The volume should also be assessed in the wider context of the history of Victorian design, for the 1850s were a decade which had seen a revival of interest in decorative encaustic tiles as a flooring material, led by the Staffordshire manufacturer Herbert Minton, who both subscribed to Shaw’s book and is mentioned by him in his text. Lowndes records that only 200 copies of the book were printed, and only a handful of these now survive outside old institutional libraries. We had two copies of this title through our hands in quick succession in 2000 (listed in our catalogues 38 and 39), and this is the first copy that we have handled since. It is also much the best copy of the three, with the coloured plates in very good condition throughout.
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Hugh Pagan

Hugh Pagan
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