[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].
[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].

[Engraved trade catalogue of cast and stamped brass furniture fittings, household hardware and picture frames].

[Birmingham[?], ca. 1811]. Oblong small folio (8” x 13”). 81 engraved plates, 12 of which are folding.

A fine brassfounder’s trade catalogue illustrating over 600 objects on eighty-one plates (twelve folding), each numbered and (most) priced in manuscript, dating around 1811 as one leaf has a dated watermark (most likely from a Birmingham manufacturer)—this copy turned up in Spain, where it appears to have been kept for a long time.

Though the contents are wide-ranging (see below), some of the most interesting are the first eleven plates (of which ten are folding), which all together show about sixty-nine different picture frames: round, oval and rectangular. Reference literature on brass frames is very sparse. The vast majority of frames were made of wood and painted or gilded. Indeed, in the catalogue of the V & A collection of engraved trade catalogues, entitled Old English Pattern Books in the Metal Trades (1913), only one plate (no. 12) shows two frames in corner detail and in section (i.e. moulding profile) and the caption indicates they were made of carved wood or plaster, not of metal. It is difficult to know what the frames in the present catalogue were intended for; possibly for small oil or watercolor portraits. More research should be done on this.

A lively variety of other objects appear in the catalogue, including bell pulls, ditto with “brass centers on velvet,” curtain pins “of a fine gold colour with shanks and backs compleat,” cloak pins, bed caps [to cover bolts], escutcheons, drawer pulls and knobs, “mortise lock furniture in sets compleat,” burnish’d ornaments, “stamp’d door plates of a fine gold colour” and other similar items. A few of the drawer pulls deserve special mention; one commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (‘Sacred to Nelson’); another was clearly intended for the American market (the American eagle Federal shield with the motto ‘E Pluribus Unum’), and yet another celebrated British trade (‘Commerce is our strength’ ).

As has often been remarked about these catalogues, the quality of the engraving is very high; it certainly is in the present one. As was almost always the case with this genre, the manufacturer was anonymous. “The brassfounders’ traditional use of factors and agents accounts for the maddening anonymity of the catalogues. Agents did not want their customers, to whom they showed the patterns, to discover the sources of their wares” (Goodison, Nichlas. Furniture History, 1975, p. 6). These early engraved trade catalogues are becoming increasingly rare in the marketplace as they almost invariably go into institutional libraries.

An unusually appealing and diverse brassfounder’s catalog.

REFERENCES: Symonds, R. W. "An Eighteenth-Century English Brassfounders Catalogue." Magazine Antiques (Feb. 1931), pp. 102-105; Young, W. A., comp. Old English Pattern Books of the Metal Trades: a Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection in the V&A Museum. London, 1913.

CONDITION: Rather crudely recased in recent marbled paper covered boards. Most of the folding plates have old repairs at the folds; not objectionable. Scattered light browning, but again not objectionable.

Item #6269

Price: $8,500.00

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