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The Library of William Buckland


When William Buckland died in 1774 his estate inventory listed a library of 22 titles in 38 volumes. There were several religious and literary works but the bulk of the collection was architectural and building manuals. This is a fascinating list, providing substantial insights into his design inspirations.

(Title abbreviations were used in the inventory so in some cases there are ambiguous references)

Chippendale, Thomas. The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker’s Director... (1st ed. London, 1754).

The inventory lists the book as “Chippendale’s Designs” with a low value of .6 L, which indicates that Buckland might have only owned the plates which were published separately. This is the most influential furniture pattern book published in England. It is thought that the Chinese Room design inspirations possibly came from this book.

Gibbs, James (1682-1754). A Book of Architecture…. (1st ed. London, 1728).

Halfpenny, William and John, Thomas Lightoler, and Robert Morris. The Modern Builder’s Assistant... (1st ed. London, 1742). Listed in the inventory as “Lightolers Designs, .8"

Hoppus, Edward. Practical Measuring Made Easy to the Meanest Capacity, by a New Set of Tables... (1st ed. London, 1736). This was a very popular builder’s price guide.

Johnson, Thomas. One Hundred & Fifty New Designs, ... (1st ed. London, 1758). Listed in the inventory as “Johnsons Carver’s Designs, .2" which suggests that it was a set of plates, not the book.

Kirby, Joshua. The Perspective of Architecture... 2 vol., (1st ed., London, 1761).

Langley, Batty and Thomas. Ancient Architecture Restored and Improved by A Great Variety of Grand and Useful Designs…. Soho: Batty and Thomas Langley, 1742 (2nd ed.).

Title continued: “Entirely new in the Gothick Mode For the Ornamenting of Buildings and Gardens Exceeding every Thing that’s Extant.” Title page also reports: “Exquisitely Engraved on LXIV large Quarto Copper-Plates and printed on SUPERFINE Royal Paper. Buildings in general surveyed. Artificers Works Measured and Valued. Estates in Lands, or in Buildings, Plan’d. Gardens, Parks &c laid out &c Grottos, Cascades, Temples, &c Design’d and Built, Plans and Views of Buildings &c engraved and Printed in the most Exquisite Manner By the Editors.” B. Langley authored a four page introduction entitled “A Dissertation on the Antiquity of the Principal ANCIENT BUILDINGS, that have been, and now are in this Kingdom, by Way of Introduction to the following Work.”

Original “price 15£ in sheets.” The work is contained in two books. Plates A and B carry explanations for general proportions of columns.

Langley, Batty and Thomas. The City and Country Builder’s and Workman’s Treasury of Designs…. London: J.Ilive for Thomas Langley, 1740 (1st ed). London: S. Harding, 1745 (2nd ed).

Langley, B. and T. Gothic Architecture Improved by Rules and Proportions in Many Grand Designs…. London: John Millan, 1747.

Title continued: “of Columns, Doors, Windows, Chimney-Pieces, Arcades, Colonades, Porticos, Umbrellos, Temples, and Pavillions &c. with Plans, Elevations, and Profiles; Geometrically Explained.” Plates A and B carry explanations for general proportions of columns. Plates I - LXII demonstrate embossed engravings. Original price: 15£.

Morris, Robert. Architecture Improved, in a Collection of Modern, Elegant and Useful Designs…. London: 1752 (2nd ed.)

Title continued: “From Slight and Graceful Recesses [sic], Lodges and other Decorations in Parks, Gardens, Woods or Forests, to the Portico, Bath, Observatory, and interior Ornaments of Superb Buildings. With Great Variety of Rich Embellishments for Chimneys in the Taste of INIGO JONES, MR. KENT, &c. All curiously Engraved on Fifty Copper-Plates, Octavo.” or possibly Rural Architecture (1st ed., London, 1750) or Select Architecture, London, 1755 (1st ed.)

Salmon, William, Jr. Palladio Londinensis: or The London Art of Building. (1st ed. London, 1734).

Swan, Abraham. The British Architect: or, The Builder’s Treasury of Stair-Cases. (1st ed., London, 1745)

Swan, Abraham. A Collection of Designs in Architecture. (1st ed. London, 1757).

Swan, Abraham. The Carpenter’s Complete Instruction in Several Hundred Designs. London, 1768 (an earlier edition, 1759, was published as Designs in Carpentry)

Ware, Isaac. A Complete Body of Architecture. (1st ed. London, 1756).

For more information see: "The Ownership of Architecture Books in Colonial Virginia," by Bennie Brown. Published in American Architects and Their Books to 1848, ed. by Kenneth Hafertepe and James F. O'Gorman (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001) 17-33.

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