Boston: Benjamin B. Mussey, 1845. First edition. Hardcover. Quarto. 83pp., lxvi plates. Bound in calf with gilt lettering on black leather label, and gilt ruling on spine.
Distinguished work designed principally for builders residing at a distance from cities without the assistance of a regular architect. Contains the necessary and correct practical knowledge of architecture. The work contains all the elements and details of the art, from the most simple to those most difficult and complicated. With elaborate appendices, intelligible and in accordance with the practice of the day. Though American habits and economy have been sincerely considered, deviations from style and practice of Europe have been held to minimum. Benjamin gratefully offers many examples from valuable works of architecture while freely following his own judgment and experience when suggesting alterations and ideas that seemed useful to him. (From preface).
The examples used in this volume include Grecian and Roman architecture with an abundance of architectural details, e.g. pedestals, porticos, doors and windows, mouldings, consoles, shop fronts, chimneys, windows, etc. Illustrated with sixty-six engraved plates. Contains a "Table of Data" and an elaborate "Dictionary of Technical Terms" at rear.
Binding with light wear along edges and reinforced white linen tape at inside front and back covers. Printed catalog entry from Dauber & Pine booksellers on inside front cover with dealer name inked below. Damp staining at foredge of latter part of the book (1/2 x 4") and around lower part of the book starting at page 59, both remaining in margins. Plates in very good condition. Good to very good condition. Item #49346
Asher Benjamin (1773-1845) was born in Hartland, Litchfield County, Connecticut, but moved with his family to Greenfield, Massachusetts as a child. For thirty years he worked as a carpenter up and down the Connecticut River Valley, building and designing homes and churches. By 1795 he had become respected as a designer well enough to construct the circular staircase in Hartford's Old State House which boasted, as he claimed, New England's first circular handrail. In 1796 he hired a team of joiners to build what is now the Greenfield (Massachusetts) Public Library.
Though not a proponent necessarily of Greek Revival, he was canny enough in his guidebooks to ride its wave of popularity. By 1839 printings of his "Practical House Carpenter "numbered 6,000: an enormous number for a work of its time, place, and application, and in the meantime he had authored "The Practice of Architecture" and "The Builder's Guide." The Boston Housewright Society proofread his books and pronounced them "better calculated to assist the American Builder than any that has come within our knowledge."
In 1837 Benjamin helped to found the American Institute of Architects. He designed, among many other buildings in Boston, several homes on Beacon Hill as well as the Old West and Charles Street churches. His influence is evident in the innumerable buildings -homes, barns, churches, civic buildings- designed according to his specifications throughout the Eastern Seaboard.