London: Richard Adams and John Wren, 1749. 8vo. [ii], xviii, 390 pp., including errata on the verso of the final leaf. FIRST EDITION, SECOND ISSUE. With 32 copper plates. Contemporary calf, morocco spine label; interior excellent. From the library of John Barton Winton with his small engraved bookplate. Item #17430
First edition, second issue under this title, the first issue having been printed the prior year (the sole difference is the date on the title page and the errata), and first published as Exaction detected in 1747. This is an extremely valuable work for historians of the building trade, especially brickwork, for its variety of information including sizes, types and prices of brick, tiles, lime, sands, mortar, plaster, lath, nails, etc. The plates are also of interest, showing primarily details of brickwork. “Written for the use of gentlemen, stewards and workmen in general, and particularly for such landlords and tenants who are subject to the repair of buildings.” Of particular interest is Langley’s coverage of not only the prices and quality of building materials, but also of the questionable practices of workmen and those who sell such material. He is also concerned with potential legal issues that may arise in construction and advises readers to be as careful as possible in order to avoid disputes.
Langley’s book is extensively quoted by Nathaniel Lloyd in his classic study History of English brickwork. Like many of Langley’s works, this was advertised in the major American cities (Boston, Philadelphia) in the eighteenth century.
Langley (1696-1751) is today remembered for his numerous published works, especially his architectural pattern books. He started as a gardener before moving into landscape design and then into architecture. He created the designs for a number of gothic-type structures with classical lines and proportions, which influenced designers and builders as far away as America (Mt. Vernon, for example, relied on Langley’s drawings for a good part of its design). Langley also ran his own academy of architectural drawing.