a new American architecture
BENJAMIN, ASHER. The American Builder’s Companion; or, a new system of architecture particularly adapted to the present style of building in the United States of America
Boston: Etheridge and Bliss, 1806
4to. 44 plates. Original or contemporary calf. Worn, quite browned and stained as usual. A good, sound, unrestored copy. Half calf case.
First edition of the second book by Asher Benjamin, America’s first great writer on architecture. In the introduction, Benjamin notes that “the style of building in this country differs very considerably from that of Great Britain” and that architects who rely on European publications are wasting their money. He concludes, “we feel confident that this publication will be found to contain more useful information for the American workman than all the European works which have appeared in this country.”
“Through his books ‘late colonial’ details and designs were broadcast throughout New England … and there is scarcely a village which in moulding profiles, cornice details, church spire, or farm-house does not reflect his influence” (DAB). The plates in this work inspired countless builders, and they have been used to identify Benjamin as the architect of a number of important buildings in Massachusetts and Connecticut. “Benjamin’s plates formed a collection harmonious and almost always in perfect taste” (DAB).
Benjamin’s most popular book, The American Builder’s Companion went into six editions by 1827. A note in the second edition (Charlestown, 1811) indicates that the extent of “co-author” Raynerd’s contribution was to draw the plates. His name was omitted from the title page of the second and subsequent editions.
Provenance: the early American owner’s stamp “Wm. Cook” on upper board and title page.
Hitchcock, American Architecture Books 99.