Saturday, June 23, 2007

A plate of Belgian lace

I have a chromolithograph plate, for which I am trying to find the book it illustrates. I found the folio-size plate (12 X 17 inches), matted and framed (since removed), hanging in a resale shop, and walked out with it for $7. Bargain? I don't know for sure, but I think so. I only know that it reminded me of a trip to Belgium in 1994 and walking through the old city of Bruges along the aged cobblestone streets, window shopping for chocolate and lace with my wife. I thought she might like the old plate I found the other day. She did. It may have a new home in our home, but first I want to find out something about where it came from. Depending on value, it may have a new home elsewhere via ebay.

The title of the plate is Brussels Lace, by V. Washer of Brussels. In small print above the title, and just below the chromolithograph, are some good bibliographic clues that help identify the book from which the plate may have originated:

London. Chromolithographed and published by Day & Son,
Lithographers to the Queen
J.B. Waring, direx.t

Using this information in a keyword search, I was able to locate a few copies of a book, or set of books, that seem to fit the bill for my plate:
Masterpieces of Industrial Art & Sculpture at the International Exposition, 1862 (3-volume set), edited by J.B. Waring. There are more than 300 chromolithograph plates in the set. Other books I found were ruled out if the number of plates in the book was less than than 109, the number assigned to my plate. The International Exhibit was like a World's Fair type of event, and was held in London in 1851 and 1861. Images, like the one below, of the 1862 Exhibit can be found at the Science and Society Picture Library site.

I may have even found the lithographer who actually did the chromolithographs for the book and, thus, the plate now in my possession. Researching the International Exhibition of 1862 led me to a related book, Victorian Decorated Trade Bindings 1830-1880, by Edmund M.B. King, Oak Knoll Press (2003). An excerpt of the book referenced William Robert Tymms, artist and engraver, who created the chromolithographs for J. B. Waring’s Masterpieces of the Industrial Art & Sculpture at the International Exhibition, 1862.

All I need now is the final piece of proof that my detective work is on target. Stay tuned...

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