This pattern book is almost certainly the catalogue of an early 19th Century travelling brass founder's agent, illustrating the various types of metal fittings used by furniture makers and related craftsmen. The centre of production for decorative furniture mounts in this period was Birmingham (see N. Goodison, 'Metal-Work Pattern Books', Furniture History, XI, 1975, pp. 1-30). The agent would have been independent, and as a result there is no foundry name but only initials, and the pages are neither consecutive nor of matching format. By preserving the anonymity of the supplier, the agent ensured his monopoly.
Several volumes of similar pattern books are known, one of the largest collections being in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Indeed there are remarkable similarities between some plates from the present lot and a volume in that collection, pressmark M.61g, acc. no. E.129-1896 (illustrated in N. Goodison, ibid, no. 18, pl. 38). Both have watermarks dated 1801 and it is possible that plates from these two catalogues were produced by the same foundry. Other plates from the present piece are watermarked for J. Holyoake 1797 with a fleur-de-lys, Evans 1794, and 1804 with an armorial of British symbols.
The majority of patterns in the present book are for frames and straight mouldings, together with commode handles. As in the Victoria and Albert Museum example there are a number of nationalist symbols, but here they are all British: for example a lion overcoming the French fleur de lys (f.21) and the feathers of the Prince of Wales. This might indicate the demands of the British domestic market where others were focused on the lucrative European trade. It is no suprise then that in the present catalogue an elaborately detailed, and very catholic, plaque depicting the Crucifixion (f.13) is offered at only 12/- per dozen, the same price as a dozen 2 x 2 inch looking glasses (f.9).