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THE ARCHITECTURAL COLLECTION OF JOHN WATSON
In the early 1960s I spent four years of my schooldays living in a Georgian mansion in rural Buckinghamshire. It was there that I came to appreciate and admire the 18th-century English architectural form and landscape. Leaving school, I became involved in the construction of private houses and soon I found myself seeking out contemporary material concerning their design and construction over the centuries.
My library has been built up over the past 25 years trawling specialist and general booksellers, in their shops and at fairs. Over this time I have made many friends and met many characters in the antiquarian book trade. I thank them all for their patience and encouragement.
The collection, reflecting my interests, consists mostly of illustrated working books: builders' and architectural pattern books, gardening titles and related subjects from the mid-17th to mid-19th-centuries. I have had great pleasure from all my books, but if asked to pick out a few less obvious items, there are a few I would particularly wish to mention.
My copy of John Darling's The Carpenter's Rule made Easie (lot 9) is reputed to have been kept in a workman's toolbox for more than 200 years. Unimpressive being just tables, it is yet a lovely old and rare book with a real 300-year-old feel and look.
The first edition of Godfrey Richards' translation of Palladio's First Book of Architecture (lot 52) is a well-illustrated pattern book and was printed three years before The Great Fire of London. It is one of the few 17th-century books on architecture in English.
Both the two books by Joseph Gandy contain aquatint plates of house designs akin to those of Frank Lloyd Wright more than 100 years later (lot 13). Gandy was definitely ahead of his time.
John Claudius Loudon's The Laying out of Cemetries (lot 34) cannot be on a popular subject and probably many have been lost over the years. I have never seen another one catalogued.
So it is with some sadness that now I part with these 'old friends', and I hope that the new custodians get the same pleasure from them as I have over the years.