Illustrations of the textile manufactures of India

Illustrations of the textile manufactures of India

[Forbes Watson, John, 1827-1892]

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Publisher: London: 1881. Science and Art Department of the Committee of Council on Education, South Kensington Museum [later the Victoria &
Book Id: 40731

Description

85 plates in gold and silver and a multitude of colors illustrating 119 Indian handwoven textiles, with tissues, + title page. No text, except detailed captions on each plate. Beautifully bound in yellow cloth with gilt title on spine and on yellow leather cover label. T.e.g. 48.5 x 33 cm. Title page and first tissue creased and foxed; a little intermittent foxing elsewhere, but generally a gorgeous book. **The lead description in OCLC attributes this extraordinary work to William Morris, but that is an error. Both the Dictionary of National Biography and a Bernard Quaritch catalogue of 1883 name John Forbes Watson as the author. He was Reporter on the Products of India from 1858 and Director of the India Museum until 1879. He was an immensely enthusiastic student of Indian textiles and patterns. He and his predecessor, John Forbes Royle, assembled and classified large collections of these materials. In the 1860s and 1870s many hundreds of actual samples were organized into multi-volume sets that were distributed to British textile centers like Liverpool and Manchester for use by schools and manufacturers, though this may not have been their original purpose. Ultimately, that led to the collapse of much of the native textile industry in India, as the far-cheaper machine-made fabrics from Britain supplanted the handmade ones that were their inspiration. For a thorough account of this history see Deborah Swallow's excellent article, "The India Museum and the British-India Textile Trade in the Late Nineteenth Century" (Textile History, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 29-45, 1999). The present book, printed by William Griggs (1832-1911), photo-lithographer, was an offshoot of those earlier efforts. The plates required between two and at least eight impressions for each illustration and are high up among the very most beautiful examples of color printing of any age. The 1883 Quaritch catalogue mentioned above states that only 45 sets were produced. The OCLC description mentions 105 plates, but another copy in this country also has 85, and the copy at the V&A has 87. Most likely, what few copies exist were assembled at different times and vary in the numbers of plates present. **Free domestic or international shipping with direct order.


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