Artisanal Instruction for 18th c. Women


Art’s master-piece: or, A companion for the ingenious of either sex. In two parts. I. The art of limning and painting in oil, &c. in all particulars, viz. drawing and painting faces, bodies, garments, landskip, preparing and laying on colours, also colouring mezzo-tinto prints, gilding on wood, Metals and leather. The newest experiment in Japaning, to imitate the Indian way, plain and in speckles, rock-work, figures, &c. Receipts for making the several sorts of varnishes, colours, &c. To make artificial tortoiseshell, to dye or stain ivory, horn, bone, bristles, feathers, and sundry sorts of woods for cabinets. The mystery of dying silks, stuffs, woollen and linen cloth. To take spots, stains, pitch, tar and iron-moulds out of silks stuffs, linen and woollen, and to recover faded silks linen, &c. The art of perfuming and beautifying. Divers physical and chirurgical receipts. To make London powder-ink, other powder-inks, and the shining Japan-ink. With many other notable things. II. The art of making glass of chrystal, of all sorts and colours, and to prepare the materials. To make glass of lead of many beautiful colours. To make enamel of divers colours, for gold, silver, or other metals. To make chalcedony, like jaspar and other lucid stones, &c. and to prepare materials for the work. To make artificial precious stones in equal beauty to the true; and to colour globes of glass on the inside. The art of painting glass in oil and anealing and burning on the colour. The art of gilding divers forts of metals. Instructions to cast figures in wax, plaister, purest metals, &c. leaves, flowers, medals, and other matters worthy of note. To which are added many curiosities and rare secrets, known to few and highly profitable and pleasant. The second edition. By C.K.

London: Printed for G. Conyers at the Golden Ring, and J. Sprint at the Blue Bell in Little-Britain, ca. 1701


Duodecimo: 166, [2] p. Collation: A-G12

"SECOND" EDITION as per title page. (The 1st ed. is dated 1697. This and two other editions are conjecturally dated by ESTC).

A fine copy in a later binding of three-quarter calf and marbled boards. Contents in fine condition with just some light browning to the verso of the final leaf. The lower corners of a few leaves have been discreetly snipped by a couple of millimeters. Woodcut frontispiece present and in fine shape.

A very rare edition with 3 copies recorded worldwide: Bodleian, McMaster Univ., Yale Center for British Art. 15 editions were printed between 1697 and 1792, all of which are extremely rare. Only 1 other edition (ESTC T118982, ca. 1720)exists in more than 3 copies.

An early 18thc. English artisanal "book of secrets", designed for both men and women. The instructions, formulas, and recipes apply to the making of fine art (drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.), decorative objects (including metalwork), and furniture; as well as practical household information (ex. how to remove iron mold from linen, how to mend broken glass), and personal fashion (painting garments, for instance), and style (perfuming Tobacco-based snuff with flowers). There are also medicinal recipes (for toothache, kidney stones, corns, etc.).

 The recipes and processes are described in minute detail and involve an array of presumably hard to come by ingredients (such as rare minerals and metals for making alloys.)

The book is remarkable for the anonymous author's explicit statement, announced on the title, that the book was designed for both men and women.

"At the end of the seventeenth century, the arts of beautification expanded beyond cosmetics to include an array of household aesthetic improvements along the lines of Woolley's advice to "adorn" rooms with decorative 'fancies.' These artisanal skills were frequently aimed at imitating the fashionable furniture and ornaments borne into London by the East India Company's booming trade in chinoiserie. Situated at the crossroads of artistic production, traditionally an area of male expertise, and domestic improvement, a growing sphere of female skill, this emergent category of domestic aesthetics was addressed equally to both sexes in the early eighteenth century. The manual Arts' Master-piece, for example, is specifically subtitled 'A Companion for the Ingenious of either Sex'. The table of contents promises instruction in such skills as 'the newest Experiment in Japaning, to imitate the Indian way'; how to 'make Artificial Tortoiseshell, to Dye or Stain Ivory, Horn, Bone, Bristles, Feathers, and sundry sorts of Woods for Cabinets'; solving 'the Mystery of Dying Silks, Stuffs, Woollen and Linnen Cloth'; and mastering 'the Art of Perfuming and Beautifying'. Female cosmetic arts are included in this pantheon of 'ingenious' expertise, in a section entitled, 'Cosmeticks, or Curious Receipts for Beautifying the Face, Hands, or any Part of the Body.'"(Jenkins, "Nature to Advantage Drest": Chinoiserie, Aesthetic Form, and the Poetry of Subjectivity in Pope and Swift, in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Fall 2009), pp. 75-94

ESTC N16286