The British Architect: Or, The Builders Treasury Of Staircases. Containing: I. An easier, more intelligible, and expeditious Method of drawing the Five Orders, than has hitherto been published, by a Scale of Twelve equal Parts, free from those troublesome Divisions call'd Aliquot Parts. Shewing also how to glue up their Columns and Capitals. II. Likewise Stair-Cases, (those most useful, ornamental, and necessary Parts of a Building, though never before sufficiently described in any Book, Ancient or Modern;) shewing their most convenient Situation, and the Form of their Ascending in the most grand Manner: With a great Variety of curious Ornaments, whereby any Gentleman may fix on what will suit him best, there being Examples of all Kinds; and necessary Directions for such Persons as are unacquainted with that Branch. III. Designs of Arches, Doors, and Windows. IV. A great Variety of New and Curious Chimney-Pieces, in the most elegant and modern Taste. V. Corbels, Shields, and other beautiful Decorations. VI. Several useful and necessary Rules of Carpentry; with the Manner of Truss'd Roofs, and the Nature of a splay'd circular Soffit, both in a straight and Circular Wall, never published before. Together with Raking Cornices, Groins, and Angle Brackets described. - The Whole being illustrated with upwards of One Hundred Designs and Examples, curiously engaved by the best Hands, on Sixty Folio Copper-Plates. By Abraham Swan, Architect.

Abraham Swan

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed for, and Sold by the Author, near the George in Portland-Street, Cavendish-Square; A. Webley, at the Bible and Crown, near Chancery-Lane, Holbourn, and Mr. Buckland, at the Buck, in Pater-noster Row., [1765?]

Physical Description

viii, 16 p., 60 pl.; 423 mm. (Folio.)


[T.p.] - The Introduction - [Text] - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

All plates are signed as designed and drawn by A(b) Swan. Most are also signed as engraved by E(dw). Rooker, one by B. Cole.


ESTC, N15368
Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library ... Early printed books, 4 (2001), nos. 3218 - 3221[editions from 1745 to 1768 but not this edition], p.2041-4.
J.G. Schimmelman, Achitectural books in early America (1999).
E. Harris and N. Savage, British Architectural Books (1990), no. 863, p. 450-2.
H. Park, A list of architectural books available in America before the revolution (1973).

Summary Note

No publication-date is given on the title-page or elsewhere in the text. But some plates carry dates, ranging from Dec 26 1744 to Feb 8 1744/5 (pl. 27-30, 32-36, 38, 39, 48-51, 53, 54). The first edition (with the imprint of Meighan and Meadows) had appeared in 1745; the second (imprint of Meighan, Meadows and Piers), in 1750; a third (imprint of Meadows, Hitch and Haws, Piers and Partner) in 1758. Harris and Savage suggest that the present edition appeared probably in 1765; ESTC, in 1762.

This work was well received, and went through several editions both in Britain and in the United States of America.

Five plates carry letter-press text (pl. 1, 3, 6, 10, 14).


An electronic reproduction was published in 2003 (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale). A microfilm version was published in 2002 (Woodbridge, Conn.: Primary Source Microfilm [imprint of Gale Group]).


The title-page is inscribed in ink, 'Thomas Windus - 1806'. Presented by E. P. W. Cooper Esq. from the Library of Sir Edwin Cooper RA, 1961.

Binding Note

20th-century half calf, marbled-papered boards; green morocco spine-label lettered 'The British Architect Treasury Of Staircases'.


Architecture - Carpentry - Stairs - Arches - Doors - Windows - Chimneys - Escutcheons - Cartouches (ornament) - Roofs - Trusses - Designs - Great Britain - History - 18th century
Pattern books - Great Britain - 18th century - Palladian - Rococo
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century


Abraham Swan, source artist, draughtsman
Edward Rooker, engraver
Benjamin Cole, engraver
Sir Edwin Cooper RA, previous owner
A. Webley, bookseller
James Buckland, bookseller
Thomas Windus, previous owner