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Vetusta Monumenta: Quae Ad Rerum Britannicarum Memoriam Conservandam Societas Antiquariorum Londini Sumptu Suo Edenda Curavit. Volumen Primum. (-Sextum.)

Society of Antiquaries of London

RA Collection: Book

Record number




Londini:: Anno Domini MDCCXLVII. (-1906)

Physical Description

7 vols.; 540 mm. (Folio.)

General Note

Vol. I: 4, 4, 3, [1] p., 68 pl. (5 dble.), [2] pl. (dble., fold.). In the sequence of pl. 1-68 the dble. pl. are nos. [16], 47, 48, 62, 63. Nine plates in this sequence do not carry engraved numbers, viz. 4, 8, 16, 27, 50-52, 63, 65 (but pl. [50-52] are numbered 'No. 1 (2, 3)'); in some copies other plates (in early states) are unnumbered.. Plates 9-12 are additionally numbered 1-4; pl. 29-33 are also lettered as A-E; pl. 37, 38, 43 are also numbered 1-3; pl. 53-56, 58-60 are also lettered and numbered A, B, [blank], IIII, C, D, E. Plate 5 and pl. 20 are each printed from two coppers. In some copies pl. XIX is misnumbered XVII, and XXIX is written XXVIV. Some copies include a list of members of the Society; and the RIBA cataloguer states that some copies include 'earlier title-leaves published before the volume was complete'. - Vol. II: 4, 4, 2, 2, 4, 2, [2], 15, [1], 8, 5, [1], 7, [1], 7, [1], 5, [1], 2, 13, [1], 5, [1], 7, [1], 2, 2, 3, [1] p., 55 pl. (6 dble.): [1] illus. The first page 4 is misnumbered '2'. Plates [4-6] do not carry engraved numbers; pl. 29-35 are additionally numbered 1-7. The dble.pl. are nos. [6], 9, 26, 27, 43, 44. In the Royal Academy's copy after plate 27 there is bound in an additional plate 'supplementary to plate 27', dated 1804. - Vol. III: 3, [1], 17, [1], 6, 5, [1], 4, 4, 14, 7, [1], 2, [2], 44, 9, [1], 13, [1], 2, 1, [1], 15, [1] p., 44 pl. (9 dble.): illus. The dble. pl. are 7, 9, 18-24. - Vol. IV: . - Vol. V: 3, [1], [2], [2], [2], [2], 10, 7, [1], 2, 4, 17, [1], 5, [1], 11, [1] p., 69 pl. (2 dble.): illus. The dble. pl. are 47, 62.


Vol. I: [T.p.] - Rerum Elenchus: Quo tempus et ordo, quibus incisae sunt, exponuntur - [Pl. 1-68] - Viri Illustris, Roberti Cottoni ... Effigies ... Item Binae Tabulae ... [on pl. 66-68] - De Codice Geneseos Cottoniano Dissertatio ... - [2 unnumbered, fold. pl.] - A Brief Account Of The Court of Wards and Liveries. - Vol. II: [T.p.] - Table Of Plates In Volume II - [Plates 1-55, interspersed with explanatory text]. - Vol. III: [T.p.] - Table Of Plates In Volume III - [Plates 1-44, interspersed with explanatory text]. - Vol. IV: . - Vol. V: [T.p.] - Table Of Plates In Volume V - [Plates 1-69, interspersed with explanatory text]. - Vol. VI:

Responsibility Note

Several of the contributions in Volumes I-V are signed by their writers. Authors include Catherine Downes, Joseph Ayloffe, Richard Gough, J. Schnebbelie, David Wells, John Douglas, William Lumby, Thomas Astle, Thomas Walford, Lewis Majendie, Thomas Amyot, William Capon, J.H. Markland, George Ormerod, Charles Wellbeloved, George Gwilt, Edward John Rudge.

Most plates in Volumes I-V are signed by draughtsmen or source-artists and engravers (in Vol. I. by draughtsmen 'B.M.', Car. Woodfield, Badslade, W. Stukeley, I. Talman, Jacobus West, Bartoli, G. Vertue, A. Gordon, Francis Drake, G. Lynn pater et filius, Gulielmus Bogdani, Gulielmus Haiward, J. Gascoyne and I. Whood and by engravers George Vertue and Vdr. Gucht; in Volume II by draughtsmen or source-artists I. Evelyn, R. van Bleeck, G. Vertue, C. Mitley, F. Drake, Arthurus Pond, James Basire, I.B. Cipriani, Wenceslaus Hollar, F. Cotes, J. Carter, Catherine Downes, Saml. Lysons, Schnebbelie, A. de Cardonell, Thomas Ricketts, and by engravers G. Vertue, J. Green, James Basire, J. Pye and James Watson; in Vol. III. by draughtsmen Schnebbelie, J. Carter, H. Emlyn, Lumby, J. Johnson, B. Longmate jr., S.H. Grimm, W. Davey, and by engravers J. Basire and B. Longmate; in Volume V by draughtsmen F. Nash, L. Vulliamy, R. Smirke, William Capon, William Daniell, T. Willement, G. Gwilt, J.H. Nixon, Anne Rudge and Edward John Rudge, and by the engraver James Basire [pl. 51-60 are signed as drawn on stone by R.H. Sharp, F. Nash or S. Sharp and printed by C. Hullmandel or Engelmann, Graf, Coindet & Co.]). The illustration in Vol. II is unsigned; most of those in Vol. III are signed as drawn by J. Schnebbelie and engraved by J. Basire; those in Vol. V are unsigned.

The printer of Volume V is named on the title-page verso: 'John Bowyer Nichols And Son'.


ESTC, T106127
RIBA, Early printed, 4 (2001), 3115-3121
B. Adams, London illustrated (1983), 36. B.J.N. Edwards, 'George Vertue's engraving of Clitheroe Castle', in Antiquaries journal, 64 (1984), p. 366-372 [on plate 13 of Vol. II].
M. Myrone, 'Graphic antiquarianism in eighteenth-century Britain: the career and reputation of George Vertue', in Producing the past, ed. M. Myrone and L. Pelz (1999)
J. Evans, A history of the Society of Antiquaries (1956)
R. Sweet, Antiquaries: the discovery of the past in eighteenth-century Britain (2004)
S. Smiles, The image of antiquity - ancient Britain and the Romantic imagination (1994)
S. Piggott, Ancient Britons and the antiquarian imagination (1989).

Summary Note

The dates of publication of the seven volumes were: I. 1747; II. 1789; III. 1796; IV. 1815; V. 1835; VI. 1885; VII. Pts. 1-4 1893-1906. In addition two volumes of indices were published, in 1810 ('An Index To The First Three Volumes Of Vetusta Monumenta') and 1897 ('An index to the fourth, fifth and sixth volumes of Vestusta monumenta').

In Volume II Ayloffe's account of Westminster Abbey, following plates 29-35, has its own title page, which reads, 'An Account Of Some Ancient Monuments in Westminster Abbey. By Sir Joseph Ayloffe ... Read at the Society of Antiquaries March 12, 1778. London, Printed By J. Nichols, Printer To the Society Of Antiquaries. M.DCC.LXXX'.

Although the title pages are in Latin, the texts are almost entirely in English.

Volumes I-V are compilations of plates published earlier over a period of years: almost all plates carry the publisher's imprint of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a succession of publication dates (Vol. I: 1718-1747; Vol. II: 1748-1789; Vol. III 1790-1796; Vol. V: 1816-1835).

The plates show chiefly Roman, Romanesque and Gothic antiquities and monuments in Britain, with some views and plans of buildings.


A microfilm version was published in 2002 (Woodbridge, Conn.: Primary Source Microfilm [imprint of Gale Group]).


Volumes I-V were presented by the Society in 1843 (acknowledged RA Council Minutes, IX, 304). The unbound sheets from Vol. VI were purchased in 1910 (see 'Librarian's Report', RA Annual Report for 1910, p. 42).

Copy Note

Imperfect; wanting Volume VII; plate 15 of Volume II; and all of Volume VI except for the following in unbound sheets: 'Notice of a drawing [by Carlo Fontana] in the Royal Library at Windsor, representing the Chair of St Peter at Rome', by Arthur Ashpitel ... read April 11, 1861 ... with observations by Alexander Nesbitt ... read Jan. 16, 1868' (pl. XL-XLII); 'A memoir of the Painted Chamber in the Palace of Westminster ... by John Gage Rokewode ... read 12 May 1842' (with etchings after drawings by C.A. Stothard); 'Descriptive remarks on illuminations in certain ancient Irish manuscripts,' by the Rev. James Henthorn Todd; and 'Two memoirs on the "Evangelia Quator" once belonging to the Abbey of Lindau and now to the Earl of Ashburnham ...' by Alexander Nesbitt ... and Edward Maunde Thompson.

Binding Note

Rebacked and recornered in 1998, retaining 19th-century brown cloth-covered boards and black morocco spine-labels lettered 'Vetusta Monument'; spines lettered 'I(-V)' and 'RA'. With Volume III is bound the Society's An Index To The First Three Volumes Of Vetusta Monumenta (1810).


Antiquities, Roman - Antiquities, British - Ruins - Great Britain - History - Romanesque - Gothic
Surveys - Views - Great Britain - 18th century - 19th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century - 19th century


Charles Woodfield, draughtsman
Badslade, draughtsman
William Stukeley, draughtsman
John Talman, draughtsman
James West, draughtsman
Bartoli, draughtsman
George Vertue, draughtsman, engraver
Alexander Gordon, draughtsman
Francis Drake, draughtsman
George Lynn the elder, draughtsman
William Bogdani, draughtsman
Michael van der Gucht, engraver
John Evelyn, draughtsman
Richard van Bleeck, draughtsman
C. Mitley, draughtsman
Arthur Pond, draughtsman
James Basire the elder, draughtsman
James Basire the younger, draughtsman, engraver
Giovanni Battista Cipriani RA, draughtsman
Wenceslaus Hollar, draughtsman
Francis Cotes RA, draughtsman
John Carter, draughtsman
Catherine Downes, draughtsman
Samuel Lysons, draughtsman
Jacob Christopher Schnebbelie, draughtsman
Adam de Cardonell, draughtsman
John Green, engraver
John Pye, engraver
James Watson, engraver
Henry Emlyn, draughtsman
William Lumby, draughtsman
John Johnson, draughtsman
Barak Longmate the younger, draughtsman, engraver
Samuel Hieronymous Grimm, draughtsman
William Davey, draughtsman
Frederick Nash, draughtsman
Lewis Vulliamy, draughtsman
Richard Smirke, draughtsman
William Capon, draughtsman
William Daniell RA, draughtsman
Thomas Willement Junior, draughtsman
George Gwilt the younger, draughtsman
James Henry Nixon, draughtsman
Mrs. Anne Rudge, draughtsman
Edward John Rudge, draughtsman
Richard Hey Sharp, draughtsman
Samuel Sharp, draughtsman
Charles Joseph Hullmandel, lithographic printer
Godefroi Engelmann, lithographic printer
Jean Graf, lithographic printer
Sir Joseph Ayloffe Bt., Account Of Some Ancient Monuments in Westminster Abbey
Thomas Ricketts, draughtsman
William Hayward, draughtsman
J. Gascoigne, draughtsman
Isaac Whood, draughtsman
Richard Gough
David Wells
John Douglas Bishop of Salisbury
Thomas Astle
Thomas Walford
Lewis Majendie
Thomas Amyot
James Heywood Markland
George Ormerod
Charles Wellbeloved
Society of Antiquaries of London, publisher, donor
Engelmann, Graf, Coindet & Co., lithographic printer