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Resources: Preservation Library: Catalogs and Carpenter's Guides

American Builder's Companion, by Asher Benjamin, N.Y.: Dover, 1969.
A reprint of the 6th edition of Benjamin's work first published in 1806. Benjamin, a prominent New England architect of the early 19th century, wrote many architectural books which served as inspiration and specification guides to many builders and carpenters in the New England region. This book serves as an excellent barometer of the tastes of the period.

 

The Architecture of Country Houses, by Andrew J. Downing, N.Y.: Dover, 1969. Republication of an 1850 work.
Downing, a nurseryman by trade, became a great popularizer of American styles through his books on landscape gardening, cottage residences, and this one. The core of this book is the collection of designs he presents (not his own) for thirteen cottages, seven farm houses and fourteen villas. Around these he expounds on a variety of subjects ranging from the theoretical section on "The Real Meaning of Architecture" to the practical section on "Warming and Ventilating."

 

A Victorian Homebuilder's Guide, by George E. Woodward and Edward G. Thompson, N.Y.: Dover, 1988.
An unabridged republication of the work originally published by New York architect G.E. Woodward in 1869 under the title, Woodward's National Architect. He presents 20 designs for contemporary houses, many of which are accompanied by very detailed floor and section plans. Many also have carpentry, masonry, and plumbing specifications.

 

Hints on Household Taste: The Classic Handbook of Victorian Interior Decoration, by Charles L. Eastlake, N.Y.: Dover, 1969.
A republication of the 1878 4th edition of this work. Its purpose: "to suggest some fixed principles of taste" and help people to develop the faculty of distinguishing good from bad design. His is the philosophy of a British arbiter of taste in design of furniture, door knockers, carpets, wall coverings, picture frames. This work was very popular in America. Many illustrations of such things as entrance halls, tile pavements, upholstery.

 

Craftsman Homes: Architecture and Furnishings of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, by Gustav Stickley, N.Y.: Dover, 1979.
A reprint of the 1909 second edition, this is a presentation of designs which appeared in The Craftsman, a journal of the period. Some house designs, but mostly designs of the accoutrements: porches, terraces, cobblestones, garden gates, halls and stairways, wall spaces, floors, furniture, metal work, fabrics and needlework.

 

Exterior Decoration: A Treatise on the Artistic Use of Colors in the Ornamentation of Buildings, Philadelphia: The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, 1976.
This book's purpose is to "make available rare primary documents on 19th-century architecture and decoration for which curators, collectors, architects and preservationists have a practical need." A large coffee-table book, it consists of gorgeous illustrations of Victorian houses, each of which is presented repeatedly in its setting with different paint and trim colors.

 

Homes and Interiors of the 1920s, N.Y.: Sterling, 1987.
Republication of a 1923 catalog of Morgan Woodwork Organization house plans originally published under the title: Building with Assurance. A fascinating and curious mix of design specifications, architectural plans and taste dicta for those planning and building homes between the two World Wars. Lots of illustrations of house and room layouts, and specifications for door and hardware designs. Pronouncements on what elements the home should have: "Have a breakfast nook in your home if possible." Lovely illustrations of home styles with plans. Useful and entertaining - for those who own such homes today.

 

The Well-Appointed Bath, edited by Charles Fisher III, Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1989.
Reprint of two catalogs of bathroom fixtures from the early 20th century. Includes pedestal sinks, enameled double-shell tubs, colored porcelains, ceramic tiles, marble finishes. Of historic interest to all; of practical interest to renovators.