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Webb, John, 1611–1672
John Webb account book : manuscript.
England, 1630s.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
NA25 .W43 1630
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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Archives & Manuscripts
Formerly attributed to Inigo Jones.
Selected exhibitions: "Compass and rule : architecture as mathematical practice in early modern England, 1550-1750" (Yale Center for British Art, February 18, 2010-May 30, 2010).
Bound in contemporary parchment, with parchment ties (partially intact).
At least two different examples of antique laid paper (probably linen) were used to construct the notebook. There are several examples of partial watermarks found near the gutter of the binding, difficult to identify.
This record book, in the hand of Inigo Jones's assistant and kinsman, John Webb, was found among the timbers of Webb's house at Butleigh, Somerset, after it was demolished in the nineteenth century. Architects often used such record books to make site notes for ongoing projects, keep track of prices, or record practical design and construction solutions for future reference. Such records also served as an aide-memoire to help with quantity surveying, that is, in calculating the amount and cost of materials or workers needed or used in a building.
Webb's notes on pages 15v-16r are representative of the utility of the manuscript. The tables and calculations shown here remind Webb how to work out the number of square feet and square inches in a given area and to convert standard dimensions: “secondlie know that in a foott square flat is 144 inches.” The pasted slip on the facing page (16r) converts the price of brickwork per square “rod” (16 1/2 feet) with the equivalent price per square foot. The final two rules for determining the amount of brick in chimneys are alternatives with different results, one of them leading to higher pricing than the other.
Such reckoning aides and rule books would be printed in great numbers later in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but before then, practitioners had to make their own. This is one of the earliest surviving examples.
Subject Terms:
Architects -- Great Britain.
Architecture -- Great Britain.
Building -- Great Britain.
Building materials -- Great Britain.
Jones, Inigo, 1573-1652.
Webb, John, 1611-1672.
Account books.
Jones, Inigo, 1573-1652, associated name.
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