Antiquarian Auctions

SA Auction #83 begins on 18 Jun 2020

US Auction #2 ends in

Benjamin CROSBY and Co. (publishers). – John PHILLIPS.

Crosby's Builders' New Price Book, for 1811, containing a correct account of all the present prices

Jane Austen's first publisher (almost)

Published: R. Crosby, London, 1811

Edition: 17th edition

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Reserve: $100

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Estimate: $250-350

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CROSBY and Co. (publishers). – John PHILLIPS.

Crosby's Builders' New Price Book, for 1811, containing a correct account of all the present prices allowed by the most eminent surveyors, to bricklayers, carpenters, joiners, slaters, plumbers, masons, plasterers, painters, glaziers, smiths, carvers, pavoirs, thatchers and paper-hangers … the Seventeenth Edition [Corrected to the Day of Publication, May the 1st].

London: printed for R. Crosby and Co. [by] Plummer and Brewis, 1811. Tall 12mo bound in sixes (8 x 4 7/8in; 203 x 124mm).  Pp. [1-]214. Uncut. 2 engraved plates. (Plates spotted, tears to first plate, pp.205/206 loosely inserted.)

Original wrappers, contemporary manuscript titling to upper cover (backstrip chipped and split with loss, edges bumped).

Provenance: J. Knight of Aberystwyth, Wales (early inscription).

A fascinating and very rare survivor in excellent unrestored condition: there were at least 57 different editions of the price book published between about 1800 and 1858. They allowed employer and worker to agree fixed rates for given jobs and standard prices for materials. All editions are now rare as they were an essential tool. They were in constant use and consequently the vast majority of copies were quite literally worn out.

The present example, the 17th edition, offers a penetrating glimpse into the building trade as it stood on 1st May 1811. Things had changed sufficiently by the 20th September to warrant the publication of a new edition (the 18th). Taken as a whole, the ebb and flow of economic forces, labour, and demand are all plotted in great detail by the variations recorded in these rare price books.

The Jane Austen connection is very tangential, and not very relevant, but is a fact nonetheless. She sold the rights to Susan to Crosby's in 1803, but the publishers 'sat on' the manuscript and never published it. She subsequently bought back the rights, and it was published in a modified form after her death.

No other copies recorded, but see OCLC 80976077 for the 18th edition of September 1811.

  • Binding Condition: acceptable
  • Overall Condition: acceptable
  • Size: 8 x 4 7/8in; 203 x 124mm
  • Name: Shadowrock Rare Books
  • Contact Person: Adam Langlands
  • Country: United States
  • Email: adamlanglands@gmail.com
  • Telephone: 001-860-248-1547
  • Preferred Payment Methods: Paypal, US$ checks and wire transfers, major credit cards through paypal
  • Trade Associations: AA Approved


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