In 1800 William Birch had produced the first American color plate book, The City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania North America, as it Appeared in the Year 1800. The work was a great success, in spite of its high price, and it gave Birch the encouragement he needed to continue. Sadly, Country Seats, issued a little over eight years later, was a commercial failure.

While the Philadelphia work captured the civic pride and enthusiasm of a young nation, Country Seats, argued Philadelphia iconography authority Martin Snyder, "was much more a work born of Birch's individual background, ambitions, and failures. It was, in fact, the product of a desire to raise the prevailing levels of taste in homes and of a desire to identify himself with the leisurely and wealthy life externally portrayed in his pictures."

The twenty color plates, a combination of line and stipple engraving and delicate coloring, depict gentlemen's country estates in Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Louisiana. Relatively few complete copies of the book survive.

Issued to subscribers in 4 pts., 1808-9. The subsequent trade ed., of which this is a copy, has copyright notice, dated 20 Jan. 1809.

The 20 plates include both, which are illustrated. Most plates have legend: Drawn, engraved & published by W. Birch. The 10th plate is "painted by T. Birch;" the 12th is "drawn by G. Birch."

Lacking 3 11. letter-press descr. of plates.

[4] leaves, 20 leaves of plates (some col.) ; 26 x 31 cm. (4to)


Martin P. Snyder, "William Birch: his 'Country seats of the United States,'" Pennsylvania magazine of history and biography v.81 (1957) p. 225-254

Sabin 5531. Bennett, p. 15

Publisher: Springland near Bristol, Pennsylvania: s.n





ISBN-10: N/A

Date Added: 2019-04-20

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