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GRIGGS, William.

18 Plates of Ornamental Tiles Collected By the Afghan Boundary Commission.

London: Griggs & Co. [1894] Stock Code: 129429
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First and sole edition, extremely uncommon, V & A and BL only in UK, WorldCat adds another 10 locations. A striking set of plates of ornamental tiles collected by the Afghan Boundary Commission, a joint Anglo-Russian project, active between 1884 and 1886, to set Afghanistan's northern border. A team travelled through Herat, Bala Murghab, Mazar-i-Sharif and then over the Hindu Kush; during the course of their journey the team picked up a number of artefacts including textiles, pottery, and coins, of which many were donated to museums in England including the British Museum and V & A. Charles Yate, who travelled with the commission, described several buildings in Herat, which bore traces of their "once fine tile or mosaic work of beautiful and artistic designs... when new they must have been marvellously handsome" (Yate, p. 30-32). These plates give examples of some of the most attractive tile designs that the commission came across in Northern Afghanistan.

William Griggs was a dedicated promoter of South Asia art and, in 1884, launched the lavishly illustrated Journal of Indian Art and Industry, which featured contributions from William Morris, John Ruskin and Rudyard Kipling's father, John Lockwood Kipling; it ran for over thirty years, continuing after Griggs' death in 1911. 13 of these plates appeared in volume V of the journal. Griggs's printing workshop, which he began in Peckham in 1868, proved an ambitious but extremely successful venture. "His pioneering work in the wide diffusion of colour printing led a contemporary to claim that, but for his 'brilliant and painstaking work, chromolithography as a means of illustrating books would be almost a lost art, like that of coloured aquatint'" (ODNB).

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Small folio. Original green morocco-grained cloth portfolio, front cover titled in silver.


18 chromolithographed plates - (A-D, 46-56, 88-90) - all plates bearing the caption: "Tile: From water colour drawing from the collection of the Afghan Boundary Commission".


Portfolio split at extremities of spine (old tape repair at head), the plates clean, the colours remaining fresh and vibrant. A very good copy.


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