Hearn's Rudiments - a pair of contemporary Sammelbands, containing 12 rare Regency pattern-cutting manuals, including Hearn's system complete with variants.

London: Printed and Sold for the Author, 13 Crown Court, Little Russell Street, Covent Garden, and other addresses, 1818-23 Stock Code: 128991
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"I shall... expect you to be provided with a tape inch measure" - the direct measure system, the democratization of fashion, and origins of ready-to-wear

"Wise is the cutter who prepares for the future by studying both the past and present" (The Practical Cutter and Tailor, December 1900, p. 54).

Between them this unmatched pair of volumes - coming from entirely different sources, each with an appealing if enigmatic provenance - offer access to a remarkable, and previously unavailable, record of the development of the scientific system of pattern cutting widely held to have caused a revolution in tailoring in the early years of the nineteenth century. Demographic changes driven by the Industrial Revolution had created a demand for clothes that straddled the market between rough-hewn slop clothing and élite bespoke: "A cutter or master in one of the major London tailoring establishments had little in common with a homeworker supplying jackets to a slop maker, but there was a large embryonic trade growing between the two extremes as the incomes and aspirations of a large sector of the populace grew" (Aldrich, "Tailors' Cutting Manuals and the Growing Provision of Popular Clothing 1770-1870. 'Falling apart like a ready-made'" in Textile History, 31 (2) 2000, p. 167). The direct measure system opened the way for creative pattern cutting and the creation of the modern fashion industry: "It is clear that the production of ready-made and 'mass produced' made-to-measure clothing for men and women owes a debt to the cutting and sizing methods created by the early nineteenth-century tailors, who shared their knowledge in full-scale drafts, pamphlets and books" (p.164). And it is Hearn who is recognised as the first comprehensively to publish his method.

As Aldrich remarks; "Authors often published their work in parts and brought out many new editions as they perfected existing systems or discarded old methods in favour of new ideas. So few of these publications remain that it is impossible to trace accurately the development of a particular tailor's work" ( p.176). Indeed, institutional holdings of these publications are sparse and scattered, and they rarely appear on the market; as practical working manuals they were most likely either worked to pieces, or eventually superseded. However, the first volume offered here contains a complete run of the Hearn's eight advertised parts in six, while the other contributes a further six pieces, comprising variants, with no duplication, together with a copy of Hearn's Table or Tailor's Ready Assistant. This last item, one of the earliest "proportional tables" based on a scientific sampling is similarly key in the development of cutting, providing "the early ready-to-wear tailors with a valuable means of constructing, in a number of sizes, the type of garments offered by tailors for a higher class of trade" (p.181). This grouping far exceeds any other representation, offering many previously unrecorded pieces, and a unique opportunity to examine Hearn's method in its entirety. An annotated list of the publications contained in the volumes is appended.

Few records exist of the early development of patterning, tailoring and dressmaking; in The History of the Art of Cutting in England (1887) Edward Giles remarks notes that "the earliest works were published in the form of pamphlets for circulation in the trade and were not considered important for retention and inclusion in the collections of the British Library" (p.73, quoted in Seligman p.1). There was also resistance to the sharing of trade secrets, "Independent tailors sewed garments from patterns they had bought at high cost, or from patterns developed over a long time of trial and error. Patterns were valuable commodities and there would seem to be little gain from sharing such knowledge with competitors. The costs and time involved in producing pamphlets and books with engraved diagrams would have been considerable and the results could have been received unkindly" (Aldrich pp.165-6). The earliest published guides for offered sample patterns, but no real system; the earliest publications "aimed specifically for the use of professional tailors and dressmakers... present a method of drafting based on proportionate scales and/or tables relating to direct measure", representing the first "departure from the old practice of working from well-tested patterns" (Seligman pp.6-7). These proportional methods, The Old Thirds System, represent a sort of halfway house on the road to true direct measurement, "Systems based solely on the proportion of the breast dominated the publications during the early nineteenth century, but many cutters saw it as illogical to base vertical proportions on those of width" (Aldrich p.179).

It is with Hearn's publications that the formal history of accurate, "scientific" and potentially creative pattern-cutting begins: "Not until 1818 and the publication of Hearn's Rudiments of Cutting do we find, according to Giles and attributed by him to Minister System of the Art of Cutting, 1820), the first "real" system of cutting: a direct measure system to ascertain certain dimensions of parts of the body directly utilising the inch tape measure, invented along with the square in 1799, by Mr. Atkinson" (ibid. p.7). Atkinson advertised his system in a circular noted by Giles, but never published. As Aldrich argues, "it is obvious that other tailors during that period were experimenting with drafting immediately on to cloth using direct body measurements", and in The Tailor and Cutter's review of Giles's book there is the suggestion "that a Welsh tailor, D. Williams, preceded Hearn". However, there seems to be no serious contention that Hearn's system was not the first such method to be fully published, allowing Giles his assertion that Hearn can "justly claim to be the pioneer of direct measurement systems in this country" (Aldrich p.181).

If he had not published, Hearn himself would be as much an enigma as Mr. Atkinson and D. Williams. No source provides his given name, no biographical details have emerged apart from a suggestive scatter found among the polemics against his rivals with which Hearn framed his various editions. As a nine-page appendix to his Art of Cutting Breeches Hearn puts forward a coruscating criticism of Mr. Deitrechsan - Frederick Dietrichsen, a stay-maker of Rathbone Place - who was pirating many of these manuals, liberally salted with libellous comments on his rivals. Among these, reprinted from the introduction of Gaffney's Tailor's Irish Instructor is the contention that "Heron or Herne, it appears, was had down to a master tailor at Chelmsford, in Essex, to act as his foreman, but was soon dismissed for want of ability to fulfil his engagement" (p.31). Subsequently we are told that he set up his own business, "but being as incompetent to conduct a trade for himself, as for his late master, he got deeply into the pocket ledgers of the different manufacturers' riders, as well as into the counting-house ledgers of the clothiers and others", ending in Chelmsford Gaol, but extricated himself through the Insolvent Debtors Act, "that dreadful scourge of tradesmen". Which accusations Hearn dismisses, "In 1805 I went to Chelmsford to carry on a business for a Mr. Thomas Stebbing, deceased, I was with him eighteen months, in which time I got married, and being in possession of some property, I was determined to go into business for myself, I accordingly told Mr.S to suit himself but I wold continue with him until he did so, which was agreed upon mutually" (p.32). Beyond which, nothing.

But what does emerge from these volumes, with considerable clarity, is a sense of the type of man that Hearn was, and of the world he worked in. The variant versions show constant obsessive reworkings, of intense concentration on the detail of a system in the cause of continual improvement; and this accompanied by an intense rivalry with the other practitioners of this evolving craft. The motor driving this is barely stated, but was clearly the rapid development of a potentially highly lucrative market for fashionable clothes, sensitive to the demands of style, and which fitted: "No other system... will enable the cutter to vary with all the fluctuations of fashion and make, and yet the fit certain, and in every case the same. No: this is a desideratum in the science; and no better proof can be given of the fact, that innumerable wretched fits that were to be seen in the streets of London, when fashion last changed from narrow to wide backs. What was the cause of this? I answer, the want of principles, applicable alike to every possible variation, whether fashion or make" (Rudiments of Cutting Coats &c., 1819, p.xii).

Genuinely rare, the serendipitous discovery of these two volumes makes possible for the first time a consistent study of the earliest development of the methods that stand behind the fashion industry of today.

Contents first vol.

1/ Hearn's Rudiments of Cutting Coats, of all Sizes, to fit the Human Form. Part the First and Second. Fifth Edition, with Additions and many Valuable Improvements. London: Printed for and sold by the Author, At the Metropolitan Repository of fashions, No. 24, Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, J. Davy, Queen Street, Seven Dials, 1823. xvi, 17-80pp. 3 engraved plates, as called for.

"Since the last Edition of this Part, I have discovered several new dimensions, which like most of my measures, peculiar to myself..." (p.iv). Technically the text seems largely the same as the third edition of the first part in the other volume.

No copy traced, TCD have second edition of first part, 1819, V & A have an 1822 edition of the same. No second part traced.

2/ Hearn's Systematical Method of Cutting Coats, &c. of all Sizes, for such as may be termed Very Upright; Very Stooping; Big Bellied; Round Shouldered; Hump-backed, &c. &c. Third Edition of Part the Third. London: Printed and sold by the author (T. Davis, 102 Minories, At the..., 1822. 39pp. 2 plates, one unnumbered but identified as 6 in the accompanying text and 7.

V & A have the same, TCD have a first of 1819.

3/ Hearn's Art of Cutting Breeches, Pantaloons, Trowsers, &c. of all sizes to fit the Human Form, by Anatomical Proportions, in Conjunction with Geometrical Principles. Second edition of Part the Fourth. London: printed and sold by the Author, No. 13 Crown Court, Little Russell Street, Covent Garden, 1819 J. Davy. iv, 43pp. 1 plate, the 8th.

No copy traced, Western Reserve have a third edition, "35pp., diagram", as in the first volume here.

4/ Hearn's Rudiments of Cutting Ladies' Habits, Pelisses, &c. of all Sizes, by Anatomical Proportions in conjunction with Geometrical Principles. Second Edition of Part the Fifth. London: printed and sold by the Author, No. 13 Crown Court, Little Russell Street, Covent Garden J. Davy, 1819. xii, 13-54pp. 2 plates, 9 and 10, as called for. No plate 11.

No copy traced.

5/ Hearn's Art of Cutting Box, Surtout, and Horseman's Great Coats, likewise Frocks, Waistcoats, Gaiters, and Children's Loose Great Coats. Second Edition of Parts VI and VII. London: Printed by T. Richardson, 99 High Holborn, and sold by the Author at the Metropolitan Repository of Fashions, 20 Southampton Street, Holborn, c.1820. 56pp. 4 engraved plates 12-15, as called for.

No copy traced.

6/ Hearn's Systematical Method of Cutting Skeleton Dresses, Hussar and other Jackets, &c. &c. founded upon Anatomical Proportions, in Conjunction with Geometrical Principles. Part the Eighth. London: Printed and sold by the Author, No. 13 Crown Court... T. Davis, 1820. 24pp. 3 engraved plates 16-18, as called for.

No copy traced.

Second volume:

1. Hearn's Rudiments of Cutting Coats, &c. of all Sizes to fit the Human Form, by upon Scientific Principles, or Geometrical Proportions. Part the First. Second edition, with Additions. London: Printed for, and sold by the Author printed by Smith & Davy, Queen Street, Seven Dials, ?1818. 49pp. with 2 engraved plates with 4 "figures", facing blanks with sharp off-set image. "I expect you to be be provided with a tape inch measure, likewise a memorandum book with asses skin leaves, and a pencil, to insert orders in when taken from home" (p.24).

Opens with a very detailed polemic against of existing systems, focussing particularly on Benjamin Read's The Proportionate and Universal Table (1815) and Cook's "Principles of Cutting Coats" and "Unerring Instructor", not traced, but perhaps part of Cook and Golding's Taylor's Assistant.

Notes that this is not the first edition which "was expensive, on account of the Model being drawn in full magnitude; but to give every one an opportunity of purchasing the second edition, the Author has drawn the model upon the eighth-of-an-inch scale which has enabled him to reduce the price from 1 down to 3s" (p.46)

Ads for other publications including The Master Taylor's Ready Assistant, not traced, price 5s inked in. Lists the parts to follow the present.

No copy traced. V & A have the ?fourth edition of 1819, as also TCD, who have a second edition of the second part (1819) as well. V & A have a bound volume dated 1822 containing W. Hearn's systematical method of cutting coats, of all sizes, for such as may be termed very upright, very stooping, big bellied, round shouldered, hump-backed, and W. Hearn's rudiments of cutting coats, &c. of all sizes, to fit the human form, by anatomical proportions, in conjunction with geometrical principles, both 1822.

2. Hearn's Rudiments of Cutting Coats, &c. of all sizes, to fit the Human Form, by Anatomical Proportions, in Conjunction with Geometrical Principles. Part the First. Third edition with Additions, and Many Valuable Improvements. London: Printed for, and sold by the Author printed by J. Davy, Queen Street, Seven Dials, 1819. xvi, 72pp with 3 engraved plates.

"No system that will enable the cutter to vary with all the fluctuations of fashion and make, and yet the fit certain, and in every case the same. No: this is a desideratum in the science; and no better proof can be given of the fact, than the innumerable wretched fits that were seen in the streets on London when the fashion last changed from narrow to wide backs" (pp.xi-xii)

Refining the title better to explain the contents.

Ads include a second edition of the Taylor's Ready Assistant, and notes of the preparation of the following item, and second editions of the second, third and fourth parts.

No copy traced.

3. Hearn's Systematical Method of Cutting Box & Surtout Coats, likewise Ladies' Chaise, and Children's Loose Great Coats, &c. &c. founded upon Anatomical Proportions in Conjunction with Geometrical Principles. Part the Seventh. London: Printed for and Sold by the Author printed by T. Davies, 102 Minories, 1819. 36pp. with 3 engraved plates numbered 13, 14, 15, as called for in the text.

"The First, Second, and Third Parts of this work are confined to coats, such as may be termed close, or dress coats. We come now in regular course to surtout, or what is commonly called great coats, also box, chaise, or wrapping coats of all kinds... " (p.3). "Ad." on the last page advises that "the last part of this Work (Part the Eighth)" is "preparing for the Press", the content matching that of the example in Volume II below.

4. Hearn's Art of Cutting Waistcoats and Gaiters, of all Sizes; including the Variations of Shape and Make, by Anatomical Proportions, in conjunction with Geometrical Principles. Part the Sixth. London: Printed for an sold by the Author printed by J. Davy..., 1818. 28pp. with 2 unnumbered engraved plates, as called for.

Explicit instructions for measurements; "place the end of the tape inch measure to the socket of the neck behind... then take the size round the belly, by placing the measure into the hollowest part behind..." (pp.7-8).

No copy traced.

5. Hearn's Art of Cutting Breeches, Pantaloons, Trowsers, &c. of all Sizes to fit the Human Form, by Anatomical Proportions, in Conjunction with Geometrical Principles. Part the Fourth. London: printed for and sold by the Author by Smith and Davy..., N.d. 35pp. with 1 unnumbered plate.

No copy traced, TCD have a second edition, pagination differs, paper watermarked 1818; BL third edition, but same pagination as present version, dated "?1833". Did George Walker take over "the late Mr. Hearn's" business c.1835, see St Andrews' cataloguing for The Tailor's Masterpiece

6. Hearn's Table of Quantities & Positions for Dress Coats, &c. or, the Tailor's Ready Assistant. Second Edition. London: printed for and sold by the Author by J. Davy..., 1819. 8pp., and 7 double-page tables paginated 9-22, 6 wood-engraved plates.

"It does not seem necessary to say much on the utility of the following Table, as that must be evident to any one who has examined its principles. It is intended to inform those who are learning, or may not have sufficient experience, as to what quantity of cloth, of a given width, is necessary to make a coat, as well as to shew them the best method of cutting each part of the garment from the quantity proposed" (p.3).

Single copy at the Western Reserve Historical Society; BL has third edition "revised and improved by G. Walker", dated tentatively to 1830.

Confused? Read our glossary


2 volumes, octavo. The first: (200 x 130 mm). Contemporary half russia, spine skilfully restored, brown marbled boards, label reconstructed to style, lettered in gilt "Hearns Art of Cutting". Ownership inscription of "Wm. Hayward, Salisbury" inked to the first blank, above further pencilled inscription of "William Hayward at Metrapalotan [sic] Repository of Fashons, 20 Southampton Street, Bloomsbury Square, London". The Repository was later owned by George Walker, apparent successor to Hearn's publications and publisher of The Tailor's Masterpiece. A few marginal comments, faint chalk marks to a plate. (1818-23)

The second: (207 x 127 mm). Contemporary diced russia, rebacked with most of the original spine laid down, recornered in sheep, dark green morocco label to flat spine, gilt lozenges to the compartments, single fine floral gilt rolled panel to the boards, edges stained yellow, marbled endpapers. Named "F. Minton ?th. Lancers" at the tail of the spine. Calligraphic ownership inscription of Sarah Jane Huggett dated 28th November 1839 to the first blank, and that of "J. Minton, 17th Lancers, London" to that of the title page of the last piece. (1818-9). Both housed together in a custom brown cloth slipcase.


In all 25 plates, and 6 full-page woodcuts, numerous tables. Plates 4, 5 and 11 appear to be missing from the sequence, but not from the relevant texts as offered here. Perhaps they were lost in the contractions of the first and second, and sixth and sev


The first: boards slightly rubbed, attractively furbished, both joints subtly reinforced, original front free with ownership inscription pasted down, small piece cut from the first blank at beginning of signature, light browning and some sporadic spotting to the text-block, paper somewhat softened, overall very good.

The second: sides and old repairs lightly scuffed, front board neatly reattached, light browning throughout, small piece torn from the top inner quadrant of the title page of the first item, occasional faint soiling and mild damping, but the contents largely clean and sound, overall very good.


Seligman 1819.1 for the second named item.


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