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WILSON, Maria.

The Workwoman's Guide,

containing Instructions to the Inexperienced in Cutting out and Completing those Articles of Wearing apparel, &c., which are usually made at Home; also Explanation on Upholstery, Straw-platting, Bonnet-making, Knitting, &c. By a Lady.

London & Birmingham: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.; Thomas Evans, 1838 Stock Code: 108261
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First edition of one of the most important needlework manuals of the nineteenth century. Early editions are uncommon, with just four copies of the first on Library Hub, together with four of the second edition of 1840; only two copies traced at auction. An excellent copy of this elusive and highly desirable guidebook, offered here in publisher's attractive binding, extremely well-preserved.

The value of The Workwoman's Guide "is that it provides in its text and illustrations the original nineteenth-century instructions for making and cleaning clothing and accessories" (Caroline Sloat, American Antiquarian Society). The work describes hundreds of objects that were stitched from cloth, knitted from yarn, braided, dyed or otherwise converted into utilitarian and ornamental objects of clothing and household furnishing. Seligman notes that it also "includes instructions for drafting".

The present work is set apart by the remarkable breadth of projects that are laid out in painstaking detail, with chapters on upholstery, household receipts, and straw-work. Intended as a practical guide for its contemporary readers, the book offers valuable insights to modern researchers, the section on upholstery, for example, is cited extensively in Edward P. Cooke's important survey Upholstery in America & Europe from the Seventeenth Century to World War I (1987).

The preface provides a clear account of the work's intentions: "the Author of the following pages has been encouraged to hope, that, in placing them, after much deliberation, in the hands of a printer, she is tendering an important and acceptable, however humble, service to her own sex, who, in any condition of life, are engaged, by duty, or inclination, in cutting out wearing apparel in a family, or for their poorer neighbours. She trusts, in particular, that Clergymen's Wives, Young Married Women, School-mistresses, and Ladies' Maids may find, in the "Workwoman's Guide", a fast and serviceable friend" (Preface).

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Quarto. Original green leaf-sprigged cloth, black leather label to the spine.


Engraved frontispiece and 24 other similar plates.


A little rubbed, corners through, split to the cloth on the rear joint, spine sunned, neat repairs head and tail of the spine, light browning throughout, some foxing front and back, overall a very good copy.


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