Daniell, William; Ayton, Richard.
A Voyage Round Great Britain, Undertaken in the Summer of the Year 1813, and Commencing from the Land's-End, Cornwall.
London: T. Davison for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown and William Daniell, 1814[-1825]. First Edition. Hardcover. First edition of arguably "the most important colour plate book on British topography". [Tooley] "A celebration of the rural coastline of Britain, this eight volume collection of 308 aquatint engravings with accompanying commentary details the sublime and picturesque coastline in the final decades preceding the age of photography. Daniell's aquatint engravings, particularly those of the Scottish Highlands, are widely acknowledged as some of the finest ever produced." "The tour took place in stages over twelve years, travelling only in the more clement summer months before returning to the city. During each tour Daniell would take only pencil, paper and small camera obscura: a mirrored, cloth-shielded box allowing him to trace the outline of a scene and proportion it correctly. During the winter months he would produce aquatints from these sketches. The engraving of aquatint plates was a complicated process, but one at which Daniell was said to have become so skilled he was capable of producing a plate in a single day. First a copper plate would have to be evenly coated in wax and onto the surface a reduced and reversed outline of the sketch drawn. Areas to remain blank were then "stopped out" with an acid resistant mix and the remainder of the plate covered with particles of powdered resin which would settle into the wax. The plate would subsequently be immersed in acid which would "bite into" or "etch out" certain areas where the acid reacted with the metal. The process would be repeated many times to create a copper plate with multitude minute holes to which different paint washes could then be applied in preparation for the print run. The prints would have been produced in just one or two colours with all further detail and colouring added by hand thereafter. The process of aquatinting was not only laborious but also very expensive; hence the completed work was affordable only by the wealthy. The eight volume set retailed at £60 when completed in 1825, but was also sold by volume at £7 12s 6d each. Each volume comprised many "parts" detailing different sections of the coast. The prohibitive price, and consequently exclusive target audience, soon led to complications in the production of the work. The resulting disagreements between the contributors precipitated Ayton's departure, leaving Daniell to complete the tour on his own. A close up detail from the plate depicting the Clyde Estuary at Dumbarton illustrates the minute dots which comprise an aquatint image. The quarrel between the two contributors stemmed from a contrasting outlook on the direction of the work. Daniell, ever the businessman and pragmatist, realised that poor sales figures for the first two volumes of the work, covering Cornwall, Wales and the West coast of England could be attributed to two factors. Firstly, a surfeit of text with under-representation of engravings and secondly, the rather political nature of Ayton's text." The work was originally issued in parts costing 10s.6d. each, and an index chart was also published at 6s., but "is not usually included, the work being complete without it" (Tooley). Abbey Scenery 16; Tooley 177. Good+ to Very Good+. Item #9212 Some shelf/edge wear evident, focused at head/tail and tips, tips bumped, very minor/light tonight to leaves, hint of sporadic foxing, rear board of Vol V-VI shows damage to leather with several spots of loss (repairable), else tight, bright, and unmarred. Full brown leather bindings, five raised bands, black and red leather spine labels, gilt lettering and decorative elements, marbled endpages, speckled textblock edges, frontispieces, aquatint dedication leaf. fo. 215pp; 223pp; 80pp; 96pp; 36pp; 94pp; 90pp; 65pp. Illus. (hand-coloured aquatint plates, pale grey wash borders).