RAWLINSON, R. Designs for Factory Furnace and Other Tall Chimney Shafts. London, [Weale 1858]. large folio later half morocco (nothing flash but a decent servicable binding); 8,[1]pp and 25 plates including the illustrated title, all but three tinted lithographs, a half page tinted litho in the text. A library label inside the front cover and some very inoffensive blind stamps in the corners; some spotting, a very decent copy. $Au6,500

One of the most captivating of 19th century architectural books and just about the only great book on this particular aspect of modern industrial building. Rawlinson is out to introduce aesthetics into what had been so utilitarian and graceless. He uses as models the towers of the east, medieval and renaissance Italy, even the castellated battlement. He insists on the beauty of the vertical line and the use of colour - with polychromatic brickwork, terra-cotta cornices and cast-iron roofs. These enormous industrial constructions fit, however, without the slightest trauma into the bucolic peace of the English countryside. They become, in his views, picturesque monuments, a meeting place for Trollopian neighbours out for a stroll. They emit no smoke and no sound, clearly do not disturb the local game sought by a hunter and his hound striding by and leave lounging peasantry unruffled. I suspect Rawlinson of being very clever about this. He is trying to attract the attention of and persuade a gentlemanly class to take seriously buildings which until then had been left to black-thumbed engineers working in never seen industrial slums.
Rawlinson was an engineer of course, though hardly black-thumbed by 1858. He had, and would continue to devote much of his career to sanitary reform in just such places as industrial slums. It is curious to find a reformist engineer so bent on aesthetics, even antagonistic to what we might expect to be favoured materials (
"Cement - terrible cement - has been a great drawback to modern architecture.") and it is not until almost the end of his life that we see another outbreak of artistic sentiment: a slender book of verse published in 1893. He does get practical though, telling us that modern industrial towers were not only ugly but unsafe, and advocates the newest technology for proper foundations and construction.