OIKIDIA, by PEACOCK, James (1738-1814).

PEACOCK, James (1738-1814).

OIKIDIA, or, Nutshells: being Ichnographic Distributions for Small Villas; chiefly upon oeconomical principles. In seven classes. With occasional remarks. By Jose Mac Packe, a Bricklayer’s Labourer. Part the first, containing Twelve Designs. London, for the Author, 1785.

First Edition. 8vo, (212 x 121mm), two engraved frontispieces and pp. [iv], 89, with numerous tables in the text and twenty-five engraved plates, each facing its description, the text proper being in the appendix, beginning at p. 51, plate xviii misnumbered xvii, in contemporary calf, red morocco label on spine lettered in gilt, spine ruled in gilt, foot of spine chipped, joints cracking and in need of some attention, but generally an attractive copy, with the early ownership inscription of James McDouall of Lagan.

A charming book written as a guide to the ordinary person wishing to build a house in the country. Peacock had worked as principal assistant to the architect George Dance and as Clerk of Works to the City of London Corporation and therefore had considerable experience, belying the anagrammatic pseudonym ‘Jose Mac Packe’, a ‘bricklayer’s assistant’, as given on the title page. He fears that some might suspect this and reassures them as to his station in life, expressing the hope that ‘the sourest critic will upon the whole allow, that he has acquitted himself as well as might be expected for a Bricklayer’s Labourer’ (Preface). The twenty-five plates give plans of examples with comments and detailed measurements, showing Peacock’s skill with relatively small sites. The appendix (which, written under the guise of bricklayer, includes some advice on how to deal with your architect) is a humorous guide for the layman on how to build his own house: ‘let him procure a design upon paper, of a new House... whether it be from some Fan-painter, Toy-man, Lace-man, Paper-hanger, or Undertaker... if it happens to be the production of a wonderful genius, not of the profession, it will not be unwise in him to consult some clumsy mechanic, or other, who can readily distinguish a brick from a pantile’ (pp. 53-54).

Eileen Harris, British Architectural Books and Writers 1556–1785, 694; Berlin Katalog 2295.

ESTC t42147.

Keywords: The Arts
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