Charles Wood Offers Books <br>On Conserving Works of Art
By Michael Stillman
The latest catalogue from Charles Wood is an absolute must for anyone who collects 18th and 19th century works pertaining to the field of art. It is a well-described collection of 386 books, and they cover just about everything imaginable in the preparation, preservation, and restoration of art. The official title is “Conservation & Restoration of Works of Art” and it is Wood’s 119th catalogue.
Among the subjects covered by the volumes in this catalogue are painting with oil (or “oyl” in the really old volumes), watercolors, color shades and charts, preservation, painting on glass, metal, and ceramics, sketching, cleaning works of art, many titles on dyeing, varnish, weaving, engravings, concrete, coppersmithing, even paperhanging. The list goes on. We can only mention a few volumes, and these may not completely reflect the works in this catalogue as we have selected some of the more unusual titles, rather than those which are most obviously related to art.
Here’s one that covers art and more: Johann Beckmann’s A History of Inventions and Discoveries. This is an 1814 second English edition of a book originally published in German in 1777, but it includes an additional fourth volume. It offers sections on dyeing, weaving, papermaking, sugar refining, shoemaking, watchmaking, glass cutting and more. All of 1777’s latest technology. Item 24. Priced at $550.
Then there are those dealing with some borderline forms of art. Item 277 is Alexander Paul’s The Practical Ostrich Feather Dyer. Dyed ostrich feathers don’t have a lot of practical use today (unless you are an unattractive ostrich), but once upon a time they were desired for ladies’ hats. And, if you can prove that these recipes don’t work, the author will pay you $1,000, enough to both cover the cost of the book and yield a tidy profit. Of course, it may not be easy to track down the author as this revised edition was printed in 1888. $550.
Item 3 is J. W. Alston’s 1820 Hints to Young Practitioners in the Study of Landscape Painting, Illustrated by Five Engravings Intended to Show the Different Stages of Neutral Tint, to which are added Instructions on the Art of Painting on Velvet. Painting on velvet? Does this mean that before there were velvet Elvises, there were velvet Beethovens? $300.
Item 62 will intrigue collectors of both the visual arts and contemporary music. It is Louis Castel’s L’Optique des Couleurs… from 1740. This includes a description of a musical instrument which would combine the projection of colors with the playing of individual keys. It was a forerunner of the early electronic color organs of the 1890s. Move ahead another century and it leads to the psychedelic light shows of modern musical concerts. $1,000.