A PROOF ENGRAVING OF SAMUEL BUCK’S SEPARATELY ISSUED VIEW OF WAKEFIELD. In 1719 mapmaker John Warburton (c.1682-1759) employed twenty three year old artist Samuel Buck to make the illustrations for his intended history of the county of Yorkshire. Ralph Thoresby from Leeds was a wealthy man who supported the project. There survives in the British Library a volume of pen and ink sketches by Buck dated between 1719 and 1720. The intended book was never published but two views of Leeds, one of York and Wakefield were. That of Wakefield is offered here. Proposals for the publication were issued as a handbill of which an example survives with the drawings in the British Library (Lansdowne MS.914). A subscriber would pay a deposit which went towards the cost of the engraving. No more than that subscribed to would be printed. On the 2 May 1721 the ‘Daily Courant’ advertised the engravings would be available shortly. Subscriptions were being accepted at the Ship in St. Paul’s Churchyard, by Joseph Smith in the Exeter ‘Change and by Mr. Hulton of Pall Mall.
The view features Samuel Buck in the foreground showing his drawing with Ralph Thoresby, possibly Warburton and another companion. Two further figures attend their horses. An example of the finished engraving resides at the Society of Antiquaries, London and another believed to be in the British Library. The example offered here is a previously UNRECORDED PROOF STATE. For this a dedication to Lord Carmarthen fills the blank space lower centre. A semi circle is removed from the image immediately above to help accommodate the Lord’s Arms. A total of ten different views were produced from this ‘first’ series. Hyde states “the mortality rate for each of the early two-sheet engravings has been extraordinarily high. I have seen no more than two copies of any one. This may have been because of their large dimensions. The temptation would have been to use them as wall decoration (hung unframed as was the fashion) rather than mount them in blank guard books where they would have been protected.” Provenance: private English collection. Hyde (1985) p. 103; Hyde (1994) p. 12.