Jim â€” My congratulations to you and your associates on a most worthwhile project with promising results so far. I have a number of fairly obvious ideas and comments, which I expect you have already considered:-[list=1]
- Barbe's designs may well not have been very original. The few I have seen to date always look to me as though they were based on contemporary published illustrations.
I have in mind the Walter Crane illustrations which J.G. Sowerby copied in 1877 for his press-moulded novelty vases. I have seen Sowerby's use of Crane's illustrations described as "plagiarism", however it seems much more likely that Crane was fully aware of Sowerby's use of his illustrations, and may well have been both flattered by it and encouraged it as additional publicity for his books. John Sowerby later collaborated with Crane's brother, Thomas, and his cousin, Ellen Houghton, on a successful series of children's books. I hardly think it likely that this relationship would have taken place had there been any acrimony over John Sowerby's use of the Crane illustrations.
On the practical side, Barbe would have needed at least four copies of the original work (his office, Webb's office, London showrooms, USA showrooms), together with additional prints of the plates as working copies for his staff. All of which indicates to me an expensively illustrated source publication that was in print in 1886. Have any of your London members checked this, not at the British Library, but at the RHS Lindley Library
The use of a suitably annotated book in this way may be the explanation for the missing design illustrations â€” they may never have existed as Barbe coloured drawings! One additional benefit of of using the annotated book is that, for a suitable premium, a client, retail or wholesale, could have chosen his own exclusive design from the other illustrations in the book.
Always remember that, once a book is published, the publisher is only interested in one thing â€” sales. Any rational publisher presented with a project like this could only have celebrated his good fortune.
- I have found one image you may not have yet seen. Newby, Martine S., From Palace to Parlour, The Glass Circle, 2003, item 211. If suitable for your purposes, The Glass Circle may be willing to help you obtain an image of this nightlight.
- Have you tried the auction houses like Sotheby's for photographs?
- Have you tried Broadfield House and the V&A for photographs?[/list:o]I like your well-designed web page which elegantly adjusts itself to your viewer's window size. Also my compliments on your excellent image optimisation.
I hope there is something here that might be useful. I couldn't think of anything else.
Bernard C. 8)