The British Architect; or, the Builder's Treasury of Staircases

Author: Written and designed by Abraham Swan (British, active 1745–68)

Etcher: John Norman (American, born England ca. 1748–1817 Boston)

Publisher: Robert Bell (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Date: 1775

Medium: Book with etched Illustrations

Dimensions: 16 3/4 x 10 1/16 in. (42.5 x 25.5 cm)
page: 16 1/8 x 9 1/4 in. (41 x 23.5 cm)

Classifications: Books, Ornament & Architecture

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1943

Accession Number: 43.26.1


On December 5, 1774, John Norman, an engraver recently arrived in Philadelphia from London, advertised Proposals for Printing by Subscription, the American edition of Swan's British Architect. Published by Robert Bell, the city's leading printer and bookseller. The volume was available the following June and was the first architectural book printed in America. It faithfully copied Abraham Swan's British Architect, first published in London in 1745, and contains a title page, list of subscribers, twenty pages of text, and sixty folio plates whose images reverse those of the English edition, all but one etched by Norman.