The Art Exemplar was a kind of encyclopedia of all the processes that the London printer William Stannard had ever come across during his career. Indeed, the the first half of the 19th century saw many individuals experimenting with new graphic and imaging methods. The book was illustrated so far as possible with original examples of the processes taken from Stannard’s collection of prints, and therefore it had to be limited to a very small edition. The result is a very remarkable and interesting collection of oriignal prints accompanied by invaluable, detailed descriptions of the processes used to make them.
Stannard included the worthless processes along with the worthy one. Everything, in fact, which had been given a name and so had played its part in the confusion of the graphic terminology of the time was to be explained as well as it could be. The copy here is opened to the page describing photography, a process whose worth was already well established as a way of making individual prints, but whose importance to graphic reproduction was only just being explored.
Stannard produced only ten copies of his book, making it extraordinarily rare. The Cary copy came from the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.
Text adapted from “Experimental Graphic Processes in England 1800–1859,” by Elizabeth Harris