Linnell, manuscript draft of an advertisement for Blake’s Job engravings

6. John Linnell. Manuscript draft of an advertisement for Blake’s Job engravings, datable to 1825-26. Pen and ink on wove paper, 22.7 x 18.4 cm. with a John Hall watermark just within the left edge. Acquired Sept. by Essick from John Windle. Transcription: “Blake’s Illustrations / of the / Book of Job . / Consisting of 22 Plates engraved by himself upon / Copper from his own Designs / Price to subscribers - - - 3 . 3 - / Proofs on India paper  5 - 5 - / Subscriptions—  1 . - / received by the Author Wm Blake .3 Fountain Court / Strand / or M.r J. Linnell 6. Cirencester Place Fitzroy sq[uare]- / These Plates are engraved entirely by Mr Blake with the / graver only (that is without the aid of Aqua fortis).” These prices accord with most of those listed in Linnell’s Job accounts; see BR(2) 799-807. The concluding statement is very similar to a note by Linnell among the Ivimy manuscripts, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, that the Job pls. were “cut with the graver entirely on copper without the aid of Aqua fortis” (BR[2] 318fn). I am confident that Linnell, a skilled printmaker who commissioned the Job engravings and was intimately involved in their production and distribution, is correct on this matter except for preliminary drypoint sketching of the border designs and inscriptions. For a contrary opinion, see Mei-Ying Sung, William Blake and the Art of Engraving (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2009) 112.

The draft advertisement is pasted to a backing leaf of wove paper, 38.4 x 26.4 cm., formerly bound into a complete copy of the Job engravings. A copy of the printed Job label is pasted to the same leaf above Linnell’s manuscript. The pencil inscription just above the lower edge of the latter, “preserve this,” also appears on the label. Neither was written by Linnell. Also previously bound into the same copy of Blake’s engravings was a dark-brown wove paper wrapper, 38.0 x 24.5 cm., cut into 3 pieces—front cover, back cover, spine—now also in Essick’s collection. The front cover is inscribed in ink, “BLAKE’S / ILLUSTRATIONS of the / Book of Job / [rule] / unfinished Proofs.” The final line is in Linnell’s hand; he probably also wrote the block letters of the first 3 lines. Since the Job pls. with which these materials were bound are published “Proof” impressions, not “unfinished” proofs, the wrapper was apparently designed for, and possibly once bound with, a different copy.

The “John Hall” watermark is identical to the 1st line of a mark appearing in Jane Austen’s letter of 2 Dec. 1815 to her sister Cassandra (Morgan Library and Museum, New York, accession no. 977.40). A 2nd line of the letter’s watermark is “1814”; any such second line would have been trimmed off the leaf bearing Linnell’s manuscript. Hall produced paper at Cotton Mill, Ringstead, Northamptonshire; see <>, accessed 3 Sept. 2011.