Dodgy Dodsley

Posted on 18th June 2021 by simonbeattie

This is a copy of the first edition in German of William Gilpin’s famous Essay on Prints, ‘published anonymously in 1768, which had influence on the Continent, [and] contained his earliest definition of the Picturesque’ (Grove Art).  The translation is by Johann Jakob Volckmann (1732–1803).  A former owner here has created an index of the various engravers discussed, covering the front endpapers in a neat hand.

It was the imprint which drew my eye. Between 1762 and about 1770, the young Engelhard Benjamin Schwickert (1741–1825) worked for the famous Leipzig booksellers, Dyck.  From 1766, he began to pose as the representative of the fictitious firm of J. Dodsley und Compagnie (copying the name of real London bookseller, James Dodsley), under which name he brought out various pirated editions.  His edition of the Hamburgischer Dramaturgie provoked a satirical reply from Lessing.  Schwickert finally began publishing under his own name in 1772, and became an important printer, notably of music.

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