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Printing Technology and the Role of Illustration

America's Introduction to Aesthetics


Architectural Pattern Books

Architectural Advice Books: The A.J.s

Architectural Advice Books: Other Writers

Art Instruction and Leisure Pursuit Manuals

Exposition Catalogs


Further Information

Ionic Order, copperplate engraving, Asher Benjamin, The American Builder’s Companion, fifth edition, 1826.
Architectural Pattern Books

Based largely on architectural theory developed more than 1,000 years prior, the pattern book codified and scaled ornament and outlined the principles and mathematical formulas on which Classical architecture is based. Usually illustrated by engravings, this type of technical treatise was intended for builders and other serious students of architecture.

The architectural pattern book specifically aimed at an American readership developed at the turn of the 19th century, an era when Classical architectural styles were warmly embraced in this country. Pattern books produced in the United States were more widely available than those printed in Europe. Citizens of the new republic drew on the books authored by Asher Benjamin, Minard Lafever, and others when designing and constructing Classical–style churches, houses, and government buildings.

The Use of the Pattern Book, Then and Now