Wilfrid M. de Freitas - Bookseller

Home | Conditions of sale, and orders

Buck's Antiquities

SquarePrints from Buck's Antiquities Square

Main Buck's Antiquities page

The Buck brothers

Who were Samuel and Nathaniel Buck?

The Buck brothers, Samuel (1696-1779) and Nathaniel (1700?-1759?), were eighteenth century engravers and print publishers, best remembered for their Views of the Ruins of ye most noted Abbeys & Castles ..., otherwise known as Buck's Antiquities, and the ... Perspective Views of Cities and Chief Towns in England and Wales ... . These collections of over four hundred prints covering the ancient buildings and ruins of England and Wales, and eighty-one views of their principal towns, were based on sketches and detailed drawings made by the brothers during summer travels in the 1720s through the early 1740s.

Although now sometimes described as 'stark' or 'stiff', especially in the earlier sets, their images are invaluable to historians and architectural researchers. Many of the ruins depicted fell further into decay and barely survive today, others were poorly restored or intentionally destroyed. In many cases, these prints represent a transitional view between the original, intact building and their present state, providing valuable clues to the former when no earlier image exists.

Little is known of the brothers' early lives, though it is generally accepted that they were originally from Yorkshire. By 1720 they were living and working in London. There, Samuel became associated with the fellows of the Society of Antiquaries, who became firm supporters of their work, and subscribers to his first series of town views.

While accompanying the Society's secretary, William Stukeley, as he explored England's landscape and architectural remains, Samuel began sketching, and formulating his plan for the first series of views: twenty-four plates of the great ruins of Yorkshire. The drawings, executed in 1724 and 1725, were published in 1726, and were followed the next year by a second set covering Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.

Up to this point, Nathaniel had been acting behind the scenes, seeing to the subscriptions and the printing. By the third series (Lancashire, Cheshire and Derbyshire published in 1728) he was also active as an artist, both in the field preparing the sketches and as engraver, as attested by the addition of his name to the imprints. By the time the project was completed in 1742, the brothers had covered all the counties of England and Wales, recording the major ruins as they then appeared.

Nathaniel's death sometime after 1759, left all the plates in Samuel's hands. Over the next twenty years he continued to sell their views, and worked as an art teacher and painting restorer. His last years were ones of penury, relieved at the end by financial support from members of the Society of Antiquaries.

Main Buck's Antiquities page

Home | Conditions of sale, and orders

Wilfrid M. de Freitas
P.O. Box 232, Westmount Station
Westmount, Quebec, Canada H3Z 2T2
Tel: (514) 935-9581
E-mail: wilfrid@defreitasbooks.com

Last updated: 4/15/19
Site maintained by Susan Ravdin