Monday, 3 November 2014

Shaw's Tourist's Picturesque Guide to the Isle of Wight

A pleasant set of images from Shaw's Tourist's Picturesque Guide to the Isle of Wight (pub. London, The Graphotyping Company, Limited, 7, Garrick Street, W.C. Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., Stationers' Hall Court, 1873).

The images, although at first glance slightly strange in their limited colour range, rather grew on me as rather atmospheric. Some, particularly the Blackgang Chine scene, have an almost Samuel Palmer flavour to them. Their nature - essentially line drawings with tint - arises from the nature of the patented Graphotype process, in which the prototype for the printing block was made by drawing in glutinous ink on a porous chalk block. When the ink was dry, the substrate was rubbed away, leaving the lines in relief. The whole thing was then hardened, and reproduced by stereotype or electrotype process to make the actual printing block.

The company produced a large stable of guides in the same format - all costing a shilling, with 12 colour plates - for various parts of Britain, as well as as Shaw's Guide to Great Britain and Ireland ("Specially prepared for the use of American Tourists") at 10s. 6d., with 96 plates.

In the following pages an attempt is made to provide the visitor to the "Garden Isle" with a handy book of reference to its most salient features. The descriptions are necessarily brief: the places to be visited and the objects of interest are so numerous that a more lengthy notice of them would swell the volume to proportions altogether out of keeping with its character. It has, therefore, been the object of the compiler rather to glance at than to describe in detail the various scenes of which he treats, so as to provide a useful vade mecum to the Tourist. In his efforts to do this he has consulted every authority to which he has access, and has made use of a store of matériel accumulated during a residence of some length in the Island, during which his daily avocation gave him peculiar opportunities of acquiring information on its history and geography, and of visiting every spot to which he has directed attention.
      If his efforts prove, as he trusts they will, of use to any visiting fair Vectis, either on business or pleasure, they will not have been in vain, and he will feel himself amply rewarded for the trouble and anxiety which the production of even so small a volume as the present has entailed.
- E. S. C., May 1873
I found the book via Google Books and a proxy server, but if you want to read it in full (it's a pleasant enough me-too guide, with some interesting adverts) it's accessible as a Creative Commons file from the Bodleian Library, via the Europeana portal: The tourist's picturesque guide to the Isle of Wight.

- Ray

Shanklin Chine
West Cowes

Osborne House, the marine residence of Her Majesty

Newsport and valley of the Medina

Carisbrooke Castle

Ryde Pier


Bonchurch Pond

Old Church, Bonchurch

Blackgang Chine

The Needles, with Lighthouse

Freshwater Bay

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