Tag Archives: heraldic design

Eighteenth-Century Heraldic Designs

townleyWe recently acquired W. Townley’s archive of heraldic designs and other related pieces. Drawn by Mr. Townley in pen and pen & ink, these designs date from the second half of the 18th century. Included is a sketchbook (measuring 320 x 205 mm), in marbled wrappers, which holds 43 drawings of heraldic supporters such as birds, beasts and humans. The majority are fully formed figures in ink and wash, with watercolor used for  the uniform of a soldier and the robe of a female figure.

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What is most interesting is that many are “pricked” with pin holes marking the outline of the design so that it can be transferred to another surface. If you click on one of the thumbnails posted here, it is easier to see the holes in the enlargement. Several are folded and the design copied from one side to the other, ensuring the exact proportions are maintained. In this manner, only one side needs to be “pricked” since they are the same (in reverse).

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There are an additional nine heraldic designs, four impressive drawings of classical vases (the largest measuring 395 x 278 mm, with pricking), and 17 drawings of human figures, wild and domestic animals, and farmyard and camp scenes, some with watercolour and a number with pricking.

Also included are two manuscript fragments. The first contains a herald’s expenses and income in 1755, including fees for drawing up various pedigrees. The second records court announcements, including the appointment of Charles townley archive4
Townley to the office of Lancaster Herald in 1781 (having been Bluemantle Pursuivant since 1774).

Amongst five small printed pieces are two bookplates of Sir Charles Townley, as Clarenceux King of Arms (a post he held from 1755 until 1773) and as Garter Principal King of Arms (1773-4). It appears that our W. Townley was a relation of Sir Charles Townley (1713-1774) and his son Charles (1749-1800). He never held high office himself, but these drawings show him to have been an heraldic draughtsman of some accomplishment.



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W. Townley’s Archive of Heraldic Designs, 18th century. Sketchbook and loose pages with drawings in pen and ink with watercolor. Graphic Arts Collection 2013- in process.