Thomas Nevell’s copy of the Carpenters’ Company Articles and Rules for Measuring and Valuing House-Carpenters Work, published in 1786, is an anomaly. As printed on the book plate, copies were loaned to members and were required to be returned to the Company at the time of their death. Indeed, the minutes of the Company record the actions of Company members visiting widows of deceased Carpenters’ Company members to retrieve copies of the Articles and Rules so they would not fall into the hands of non-members.  Nevell’s personal copy is annotated with prices that would have been copied from a master book of prices at Carpenters’ Hall making it an invaluable research tool for historians. But was Nevell’s copy returned to the Carpenters’ Company before at the time of his death? We don’t know the answer because the copy of the Articles and Rules lent to Nevell cannot be located, all we have is the lucky circumstance of it being photographed by the Historic American Buildings Survey for the Library of Congress sometime in the mid-20th century. When Erin Kuykendall Thomas was working on her thesis on the working world of Thomas Nevell in 2010 we assumed it would be found at one of three locations: The Carpenters’ Company library at Carpenters’ Hall, the American Philosophical Society where many of the records of the Carpenters’ Company are on deposit, or the Library of Congress.  But Ms. Thomas’s extensive research at the APS and Carpenters’ Hall and communication with librarians at the Library of Congress failed to turn up Nevell’s copy. Charles Peterson, F.A.I.A.. who wrote about finding an old packing crate containing some copies of the Articles and Rules while rummaging in the attic of Carpenters’ Hall, and would write the introduction and annotate the modern reprint of the Articles and Rules that is still in print, does not mention Nevell’s copy and it is unclear if he knew of its existence. So, we don’t know if Nevell’s copy was returned as per the by-laws of the Company. While it cannot be located today for examination or display we at least have the photographic plates made from it and with the digital world upon us, they are now available to the public for all to examine. You can find it here.

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Plan of Carpenters’ Hall

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