Melton prior Institut


Linton- Life in the Collections

Samuel Croxall:

9) Fables of Aesop and others. Newly done into English. With an Application to each Fable. Illustrated with Cuts.

London 1722 / 1754

The sixth edition.

This book provides a valuable insight into the very beginnings of the wood engraving technique. Linton in his Masters of Wood Engraving praised this Croxall Edition of Aesop’s Fables as being “our first English book with cuts of noticeable worth, a book in after time to revolutionize the whole method and process of engraving in wood. (...) This book is the fountain-head of the Bewick river and overflow. (...) Sixty years saw the Fables unrivaled." Bewick himself had pointed to the seminal example of the illustrated Croxall edition in his preface to his Fables. He took the noted copper engraver Elisha Kirkall or his apprentice John Baptist Jackson for the author of the cuts and assumed the material had not been  wood, but a soft, lead-like metal. Linton questioned the authorship of Jackson, who later became famous for his chiaroscuro woodcuts, out of biographical reasons, and he stresses the significance of Kirkhall. He even takes Kirkhall for the supposable founder of the white-line technique, the very mode of engraving which had helped to establish Bewick’s fame.

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Some Croxall-cuts in comparison with the engravings of the Bewick-edition.