An unusual book primarily concerned with the use of kites in transport – with plates beautifully hand-coloured. The work was sold with plain plates at 20s or with coloured at 25s.
‘Still a Boy with the Boys,’ as stated in the dedication, George Pocock was a schoolmaster at Prospect Place Academy, a school in Bristol. He has been described as the father of kite traction since his main extra curricular interest was inventions and kites, exploring ‘Things unattempted yet.’
The book details the origin and history of the invention, going back to his own childhood. Experimenting with kites and stones, Pocock ‘wondered’ and grew ambitious. The book continues with accounts of Pocock’s experiments with kites, for example using kites to pull boats. Pocock also explains the mechanics, construction and the power of kites.
He then propounds several uses for them. Their application by sea included serving as auxiliary sails to the navy, trading vessels and merchant men. He also suggests using kites in the case of a shipwreck, using them to drop anchor. Pocock does, however, acknowledge that portions of the plan are not practicable…
Most notably, Pocock invented and patented the ‘charvolant,’ a carriage that would be pulled by two kites attached by controllable lines, rather than horses. The name for this apparatus came for the French for kite, cerf-volant, and the French for carriage, char. This carriage could allegedly reach speeds of twenty miles per hour. The book discusses journeys from Bristol to Marlborough stating that they beat one of the London stages to Marlborough by twenty-five minutes, even though the stage had a fifteen minute head start. Of this journey Pocock comments:
‘This mode of travelling is of all others the most pleasant: privileged with harnessing the invincible winds, our celestial tandem playfully transpierces the clouds, and our mystic moving car swiftly glides along the surface of the scarcely indented earth; while beholders, snatching a glance at the rapid but noiseless expedition, are led to regard the novel scene rather as a vision than a reality.’
First edition. Quarto (32.5 x 27.8 cm). Calligraphic title engraved by A. Adlard with hand-coloured aquatint vignette by P. Roberts, dedication leaf, 51 pp. with 3 hand-coloured aquatint plates by P. Roberts after T. Butterworth and S. Colman.; scattered foxing. Original drab boards with printed paper label to upper cover, rebacked with black morocco gilt, spine with raised bands; large English cartographic engraving pasted to upper pastedown.
Bobins 885; not in Abbey.
Stock ID: 93425