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POPE, Thomas

A treatise on bridge architecture in which the superior advantages of the flying pendent lever bridge are fully proved. With an historical account and description of different bridges erected in various parts of the world, from an early period, down to the present time.
New York, Alexander Niven (printer), 1811

This is the first major American treatise on bridge building and was written by Thomas Pope, self-styled architect and landscape gardener. He seems also to have been a ship-builder and was thus interested in the construction of timber bridges.

Much of the book is devoted to a world history of bridges citing an astonishingly wide range of sources from Martinelli (on the great Roman bridge at Narni) to Couplet, Hutton and Perronet and describing such famous structures as Westminster, Wettingen, Sunderland, London, Coalbrookdale and Rialto bridges. He also describes some early suspension bridges, notably Finlay's Merrimack Bridge of 1810.

Telford, who is known to have owned a copy of the book, cites the description of the Merrimack Bridge in a report of 1817 on his own Runcorn suspension bridge design and it is highly likely that Pope's book was a prime influence on the introduction of suspension bridges to Europe.

However, the volume serves primarily as a vehicle for Pope's own "flying pendent lever bridge" design which he patented in 1807. It was made up of interlocking timber voussoirs (reminiscent of an earlier design by Montucla which Pope illustrates) to form a cantilevered arch curved on plan.

Pope had built a scale model of the structure and intended to build the actual bridge with an 1800 foot span across the East River. However, he was not taken seriously and in 1811 submitted a 432 foot span version for crossing the Schuylkill at Philadelphia. Although Lewis Wernwag got the job, building his famous "Colossus" bridge, he nevertheless had to modify his design so as not to infringe Pope's patent.


8vo. (x) + 288pp, 17 engraved plates. Orig. quarter sheep and orange boards. The binding materials are very cheap and there fore worn and rubbed as usual. Preserved in box. Rink No.2658.



Catalogue No: 5771