Leipzig: Georg Voss, 1804. Oblong folio (18 x 10.75 inches; 455 x 273 mm). Engraved title in the form of a sampler, 52 pages, 50 engraved plates, consisting of 25 plates in two states, colored and uncolored. 19th-century stiff marbled paper wrappers; modern cloth-backed fitted case. Title creased and dust-soiled, final plate creased, lower wrapper detached. Item #404325
SCARCE: Only the Metropolitan Museum of Art copy of this edition is located in the US. Copies of the 1802 French edition are held by the Smithsonian and Winterthur, and of the 1800 edition at U. Michigan and the Clark Art Institute. European online library databases record only a handful of copies of each edition in German, Swiss, French and British libraries. No copies have appeared at auction in the past century, according to databases.
A beautifully illustrated manual for knitting and crocheting. This is the second, enlarged edition in German and the third edition overall, following a French version published in 1802. Netto’s goal was to provide women with a methodical guide to knitting, with written instructions (lacking in most earlier knitting pattern books) for every type of knitting, from the simplest to the most complex, and including the related arts of crocheting, bobbin lace-making, filet crocheting, and other techniques. In his preface he pays tribute to the Swiss knitting master Dubois, who had traveled through Germany in the late 1780s, instructing wealthy women in sophisticated knitting artistry; some of Dubois’ techniques are the subjects of individual chapters. Netto further acknowledges the help of two of Dubois’s former Leipzig students, Frau Dr. K. and Madame P--s, and of Herr Lehmann, a talented master hosiery maker.
24 chapters and a supplement contain basic descriptions of stitches, technique, and types of yarn, and highly technical instruction, in, for example, knitting two stockings at once (one inside the other); knitting a man’s large sock in an hour; stitches for children’s clothes; the incorporation of motifs such as flowers and garlands; crocheting purses, and so on. The engraved plates are present in two states, the uncolored states showing the stitches and the colored plates the final results. They exhibit an attractive variety of decorative motifs, including letters, numbers, floral and abstract geometric motifs, and patterns for hats, a child’s dress, banners, etc. Plates 15 and 25 include depictions of crochet needles. A passage of cursive script in plate 16 has been pricked for transfer.
A drawing-master from Leipzig, Netto (1756-1810) was an imaginative and successful author of several needlework manuals, most published by Voss in Leipzig, including an important series of three embroidery manuals, also in large oblong folio format. He edited a periodical devoted to the arts of the needle (Taschenbuch der Strick-, Näh- und anderer weiblichen Arbeiten, 1801-4), and a few other manuals of the domestic arts for women, all now quite scarce. Jessen (p. 359) called the ensemble of Netto’s sample books and manuals the “most distinguished” (”am stattlichsten”) of the spate of women’s needlework manuals that appeared in the late eighteenth century in response to the new vogue for female handiwork.
The first edition of his knitting manual was published by Voss in 1800, with 30 plates (15 plates in two states). Voss issued a French-language edition of this enlarged edition with 50 plates in 1802. In the preface of the present edition the author explains that the first edition sold out faster than expected, and that for this new, improved edition the text has been organized more logically, three chapters and an index have been added, and new plates engraved (and revised) to replace the old, worn plates (this is corroborated by comparison of the plates in the present copy with the BSB digitized copy of the 1800 edition). Ten new pattern plates were added to this and the French editions. Berlin-Katalog 1537.