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An Act for the Encouragement of the Arts of Designing, Engraving and Etching historical and other Prints, by vesting the Properties thereof in the Inventors and Engravers, during the Time therein mentioned [&:] An Act to amend and render more effectual an Act ... for vesting in, and securing to, Jane Hogarth Widow, the Property in certain Prints

Hogarth, William & Jane et al. Copyright Acts

London. Printed by John Baskett; Printed by Mark Baskett ... and by the Assigns of Robert Baskett. 1735; 1767
The Engraving Copyright Act or Hogarth's Act of 1734 together with its successor Act granting Hogarth's post mortem rights to his widow Jane Hogarth.

Although William Hogarth is not named explicitly in the 1734 Engraving Copyright Act (enacted June 25th 1735), it has come to bear his name due to his efforts and those of the group of artists around him who pushed for it. The Statute of Anne (the Copyright Act 1710) gave protection of a limited nature to book production (and reproduction) but none to the reproduction of original works by artists. In the words of Paulson: ‘He [Hogarth] starts by exchanging aristocratic patronage for a large audience of print-buyers; but then finds himself pitted against the print sellers, who would absorb his profits. He circumvents these merchants by becoming his own distributor - at length securing an Act of Parliament to protect the ownership of his product.’

The Act itself granted protection for a period of 14 years for original works by ‘every person who shall invent and design, engrave, etch, or work in Mezzotinto or Chiaro Oscuro’. An inherent irony of the Act - and one that led directly to the later 1764 Act in which Hogarth’s widow Jane is mentioned explicitly - is the specific mention and protection to John Pine, one of the print sellers against whom Hogarth was lobbying, for his engraved series after the tapestries depicting the defeat of the Spanish Armada from the House of Lords. The 1764 Act, to 'amend and render more effectual' the previous version was also 'for vesting in, and securing to, Jane Hogarth Widow, the Property in certain Prints'. Again, as per Paulson: ‘In 1767, following her [Jane Hogarth’s] petition for aid against pirates who were taking away her livelihood, Parliament granted her a further exclusive term of twenty years copyright. This clause was added to the end of the amended Copyright Act for Engravers … ‘. Jane Hogarth's success is most remarkable given the fact that no copyright was given to only a few specific women - the widows of particular men only - and not women in general until the nineteenth century.

Hogarth made reference - at length, bathetically and with notable pride - to the 1734 Act and to those who had supported him in the caption to his print ‘Crowns, Mitres, Maces, etc.’ from ‘Four Prints of An Election’: ‘In humble & grateful Acknowledgement of the Grace & Goodness of the Legislature, Manifested, In the Act of Parliament for the Encouragement of the Arts of Designing Engraving &c; Obtain’d by the Endeavours & almost at the Sole Expence of the designer of this Print in the Year 1735: By which not only the Professors of those Arts were rescued from the Tyranny Frauds & Piracies of Monopolising Dealers and Legally entitled to the Fruits of their own Labours, but Genius & Industry were also prompted by ye most noble & generous Inducements to exert themselves, Emulation was Excited, Ornamental Compositions were better understood, and every Manufacture where Fancy has any concern was gradually raised to a pitch of perfection before unknown, Insomuch that those of Great Britain are at present the most Elegant and the most in Esteem of any in Europe.’

[8 Geo. 2 cap. 13; 7 Geo. 3 cap. 38; see Paulson pp. 3,18 & 161].
[3 leaves + 3 leaves; pp. (i), 503 - 506; (i), 215 - 218]. Small folio. (c.302 x 190 mm). Titles with the Royal arms to each and printed text largely in black letter with sections in Roman type and marginal commentary Disbound.

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