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Skyring's Builders' Prices - corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring

11/10/2009

Skyring's Builders' Prices -  corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring 4Part of the fun of working on "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker" was it gave me a chance to dip into lots of other interesting material. One important reference work was "Skyring's Builders' - Prices corrected to 1833". W. H. Skyring was a surveyor that starting in the early 19th century compiled lists of joiner's, carpenter's, and other construction trades operations with prices for the operations. How much materials should cost, how much labor should be, etc.

His lists were an accepted standard for wages. Many contractors, especially on the low end paid much less, and if in a rush I suppose you would pay a premium but overall it was an accepted guide for construction work in the London market.

Price lists for most of the woodworking crafts exist. In larger cities like London lists survive for cabinet making, carving, chairmaking to name a few. In many cases (not in Skyring's) the prices were the result of negotiations between trade unions and masters. The lists were updated and reissued for various trades throughout the 19th century when the trades either died or were heavily mechanized. Many industries also maintained price lists for all sorts of industrial trades that were heavy on hand work. Smaller cities would have their own guides and price guides survive from the pre-industrial days of the United States.

From the point of the "Joiner and Cabinet Maker" Skyring helps put everything in a historic framework with real numbers. However, what relevance, if any, does it have today? Obviously in the past 175 years wages have changed, materials have changed, and the way the work is done has changed. But what you have in Skyring is an exhaustive dissection of the parts of a project. And this is still important. The best way to figure out what a new job should be bid at is to look at previous, similar jobs. Anyone who is a successful builder, contractor, or cabinetmaker has their own informal price guide tucked away somewhere. With new multipliers for labor and materials, the book might directly corrolate to the costs of doing a traditional or restoration job. For everyone else, seeing how mundane operations were broken down into atomic units of costs, might give understanding on how to address the pricing breakdown of a modern job.


As for the book, in the days before copyright piracy was a major problem and all the early editions of Skyring are hand signed by Mr. Skyring himself and numbered as proof of having and authentic copy. I don't know when this practice was stopped.

Click here for more about the Skyring Family.


Below are some less than perfectly scanned pages from Skyring 1833 (click on the images for an enlarged image). There are a few scans of Skyring from various dates on Google but the scans are horrific. (we have included other pages from the book - not these scans in the Joiner and Cabinetmaker reprint.

Skyring's Builders' Prices -  corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring 5Skyring's Builders' Prices -  corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring 6Skyring's Builders' Prices -  corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring 7Skyring's Builders' Prices -  corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring 8
Skyring's Builders' Prices -  corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring 9Skyring's Builders' Prices -  corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring 10Skyring's Builders' Prices -  corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring 11Skyring's Builders' Prices -  corrected to 1833 by W. H. Skyring 12


N. B. This dogeared copy from 1833 is one of three in my collection. By far the one in the worse condition it is one I have that is closest to the publication of the "Joiner and Cabinet Maker". All the earlier editions are similar, mostly just with adjusted prices and the odd additional note.
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11/10/2009 tico vogt
I'm enjoying your book. I own a little volume about the trades of London in the 18th century that indicates joinery work lead to the earliest demise of all workers. By the time an apprentice got done with all that demanding jack planing, I imagine his life fource was severely compromised.

What are the chances that there were books similar to Moxon and Roubo written in Scandinavian countries, Germany, or Asia?
Pretty good I would guess but since I can't read those languages I don't really know.
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