First published in 1892, this book predates the widespread use of wire fences. The author notes the increasing popularity of barbed wire for fencing large properties, but then goes on to describe traditional fencing methods in exquisite detail. Starting with rail fences, such as the zigzag and stake-and-rider styles, the author moves on to fences made of sod, stone, saplings, boards, pickets, and then a wide variety of hedges, not the ornamental style but the kind used to contain animals.
The section on gates is the strongest part of the book. It not only includes a wide variety of gate styles, but deals at some length with the prevention of sag in gates and compensation for it once it occurs. It covers swing gates, balance gates, swivel gates, lift gates, flood gates and a generous selection of wickets and stiles.
The section on bridges is eminently practical. It deals only briefly with large structures and then focuses on the types of bridges and culverts that a small property owner might require. As with the rest of the book, this section has excellent illustrations of all of the types. In fact, the book has some 300 illustrations in all, indicating the importance in the 1800s of being able to sell a book based on its illustration because a much smaller percentage of the population was literate than is currently the case.
This book is a charm, even if you have no intention of building fences, gates or bridges. It has little nuggets of information sprinkled throughout. For example, it shows a variety of gate closures made solely of wood and it deals with the fencing of gullies and streams (including floodgates) as if this was common knowledge, showing a dozen approaches to the problem. All in all a superb book. Softcover, Smyth sewn, 5 1/2" × 8 1/2", 192 pages. Reprinted in 1999.