The absence of theatri machinarum in England is fascinating (to me at least). One question needs to be addressed: was the English printing industry capable of producing such works? The answer: absolutely.
Rostenberg's English Publishers in the Graphic Arts 1599-1700 provides some tantalizing evidence on the actual capabilities of printers at the time. She bases most of her discussion on the creators and sellers of prints and maps; depictions of monarchs factor largely in her discussion. She also gives us some hints about the status of book publishers.
She notes the importance of the lowly print seller:
Throughout her discussion, it becomes obvious that English printers and sellers were certainly capable of creating machine books as evidenced by the exploits of George Humble, Compton Holland, and Joseph Moxon. Indeed, Moxon created one of the few real examples of an English machine book: Isaac de Caus's.
One of the first technical books of a similar ilk to the TM was the first English edition of Serlio's First Book of Architecture, published in 1611 by Simon Stafford for Robert Peake, Sr. It was elaborately illustrated. Printed on both Recto and Verso, it contains sections on geometry and perspective.
From Stafford's Blum.
Fisher and Overton's Blum of 1658. Note how the title page differs.
Jenner's rival was Peter Stent. He employed a destitute Czech emigre named Wenceslaus Hollar who executed works such as the Theatrum Mulierum(1643), with 26 plates illustrating women's costumes. The small octavo format of the mulierum is quite interesting. Jenner even reused the plates of Compton Holland and the Peake brothers. In partnership with George Miller, he also issued Alexander Browne's The Whole Art of Drawing (1660).
The reign of Charles II (1660-1685) led to a resurgence in the issuence of art books due to his interest in painting. The genre of the machne book, however, seems to have been forgotten.
Another notable printer was Robert Morden. He specialized in works on fortifications: He published Anderson's The genuine use and effects of the gunne, The making of rockets, and To cut the rigging. He also published the anonymous works of " S.J.": Military Discipline and Fortification and Military Discipline. While these works are undeniably technical in nature, they lack the sophisticated plates of the TM.
There are a few other factors that may have contributed to the distinctly poor uptake of machine books in England. Cost seems like an obvious issue but likely was not a contributing factor. As Rosenberg notes, the cheese and brandy purchased by--respectively--Evelyn and Hooke, would have purchased a bound copy of Pricke's edition of Le Clerc's Magnum in Parvo or the Practice of Geometry.
The Interregnum may also have been a factor. It could have led to a certain rejection of art. It's possible--if unlikely--that the Interregnum led to a certain loss of skills. Or perhaps a rise of a new genre or expectation. For example, Thomas Scott, a "vituperative anti-Spanish publicist" (pg. 27), campagined against "popish fiends" and their books and images.There may have been a situation that dictated that only text was pious; unlike the Continent where visual works were irreligious and available to both Catholics and Protestants.