PICTURESQUE RIDES AND WALKS, WITH EXCURSIONS BY WATER, THIRTY MILES ROUND THE BRITISH METROPOLIS.(London: Printed for J. Hassell, 1817-18). 162 x 102 mm (6 3/8 x 4"). Two volumes.. FIRST EDITION.
QUITE ATTRACTIVE LATE 19TH CENTURY JADE GREEN CRUSHED MOROCCO IN AN ARTS AND CRAFTS DESIGN BY WOOD OF LONDON (stamp-signed on front turn-ins), covers with gilt-rule border and stippled cornerpieces incorporating drawer handles and three graceful tulips, raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with a wide frame formed by drawer handles, heart ornaments and much stippling, turn-ins decorated with charming gilt tulips, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt, other edges rough trimmed. WITH 120 HAND-COLORED AQUATINT ENGRAVINGS of attractions in London and the Home Counties, as called for. Abbey "Scenery" 218; Tooley 251. Front joint of one volume with just a hint of rubbing at the head, faint minor spotting to covers, spines just slightly sunned to a richer green, trivial imperfections internally, but A PARTICULARLY FINE AND PRETTY SET, the text and plates very clean and fresh, and the ornate bindings lustrous and with no significant wear.
This is one of the small guidebooks that were the specialty of watercolorist John Hassell (1767-1825), offered here in a pretty Arts and Crafts-style binding. A publisher and printseller as well as an artist, Hassell illustrated his guides with hand-colored aquatints of his own drawings. Most, like ours, focused on sights within easy travelling distance of London. Here, we see a variety of stately homes and charming villages from the Home Counties surrounding London--Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Middlesex, Kent, and Surrey--the incarnation of the genteel English countryside we read of in Jane Austen. Hassell extols the virtues of this corner of England in his preface, proclaiming that "within a radius of thirty miles [of London] is to be found almost every thing that can embellish or give zest to society; that can indulge the most sanguine expectation of the amateur; gratify the meditative passion of the antiquarian; repay the most inquisitive researches of the botanist; amuse the peripatetic, or add to the enjoyments of a man of pleasure." With this book, he hoped to awaken the jaded residents of London to the rich diversions around them. To us, the volumes represent a valuable and intriguing historical record of the region during the first part of the 19th century, made all the more appealing because the decorative binding and diminutive illustrations are so charming. The bindery Wood of London was active in the last quarter of the 19th century into the 1930s. Their work ranged from decorative bindings for sets to the kind of fine morocco binding seen here, and were of consistently high quality in materials, design, and execution. (ST11727g)