(London: Published by H. R. Young and T. H. Whitely, 1819-20). 318 x 254 mm. (12 1/2 x 10"). Four volumes.
Attractive modern retrospective black half morocco over green marbled boards, flat spines divided into panels with central gilt urns, edges untrimmed, partly unopened. With 155 fine engraved portrait plates of thieves, murderers, freaks, and scoundrels. A Large Paper Copy. Second volume slightly cocked, variable offsetting from virtually all plates, perhaps a third of the leaves in volume I faintly browned and somewhat foxed, about half the plates in volume II with small, gray dampstain at lower outer corner, occasional yellowing and foxing elsewhere; undeniable condition issues, but still a satisfactory set, most of the text and plates fresh and clean, the bindings with virtually no wear, and the margins immense.
Originally appearing in parts from 1790 to 1795, this collection of portraits accompanied by letterpress biographies was the major work of author and printseller James Caulfield (1764-1826), who took shrewd business advantage of the craze for historical portraits that followed the 1769 publication of Granger's "Biographical History of England." According to DNB, Caulfield specialized "in prints illustrating Granger's twelfth class of people--'such as lived to a great age, deformed persons, convicts, &c.'--whose portraits were very often the hardest to come by," and our volumes are indeed a gallery of these types. We see the very respectable and venerable Catherine Warman, who lived to be 107, famed highwayman Richard "Dick" Turpin, several Scots who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie, a maid who ruthlessly murdered her employers, as well as a man born without arms, a "musical small coal-man," and Jeremiah White, the "humorous chaplain to Oliver Cromwell." Some of the portraits veer towards caricature or the grotesque, but as a group, they make up a memorable gallery. One could hardly hope to find a larger copy than the present one: all 32 copies recorded in ABPC since 1975 are the octavo version of our edition. There have been two other copies we know of on the market recently--one 290 mm. tall, and the other 250 mm.--but ours, measuring 318 mm. in height, has them looking up in envy. (CTS1004)
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PJP Catalog: 67.089