(New York: T. H. Morrell, 1866-67). 241 x 159 mm. (9 1/2 x 6 1/4"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION. ONE OF 200 OCTAVO COPIES FOR SUBSCRIBERS (an additional 60 copies were printed in quarto).
STRIKING 19TH CENTURY DARK BROWN MOROCCO, BEAUTIFULLY GILT, BY STIKEMAN (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper), raised bands, spines intricately gilt in double-ruled compartments with elaborate inner frame of curls, volutes, and fleurons, marbled sides and endpapers, top edges gilt. With small oval portraits on the title pages. List of subscribers, among them bibliographer Joseph Sabin, at the end of volume II. Sabin 35058; Howes I-75. Leaves faintly browned at edges (as no doubt in all copies), boards a bit chafed, minor wear to joints and extremities (one corner slightly bumped), but still a handsomely bound set in excellent condition, the volumes showing no serious wear, and the text quite smooth and clean.
This major work on the early history of the American theatre chronicles more than a century of the plays presented at the various New York houses and the performers who appeared in them. According to the "Oxford Companion to American Theatre," author Ireland (1817-98) has "filled the book with numerous useful biographical sketches and other background information." A retired businessman, Ireland devoted himself to the history of the stage, also producing two biographies of actors. The binding here is notable as an elaborately gilt product of the workshop of Henry Stikeman. According to the catalogue of the Frederick Maser Collection, during the period from the retirement of William Matthews to the establishment of the Club Bindery, there was no better binder in America than Stikeman, who exhibited "extraordinary skill . . . in design, inlaying, and tooling." (ST11462a-056)
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PJP Catalog: 63.466