Opening page with engraved titling of "MR. LINLEY'S COMMERCIAL AND MATHEMATICAL ACADEMY."

(Leeds: Mr. Linley's . . . Academy, Low Ash Hall, Sheffield, [ca. 1870]). 238 x 295 mm. (9 3/8 x 11 5/8"). 12 unnumbered leaves, the last blank.

Original white faux moiré wrapper, upper cover with a glazed oval color vignette of a pastoral scene at the center enclosed by a large and very ornate frame of green and gilt. First page with elegant engraved cartouche (around engraved Linley information) featuring three lovely vignettes of Cambridge landmarks, original purple tissue guard. First page with ink ownership inscription of Master S. M. Hibberd, dated 1870; final leaf signed by Hibberd and dated "Christmas 1870." ◆Wrappers lightly soiled with half a dozen tiny chips or wrinkles to edges, minor thumbing to a corner of the first leaf, but a well-preserved copy of an easily damaged item, the binding still bright and tight, and the leaves with their careful calligraphy remarkably clean and fresh.

The neatly copied penmanship exercises in this book lack ornate flourishes, but were no doubt essential to Master Hibberd's success in life. He was a pupil at a boarding school near Sheffield, England, where young men trained for a career in business, and a neat handwriting would be a pre-requisite for employment as a clerk. The exercises here consist of writing out moral platitudes ("Beware of intemperance"; "Learning merits patronage"; "Penmanship is most desirable"), each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. Linley's school is of some interest to Dickens readers because it was thought by some to be the model for the Yorkshire school conducted by Squeers in "Nicholas Nickleby," a place where boys were ill-treated and barely fed (the novel prompted a considerable controversy about methods of public schools as a result). However, our academy was, in fact, a much more benign place, and Linley was even encouraged (but declined) to undertake libel litigation against Dickens. Someone was obviously proud of young Hibberd's accomplishments here--and probably was fond of the very handsome front cover--, as this fragile item has remained in near-original condition for almost a century and a half. Such material is very uncommonly seen on the market.

Price: $350.00