(London: Printed by C. Whittingham for T. Heptinstall, 1798). 254 x 156 mm. (10 x 6 1/8"). 1 p.l., 22 pp.,  leaf, 364 pp.
CONTEMPORARY ACID-TREATED CALF BY CHARLES HERING [SR] (his ticket on verso of front free endpaper), covers framed by onlaid black morocco tooled with gilt floral rolls, central panel with large stencilled urn on a speckled ground, raised bands, spine compartments with gilt rule border and foliate cornerpieces as well as an oval urn-and-palm-frond centerpiece stamped in black, black and red morocco labels, turn-ins with gilt Greek key roll, brown endpapers with gilt floral frames, all edges gilt (front joint expertly renewed). Engraved title page, engraved frontispiece portrait, and eight engraved plates, all but one with tissue guards. ◆Rear joint, backstrip, and extremities a bit rubbed, spine a little crackled, faded, and abraded, title page and plates a bit foxed, leaves slightly browned at edge; not without condition issues, but still a carefully restored volume with most of its original considerable appeal intact.
Even with its imperfections, this is an appealing example of the stencilled binding popular at the close of the 18th century but infrequently seen today. The funereal design of the stencils is well suited to the somber subject matter of the most frequently published English poem of the 18th century, here in a luxurious illustrated edition. Edward Young (1683-1765) began his immensely popular "Night Thoughts" in 1742 as an outlet for his grief over the death of his wife, step-daughter, and son-in-law. It is imbued with melancholy and prefigures the gothic taste of the following century. According to P. J. M. Marks' account of "The Edwards of Halifax Bindery," a number of binderies at the end of the 18th century experimented with decorative techniques using acid. "Designs were . . . made by sprinkling, marbling, staining and the use of stencils," with some of the designs (as here) incorporating images, especially of classical objects. (ST12745)