(London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1845). 242 x 170 mm. (9 5/8 x 6 5/8"). vi, [ii] (plate list), 280 pp.Edited by the Countess of Blessington.

Attractive contemporary dark brown pebble-grain morocco, covers with thick and thin gilt rule border, central gilt mandorla, raised bands, gilt titling, gilt-rolled turn-ins, pale yellow endpapers, all edges gilt. Extra engraved title page with vignette, and 12 engraved portraits of society beauties, with original tissue guards. ◆A breath of rubbing to extremities, a touch of light marginal foxing to half the plates, otherwise A FINE COPY, clean and fresh with wide margins in a virtually unworn binding.

Heath's Book of Beauty was published from 1832--when it became an immediate bestseller--to 1847. As seen here, its portraits of aristocratic women provide a window into mid-century Victorian culture, particularly its understanding of beauty, fashion, and class. From a family of respected English engravers, author Charles Heath (1785-1848) was an illustrator, a book publisher, a currency and stamp printer, and a pioneer in British lithography. The Countess of Blessington, editor of this volume, presided over the most celebrated salon for writers and artists of her time; Charles Dickens, amongst many other British and European luminaries, was a frequent guest. The text includes poems, some of these written in response to the portraits here, and romantic short stories whose heroines find domestic bliss after a series of misadventures. With its attractive, rather feminine binding, our volume would have made a lovely gift for a Victorian lady (and could work in the same way again).

Price: $400.00