(London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green, 1864). 280 x 207 mm. (11 x 8 1/8"). viii, 462 pp. FIRST EDITION.
HANDSOME PERIOD RED STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, GILT, BY RIVIERE (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with double gilt-ruled borders on either side of gilt floral roll, corners with encircled gilt flower tools, raised bands flanking inlaid black morocco strips, spine in compartments with multiple gilt rules and central gilt ornaments formed of several circles, gilt lettering, gilt turn-ins, all edges gilt. With 81 in-text illustrations by Doyle, engraved and printed in color by Edmund Evans. Hardie, pp. 269-70; Muir, pp. 157-8; Ray, "England" 241. The slightest rubbing to joints (and a bit of worming at bottom of front joint), a hint of wear elsewhere, but A FINE COPY, the binding lustrous and showing few signs of use, and the text virtually flawless.
This is a very pleasing copy of a landmark work in Victorian color printing, the product of a collaboration between author and illustrator James Doyle and the brilliant printer Edmund Evans, whose work represents some of the best of the period. Although Doyle initially intended to use color facsimiles of his own watercolors for this work, the project was wisely given over to Evans (1806-1905). Evans created as many as 10 color blocks for each individual illustration, using a hand press to produce a total of 81 images, which, notably, were placed in-text rather than executed on individual plates. This unusually labor intensive practice greatly increased the difficulty of the project and required phenomenal skill, but resulted in precisely realized images that are richly hued. As Hardie notes, "Mr. Evans told me that he considered this the most carefully executed book he had ever printed." Muir also lauds Evans' artistic ability and technical skill, saying "There is no doubt of the eminence of Edmund Evans as a colour printer. . . . He had an eye for the making of a book and he raised the standards of book production at a time when they were very markedly in need of improvement." James Doyle (1822-92), son of caricaturist John Doyle and uncle to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, evidently shared the family proclivity for drawing and writing. He first trained as a painter before moving on to historical research with a special penchant for heraldry, exploiting both passions to great effect in this enduringly popular work. The beautifully executed binding of rich red morocco is an appropriate covering for the contents here. (ST15198b)