(London: John Murray, 1831). 222 x 140 mm. (8 3/4 x 5 1/2"). Five volumes. Edited "with numerous additions and notes" by John Wilson Croker.
FINE DARK GREEN CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY J. LARKINS (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers bordered with plain and decorative rules, raised bands, spine compartments with central fleuron lozenge surrounded by small tools, volute cornerpieces, gilt titling, richly gilt dentelles, all edges gilt. Folding map and five frontispiece portraits (two each of Johnson and Boswell and one of Mrs. Piozzi), as called for, and EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED with a folding facsimile, and 212 PLATES consisting of portraits and landscapes, five of these folding and one hand-colored. Occasional neat pencilled marginalia. Pottle, pp. 177-80; Fleeman, p. 1770. Spines uniformly sunned to a pleasing brown (as usual with green morocco), mild to moderate offsetting from plates, intermittent insignificant foxing, other very minor defects to bindings and text, but a very pleasing set, clean and fresh internally, in lustrous bindings that look handsome on the shelf.
This is an attractively bound and lavishly extra-illustrated copy of the first printing of the celebrated edition of Boswell's "Life of Johnson" done by John Wilson Croker, LL.D., F.R.S. (1780-1857). Pottle says that "the publication of this remarkable edition opens an entirely new era in the history of Boswell's ["Life of Johnson"] . . . . The new materials which Croker collected far exceed in bulk and intrinsic importance the contributions to the exegesis of Boswell made by any other editor." To begin with, he discovered and printed for the first time about 100 new letters of Johnson; then he wrote frequent clarifications in the existing notes; and finally he incorporated substantial additional materials drawn from other sources such as those portions of the memoirs of Mrs. Piozzi and Hawkins that relate to Johnson. Pottle says that in collecting materials, Croker was "the most acute and indefatigable of all Boswell's editors" and that "no other editor has equalled him in detective skill." To give a sense of what Croker added, one need realize only that he started with a variorum edition containing about 1,100 annotations, and then added no fewer than 2,500 notes of his own. Croker's efforts have been complemented here by a thorough "grangerizing" of this text with portraits of the personalities discussed and views of the cities, landscapes, and stately homes that figured in Dr. Johnson's life. The appealing bindings are characteristic of the finely executed work of typically classic design by Jeremiah Larkins. Packer lists Larkins at work in London as early as 1879 and as late as 1901, with premises after 1886 successively at 21, 23, and 6 Charles Street in Hatton Garden. The son of a widowed fruit seller in Lambeth and the father of 10 children, he is said to have died in 1907 at the age of 74. Two of his sons were binders, and one daughter was also in the trade as a book folder. (ST16028)
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PJP Catalog: Sets1.051