A GEOGRAPHICAL PRESENT: BEING DESCRIPTIONS OF THE PRINCIPAL COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD. WITH REPRESENTATIONS OF THE VARIOUS INHABITANTS IN THEIR RESPECTIVE COSTUMES, BEAUTIFULLY COLOURED.

(London: Printed for Harvey and Darton, 1820). 155 x 95 mm. (6 x 3 3/4"). 144 pp. Third Edition.

Appealing sprinkled calf by Wallis for C. E. Lauriat (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper), covers bordered by double gilt fillet, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with floral spray at center, encircled by small tools, leafy branch at corners, red morocco label, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. WITH 60 HAND-COLORED PLATES of costumes from around the world. For first edition: Lipperheide 480; Osborne Collection, p. 193. See also: Megan Nourcia, "X Marks the Spot: Women Writers Map the Empire for British Children, 1790-1895," pp. 33-34. A tiny bit of wear to the top of the front joint, occasional trivial marginal stains or the faintest of browning, but still a fine copy, clean and fresh internally with brightly colored plates, in a well-preserved lustrous binding.

Attractively bound and enhanced with excellent contemporary hand coloring, this charming introduction to geography aimed at young readers contains numerous plates depicting the traditional dress of cultures from around the world. Beginning in London and spreading to almost every corner of Western Europe, the book then guides us to Asia, Africa, and finally to the Americas, ending in Tierra del Fuego. First published in 1817, "A Geographical Present" was the author's most successful work. There is little known about the life of Mary Anne Venning, but according to Megan Nourcia, the present work "had a broad circulation, launching her career as a scientific writer and establishing her authority as an educator of the young." Nourcia also notes that "Venning's texts were marketed as educational aids of keepsake quality"; as we see here, the attractive binding and lovely hand-colored plates add an element of luxury to this pedagogical work, and the fine condition of our copy suggests that it was carefully looked after by its (presumably young) previous owners.
(ST16372e)