(London: Printed for John Stockdale, 1790). 220 x 132 mm. (8 3/4 x 5 1/4"). Two volumes. With a life of the author by George Chalmers. First Edition with these Illustrations.

Attractive marbled calf by Morrell (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper), covers with gilt French fillet border, central panel framed by double blind rules with oblique gilt floral sprays at corners, raised bands, spine panels with central gilt lozenge surrounded by blind tooling, two red morocco labels, densely gilt turn-ins, all edges gilt. Two engraved title pages, one engraved author portrait, and 14 full-page engraved plates (including two frontispieces), designed by Stothard and engraved by Meland. Lowndes I, 613; Brunet II, 566. ◆A little crackling to leather and minor flaking to joints (both no doubt related to the acid treatment of the calf), isolated trivial rust spots or marginal foxing, but quite an excellent copy--clean, fresh, and bright internally, in well-preserved bindings.

This is quite a clean and bright copy of a special edition of the classic adventure tale, with pleasing illustrations, an 80-page biography of Defoe, and a binding by a leading West End workshop. First published in 1719 and still beloved today, "Robinson Crusoe" is a tale of endurance and ingenuity in which a marooned seaman rises to the challenges of 28 years on a desert island, his solitude relieved only by the eventual appearance of the loyal native Friday. Publisher John Stockdale (ca. 1749-1814) was a former valet who rose to printing prominence with premises in Piccadilly. He was prosecuted in a famous trial of 1789 for libel after publishing Logan's "Review of the Charges against Warren Hastings," but acquitted in an important decision for freedom of the press, which led to the passage of the Libel Act of 1792. (This acquittal did not, however, prevent Stockdale from being fined £200 for libel in 1809.) The lively engravings are the work of one of the most prolific and popular illustrators of the 18th and 19th centuries. DNB says that Stothard (1755-1834) "illustrated almost the whole range of English literature with a taste that seldom failed and a sympathy that was often remarkable," attaining "a place which is second to none for invention and grace." Houfe says that "Stothard was by far the most successful and distinguished illustrator of his day," estimating that "his total contributions" were in excess of 5,000, "most of them figure subjects which the artist took from nature." He was a close friend of Blake, and his work often resembles that of his more famous colleague. In her "Modern Bookbindings" (1906), Prideaux says that Morrell at that time had a very large business that supplied "all the booksellers with bindings designed by his men," bindings that were "remarkable for their variety and merit."

Price: $950.00