(London: Printed for A. Millar, 1742). 165 x 98 mm. (6 1/2 x 3 7/8"). With four pages of ads at the end of volume I; one leaf of ads at the beginning and two pages of ads at the end of volume II. Two volumes. FIRST EDITION.
VERY PRETTY TAN CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY RIVIERE & SON (stamp-signed on front turn-ins), covers with French fillet border, raised bands, spine compartments with central fleuron within a lozenge of dots, curling cornerpieces, gilt lettering, lacy gilt turn-ins, dark green endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed together in a brown buckram slipcase. Front pastedown with morocco bookplate of Robert Hoe. Cross III, 305; Rothschild 844; Tinker 1034. ◆Occasional mild browning or faint foxing, but AN ESPECIALLY FINE SET, clean and fresh internally, in unworn bindings.
This is a handsomely bound copy, with superior provenance, of the first appearance of a breakthrough work in the field of English literature. Fielding had a profound influence in determining the development of the novel, and this was the first great instrument of that influence. Although some of the names of the characters are facetious, the events, personalities, and settings are all characterized by convincing verisimilitude. The book was begun as a spoof of Richardson's sentimental "Pamela," but it ended up, on its own, as one of the best novels of the period. The beautiful bindings by the leading English workshop Riviere and the sparkling condition here are characteristic of books from the collection of our earlier owner Robert Hoe (1839-1911), founding member and first president of the Grolier Club. According to Beverly Chew, Hoe's library was "the finest [America] has ever contained." Hoe acquired illuminated manuscripts, early printing, French and English literature, and very fine bindings; when his library was sold in 1911-12, it fetched nearly $2 million, a record that held until the Streeter sale more than 50 years later. (ST18426)