(London: Printed for William Griffin, 1767). 175 x 105 mm. (6 7/8 x 4 1/4"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION, First State (volume I with pp. 265-69 misnumbered pp. 165-169, p. 145 with catchword "Thoug").
PRETTY RED MOROCCO, GILT, BY STIKEMAN & CO. (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers framed by gilt fillets, oblique lancet tools at corners, raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with lancet centerpiece and leafy curls at corners, gilt lettering, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Front pastedowns with engraved bookplate of Samuel F. Barger. ESTC T146028. ◆Gutter open at final leaf of volume I, one opening with marginal printer's smudge, other trivial imperfections, but still a fine, attractive set, the text fresh and clean, and the appealing bindings with almost no signs of use.
This well-known work on English poetry was written by one of the major literary figures of the 18th century and attractively covered by a leading American binder somewhere around the turn of the 20th century. Ranging from Pope and Milton to lesser-known bards like Gay and Garth, the present collection of poetry was chosen by writer Oliver Goldsmith (1728? - 1774), who also wrote brief introductions to many of the poems, and added extensive explanatory footnotes to Pope's "Use of Riches." During the period from the retirement of William Matthews to the establishment of the Club Bindery, there was no better binder in America than Henry Stikeman, who exhibited "extraordinary skill . . . in design, inlaying, and tooling." (Maser Collection) Stikeman's firm did high-end publisher's bindings as "bread and butter" work, and luxurious gilt-tooled bindings for collectors. According to Jeff Stikeman, binding expert (and great-great grandson of Henry's brother George), those bindings signed "Stikeman" or "Stikeman & Co." (as here) are finished by hand, as opposed to the firm's later blocked bindings, which are signed "Stikeman & Co., NY." The former were done from 1887 to about 1915, the latter from 1915 to 1939. The hand tooled bindings are very much more desirable. The attractive set comes from the library of lawyer and railroad financier Samuel F. Barger (1832-1914), a longtime director of Cornelius Vanderbilt's New York Central Railroad. (ST19098)