London: Sherwood, Jones and Co. [through 1826], 1825. First Edition. Supposed First Issue (with plate 28 , vol. I, misdated 1284 and p.222, vol. II, blank) of one of the finest English color plate books, complete in two volumes. (Abbey and Tooley disagree, with Abbey arguing that these points are without bibliographical value.) Royal 8vo: xiii,417; xv,,399,pp, with 71 hand-colored aquatints by Robert Cruikshank, Rowlandson, and others; 1 uncolored woodcut plate and 74 wood engravings in text. Bound in full crimson levant morocco, covers framed with French fillets, elaborately gilt-tooled spines and dentelles, marbled end papers, all edges gilt. the binding exquisite. Light bumping and wear to several corners, mild offsetting from plates, very occasional foxing, still an excellent copy inside and out, the binding exquisite, the plates vividly colored. Abbey Life 325. Tooley 504. Prideaux, p. 310. Martin Hardie, pp. 191-92. Item #BB1304
Originally published in 24 monthly parts, The English Spy provides a vivid panorama of English high- and low-life, "a veritable chronique scandaleuse of the time. In the pages of this extraordinary work figure all the notables of the day, either openly or under slight disguise" (Hardie). Described by Prideaux as "perhaps the most daring book ever published," as many of the characters, including Lord Byron, Beau Brummell, Pierce Egan, Pea-green Hayne, Henry Brougham, and the Duke of Wellington, were instantly recognizable to its early readers. Most of the plates are by Robert Cruikshank, who figures in the book under the pseudonym "Robert Transit"; two plates are by Thomas Rowlandson, notably "R.—A.'s [Royal Academicians] of Genius Reflecting on the True Line of Beauty at the Life Academy" (featuring portraits of West, Shee, Haydon, Lawrence, Westmacott and Flaxman); a few others were contributed by G. M. Brighty and T. Wageman. The numerous in-text woodcuts are after Cruikshank, Rowlandson, Gillray and Finlay. The lively text is by the journalist (and blackmailer) C. M. Westmacott, notorious as a muckraker and for extorting large sums of money from victims, including royalty, eager to keep their names out of print. N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed.