History of the University of Cambridge, Its Colleges, Halls, and Public Buildings, A

Prime Minister Baron Grenville's Exquisite Copy
One of Fifty Large-Paper Copies on Thick Paper
Complete, with First Issue Plates
"Plates of Unequalled Merit"

ACKERMANN, R[udolph]. A History of the University of Cambridge, Its Colleges, Halls, and Public Buildings. London: Printed for R. Ackermann, by L. Harrison and J.C. Leigh, 1815.

First edition, first issue, complete, one of fifty Large-Paper copies on thick paper. Two large atlas quarto volumes (16 x 12 3/4 inches; 410 x 324 mm.). viii, [2, list of plates], [ix]-xii, 296, [6, index]; [4], 324, [8, index] pp. Engraved portrait of the Duke of Gloucester mounted on India-paper, and seventy-nine hand-colored plates (sixty-four aquatint views and fifteen engravings of university figures in academic costume) by Stadler, Havell, Agar, Bluck, Hill, and Reeve after Pugin, Westall, Mackenzie, Uwins, and Pyne. Complete with the series of sixteen hand-colored engraved portraits of the Founders. Plates and text watermarked 1811, the earliest issue we have yet handled.

Contemporary full tan calf, gilt ornamented borders and spines. All edges gilt. Armorial device of William Wyndham Baron Grenville (1759-1837) gilt-stamped to upper and lower boards. Expertly rebacked at different intervals in the past with the original spines laid-down. The margins to the first few leaves of volume two have been delicately washed to cleanse light damp stains. A near fine copy.

A stunning example of this important and highly desirable volume, scarcely found complete in large-paper format with the earliest issue prints.

"Of the thousand copies issued in monthly parts, beginning in 1813, the price of the first five hundred was 12s. 6d. and of the second 16s. a part...The volumes in their final form were priced at £16 in Elephant and £27 in atlas quarto [as this copy]... These two books [incl. History of Oxford] are among the finest ever executed... The result was the production of plates of unequalled merit... Some of the original drawings can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum..." (Prideaux, p. 126).

"Brilliant impressions…" (Abbey)

“The fine aquatints, with their somewhat old-world flavour, are well suited to reproduce the spirit and to recall the antique associations of the old quads and courts...A. Pugin, F. Nash, F. Mackenzie and W. Westall were associated in the drawings, which are worthy even of the splendid architectural monuments they commemorate, while the engraving was carried out by such masters of aquatint as J. Bluck, J.C. Stadler, F.C. Lewis, D. Havell, and others of like reputation. The result was the production of plates of unequalled merit in their particular line" (Prideaux, pp. 125-126).

The text chronicles the development of the university up to 1814, with special emphasis on the founding and development of individual colleges, halls, and public buildings. Attention is also given to important historical figures and to the hierarchical arrangements of the colleges. However, the histories are more remarkable for their illustrations, which number nearly 200.

Ackermann employed well-regarded artists of the period to execute the celebrated illustrations. Among the contributing artists were William Westall, who had served as an official artist on a Royal Navy expedition to Australia and was renowned for his landscapes, and Auguste Charles Pugin, who was known for his architectural renderings, particularly his depictions of Gothic architecture. Pugin, the largest contributing artist, produced twenty-two drawings, for which he was paid £14.3.6d apiece

The original owner of this copy, Baron Grenville, was a major, highly distinguished figure in British politics, an MP who became a lieutenant to William Pitt, then Foreign Secretary, later Pitt's principal advisor, and, finally, prime minister of the United Kingdom 1806-1807.

Abbey, Scenery, 79. Prideaux, pp. 125-126, 332. Tooley 4. Item #01718

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