London: Printed for Jones & Co., 1821-22. Item #02183
Bob & Tom's Excellent Hand-Colored Adventures in London
With Extra Plate
ALKEN, Henry, illustrator. [EGAN, Pierce, imitation of]. Real Life in London; or, The Rambles and Adventures of Bob Tallyho, Esq. and His Cousin, the Hon. Tom Dashall, through the Metropolis; Exhibiting a Living Picture of Fashionable Characters, Manners, and Amusements in High and Low Life. By an Amateur. Embellished and Illustrated with a Series of Coloured Prints, Designed and Engraved by Messrs. Heath, Alken, Dighton, Brooke, Rowlandson, &c. London: Printed for Jones & Co., 1821-22.
First edition, third issue text with “Oxford Arms Passage” in the imprint's address replaced by "3 Warwick Square." Mixed issue plates, as usual ("many copies in modern bindings having been completed or made up of different issues" - Tooley). Two octavo volumes (8 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches; 209 x 126 mm.). x 3-656; ix, , -668 pp. Hand-colored engraved vignette titles and thirty-one hand-colored engraved plates (including frontispieces, trimmed at upper margin); a total of thirty-three plates, with tissue guards. Includes the extra plate, Tom & Bob catching a Charley Napping" (vol I, p. 480), one of two extra plates found in the 1824 fifth issue: "Though the work is complete without them, it is desirable to have them" (Tooley 200).
Early twentieth-century full fine-grained red crushed morocco by W. Root & Son of London (stamp-signed). Covers bordered in gilt with panel. Spine decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments. Gilt board edges and turn-ins, marbled endpapers. Top edge gilt. A fine set.
An imitation of Pierce Egan’s Life in London; or, The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq. and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, The Oxonian, in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis, “a work which was issued in and after July, 1821, in shilling numbers…A journalist, and a well-known character in his day, [Pierce Egan] wrote nothing so popular as this Life in London. Indeed, the taste for it amounted to a craze. For his illustrations, Egan went to two brothers, Isaac Robert and George Cruikshank…the success of the work was so great that the artists could not colour the engravings fast enough for the demand. It suited the taste of the time, when a ‘fast’ life had become a sophisticated and conscious aim. Life in London is a guide to a fast life.…Part of the success enjoyed by [Pierce Egan’s Life in London] was due, no doubt, to its readers’ belief that they could name the originals of the fictitious characters. Imitations came swift and frequent…Out of the sixty-five imitations of it which Egan stated that he had reckoned, the most important was Real Life in London, or, the Rambles and Adventures of Bob Tallyho, Esq. and his cousin, the Hon. Tom Dashall, through the Metropolis; exhibiting a living picture of fashionable characters, manners, and amusements in high and low life, which was published in sixpenny numbers in 1821, with excellent illustrations by Heath, Alken, Dighton, Rowlandson and others. Real Life in London is a pleasanter book than its prototype. Some have held that Egan wrote it; but the author had a purer style, a cleaner mind and a wider knowledge of London than Egan. The book shows many more sides of London life than his; though the formal descriptions of wellknown scenes or buildings, here and there inserted amid matter of a very different character, recall very forcibly Mr. Bouncer’s letters to his aunt in Verdant Green” (The Cambridge History of English and American Literature ).
The London bindery of W. Root & Son consistently turned-out excellent work, both on fine bindings as here, and on trade bindings and sets. Packer lists the firm in business in Red Lion Square in 1899-1901, and the December 1942 issue of The Rotarian notes with regret that W. Root had been bombed out (uprooted?) of their premises on Paternaster Row during the 1941 Blitz.
Abbey, Life, 280; Tooley 198. Cf. Tooley 200.