London: Thomas M'Lean, 1823. Item #02263
A Very Scarce Alken
With Forty-Two Hand-Colored Plates
The Schwerdt - Duke of Gloucester Copy
ALKEN, Henry. Scraps From the Sketch-Book of Henry Alken. Engraved by Himself. Containing Forty-Two Plates. London: Thomas M'Lean, 1823.
First edition with the plates all dated 1820. Oblong folio (9 9/16 x 13 5/8 inches; 243 x 347 mm.). Title leaf (verso blank), and forty-two hand-colored engraved plates heightened with gum arabic, twelve with multiple images. Plates watermarked "J. Whatman 1822 & 1824".
Bound ca. 1900 by Morrell of London (stamp-signed) in half maroon straight-grain morocco over plum cloth ruled in gilt. Front cover with rectangular maroon morocco label, bordered and lettered in gilt, spine with five raised bands, ruled and lettered in gilt in compartments, top edge gilt, marbled endpapers. The Schwerdt copy, with his bookplate and that of Prince Henry, first Duke of Gloucester on the front pastedown and the free endpaper.
A bright, clean, and superb copy of an extremely scarce album by Henry Alken.
According to Schwerdt there was an uncolored edition of 1821. While Siltzer notes an Alken Sketch Book of 1820 (34 plates), and the Scraps... edition of 1822 (assumedly mistaken for 1823). It is not in found in Tooley or Abbey in any edition.
The "Scraps" include equestrian, hunting, dog, bowling scenes, etc. In short, each print features a sporting tableau.
Of Alken, Siltzer wrote, "It took but a short time for the leading art publishers of London to recognize his genius and to discover that they had 'struck a reef' of both artistic and financial value, and the well-known firms of Thomas M'Lean, S. and J. Fuller, and Rudolph Ackermann were not slow to reaping full benefit... It appears that Alken himself occasionally engraved plates, and thus added to the facility of production..."
C.F.G.R. Schwerdt (1862-1939) was the esteemed collector whose collection of sporting books up to WWII was considered the finest ever amassed. The catalog to his collection, Hunting, Hawking Shooting, is a standard reference. Prince Henry, first duke of Gloucester (1900-1974) was a soldier and member of the British Royal Family, the third son of King George V and Queen Mary.
Schwerdt I, p. 21. Cf. Siltzer, p. 71.