Illustrations to Popular Songs

The Duke of Gloucester's Copy
With Three of the Original Pencil Sketches By Henry Alken

ALKEN, Henry. Illustrations to Popular Songs. London: Published by Thomas M'Lean, 1823.

First edition, second issue. Oblong folio (9 15/16 x 14 3/8 inches; 253 x 366 mm.). [2] leaves (containing letterpress title and “Address” leaf). Forty-three hand-colored etched plates (including added pictorial title). With three of the original pencil sketches by Henry Alken for plates no. 5, 34, and 39. All plates dated 1822. Each plate contains two to six comical scenes, including several hunting or sporting scenes, illustrating titles of popular songs. Plates watermarked 1821-1824.

Bound ca. 1900 in quarter plum straight-grain morocco over marbled boards. Plum straight-grain morocco title label to upper board. Gilt rules to spine. Small area of discoloration to bottom of spine. With the armorial bookplate of Prince Henry, first duke of Gloucester (1900–1974). A superb copy.

“First issued in 1822, reissued in 1823, 1825, 1826, 1831” (Tooley).

"'Swans sing before they die --- 'twere no bad thing
"'Should some folks die before they sing.'

"So whispered a friend to Mr. Alken, when they were once compelled to hear the discordant notes of a volunteer at a convivial party. 'I wish it were so,' said the Artist, 'but the words of the Song furnish a good subject for a Sketch,' and he soon presented his friend with the Illustration of 'Begone Dull Care,' this was much approved of, and became the first 'Symptom' of the 'Illustrations of Popular Songs,' a Work intended to furnish the Amateur of the Fine Arts, and of Singing, with characteristic representations of his favourite subjects, that he may have the pleasure of beholding the Poet's fancy, embodied by the glowing warmth of the Artist's fertile imagination." (Introduction).

Schwerdt IV, p. 4 (1823 issue). Tooley 37. Not in Abbey. Item #02265

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