London: G. Humphrey, 1822. Item #02658
The Twelve Scarce Faces of Charles Mathews
by Robert Cruikshank
[CRUIKSHANK, (Isaac Robert, illustrator]. [MATHEWS, Charles]. Proteus the 2d alias Metamorphosis ad Libitum or An Old Friend with a New Face. "One Man, in his time... plays many parts." Multum in Parve! "All that sort of thing" and "Every thing in the World." "Pon my life is true" What'll you lay it's a lie? London: G. Humphrey, May 1st, 1822. [With] An ALS From actor Charles Mathews to A. Constable Esq.
First edition. Tall octavo in accordion format (9 5/8 x 6 1/2 in; 244 x 162 mm). Extra engraved hand-colored title-page and twelve hand-colored plates in a continuous strip, each signed "IRC."
Later nineteenth century full calf, gilt ruled. Gilt lettered and ornamented spine, gilt decorated turn-ins. Light damp stains to calf not affecting internal contents.
A volume of extreme scarcity, with only one copy recorded in institutional holdings worldwide, at Harvard's Houghton Library. According to the ABPC Index, only two copies have come to auction since 1954. Not found in any of the usual sources.
Isaac Robert Cruikshank, commonly known as Robert, was George's brother, not to be confused with Issac Cruikshank, their father.
The etchings are portraits of Charles Mathews in the different characters played by him in his entertainment "At Home," with several lines of dialogue engraved beneath.
Charles Mathews (1776-1835) was an English theater manager and comic actor, popularly celebrated during his career for his gift of impersonation and skill at table entertainment. His play, "At Home," in which he played every character, was the first monopolylogue (a form of entertainment in which one actor plays many roles) and the defining work in the genre.
Archibald Constable (1774-1827), Mathews' correspondent, was a Scottish publisher, bookseller and stationer. The Constable publishing business thrived and continued into the twentieth century, issuing a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books. It continues today as Constable & Robinson.
Not in Abbey.