Lays of Ancient Rome; With illustrations, original and from the antique, drawn on wood by George Scharf, Jun.

A Majestical 'Sunken-Panel' Binding
By Sangorski and Sutcliffe

[SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE, binders]. MACAULAY, Thomas Babington. Lays of Ancient Rome. With illustrations, original and from the antique, drawn on wood by George Scharf, Jun. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1847.

First Illustrated Edition. Octavo (8 1/16 x 6 7/16 inches; 205 x 163 mm.). 210., [2, adverts] pp. Extra wood-engraved title, wood-engraved text illustrations, and head- and tailpieces. Original illustrated paper wrappers bound in at the rear.

Bound ca. 1910 in chestnut brown crushed morocco, gilt and inlaid, by Sangorski & Sutcliffe (stamp-signed on rear turn-in), covers with architectural gilt frame enclosing an inlaid sunken panel of blue-gray morocco, that on the upper cover densely stippled in gilt and inlaid with a Roman helmet and weapons within an olive wreath, that on lower cover with gilt tooled inlaid shield and bows and arrows; raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with floral centerpiece, sky blue morocco doublures enclosed by a frame of brown morocco tooled with multiple gilt rules and decorative rolls and with floral corner-pieces, matching blue morocco endleaves with double gilt rule border.

The edges are gilt and beautifully gauffered with olive branches and decorative borders.

Housed in the full dark green morocco, silk-lined and padded drop-front box (a little worn).

This notably masculine binding covers the first illustrated edition of historian, essayist, and post Thomas Babington Macaulay’s poetic retelling of stories from ancient Roman history. With this “Lay of Ancient Rome,” originally published in 1842 and its many subsequent editions, Macaulay (1800-59) acted on the hypothesis that the early books of the ancient Roman historian Livy (64 or 59 B.C.-17 A.D.) were based upon long-lost oral poetry that had been rendered into prose. With the goal of returning Livy’s stories to their original form, he expressed them in ballads for readers of English. With imagination and careful execution, our animated binding clearly reflects the volume’s contents. The upper cover displays familiar symbols of ancient Rome: the fasces (the bundle of rods with projecting axe), the prominent abbreviation “SPQR” (standing for “the Senate and the People of Rome”), and the galea (the helmet of the Roman soldier). The lower panel continues the display of power with a decorative shield and quiver of arrows. Each panel is framed by Neoclassical motifs, and the whole projects the strength and majesty that was Rome. The illustrations here are by George Scharf (1820-95), English art critic, illustrator, and director of the National Portrait Gallery. Item #03119

Out of stock