Symptoms of Being Amused; Volume 1

With Forty-Two Hand-Colored Engraved Plates Containing Approximately 200 Comical Vignettes

ALKEN, H[enr]y. Symptoms of Being Amused. Vol. I. London: Published by Thos. McLean: Repository of Wit & Humour, 1822.

First edition. Oblong folio (9 1/16 x 12 7/8 inches; 230 x 321 mm.). Hand-colored engraved title and forty-one hand-colored engraved plates, each containing several vignettes with humorous titles. Bound without the single leaf of text (“Symptoms of a Preface”). Plates watermarked 1821.

One plate with small piece missing from upper blank margin, two other plates with neatly repaired lower marginal tears - one just affecting plate mark, a few minor marginal fox marks, otherwise a fine copy.

Contemporary half red calf over marbled boards, smooth spine decoratively tooled in gilt, maroon morocco label lettered in gilt, green endpapers. Extremities lightly rubbed. Housed in quarter maroon morocco over red cloth clamshell case. Smooth spine decoratively ruled in gilt, dark blue morocco label lettered in gilt. Front joint of clamshell case cracked.

“Symptoms of being Amused and Illustrations to Popular Songs, published by T. M‘Lean in 1822 and 1823, are oblong quartos, containing forty-two plates each. These are soft-ground etchings, coloured by hand, and were originally issued in seven monthly parts… Each page is packed tight with random, haphazard sketches, with titles laboriously fitted, of a strained and very tiresome wittiness. They form a kind of rough-and-tumble, knock-about entertainment, with little taste or refinement, that seems to have had some topical interest at the time of publication, for we ar told of the Symptoms that ‘an unprecedented Sale of 30,000 bespeaks the Public estimation of the unrivalled spirit and fertility of design, evinced throughout this Novel and Elegant Work’” (Martin Hardie, p. 183).

“There are around 200 comical vignettes in the book, a good share of them having to do with riding and fox-hunting” (Mellon/Podeschi).

“Although Vol. I appears on the title page, no other volume was completed; a second was commenced, but only reached 18 plates. These latter are extremely rare. They bear imprint, London Published by Thomas McLean Repository of Wit & Humour 26 Haymarket 1824” (Tooley).

Martin Hardie, pp. 179, 183, and 319; Mellon/Podeschi 114; Schwerdt I, p. 27; Sparrow pp. 22-23; Tooley 57. Item #03361

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