History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminster; Its Antiquities, and Monuments. In Two Volumes

A Large Paper Copy of Ackermann's Westminster

ACKERMANN, Rudolph. The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminster, Its Antiquities and Monuments. In Two Volumes. London: R. Ackermann, 1812.

First edition, Large-Paper Copy. Two large folio volumes (13 7/8 x 11 1/2 inches; 352 x 292 mm.). [iii]-xviii, [ii], 330, [vi, index]; [iii-iv], 275, [1, blank], [iv, index] pp. (pp. 204/205 repeated with asterisks). Complete with both half-titles. Text by William Combe. Portrait of William Vincent (uncolored) printed on India paper. Engraved Plan of Westminster Abbey (uncolored), one hand-colored line engraving and eighty hand colored aquatint plates. Uncolored line engraving on page 151 in volume one. Plates watermarked "J. Whatman 1808".

Contemporary three-quarter maroon morocco over maroon pebbled cloth boards ruled in gilt. Spines with five raised bands, decoratively bordered and lettered in gilt in compartments, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, others uncut. With the armorial bookplate of J.J. Reynolds on each front paste-down.

A very tall copy with the fore and lower edges uncut. Some sporadic light foxing, offsetting (from plates to text only) and toning, otherwise a really nice copy of this monumental work on the Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminster.

Tooley states that the 'full size' was 14 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches - our copy has been trimmed by 3/8 inch on the top margin only. The portrait of William Vincent printed on India paper is actually laid over a 'proof before letters' of the plate.

One of the quintessential English Regency color-plate books. Ackermann's Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminster is a superbly illustrated study of one of the "most interesting edifices in the British Empire. Its remote antiquity, its edificial beauty, the character and variety of its architecture, as well as the ornament it affords to the metropolis, give it a superior distinction" (introduction). "In The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminister, Ackermann employed a variety of artists used to bring out in the plates the luster of stained glass windows and the 'dim religious light' of the chapels" (Penn Special Collections exhibition). Among the illustrators were F. Mackenzie, A. Pugin, J. Bluck, and T. Sutherland. Although described on the added title-page as a "Companion and Continuation of The Microcosm of London," the work stands on its own merits as one of Ackermann's most ambitious and successful topographical color-plate books; Combe's text, which unashamedly exudes a sense of national pride, is both interesting and informative.

Ackermann's Westminster was originally issued in wrappers in sixteen parts, and on completion in boards at £15.00. Large-paper copies have the portrait of William Vincent on India Paper. The finest copy is preserved and may be seen in a glass case in Westminster Abbey; the letterpress is printed on vellum, with all the original drawings mounted and bound in. (Tooley)

Abbey, Scenery, 213; Tooley 2; Prideaux p. 331. Item #03430

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