London: Printed for John Murray… by W. Bulmer and Co., 1814. Item #03779
With Fifty Hand Colored Aquatint Plates
Depicting a Huge Range of Social Types
ALEXANDER, William. Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the English. Illustrated in fifty coloured engravings, with descriptions. London: Printed for John Murray… by W. Bulmer and Co., 1814.
Small quarto (8 15/16 x 6 1/8 inches; 227 x 156 mm.). [iv], Fifty hand colored aquatint plates, each with an accompanying leaf of text. Plates watermarked "J. Whatman Turkey Mills ---9" which we would estimate to be 1819.
Contemporary full maroon straight-grain morocco, covers elaborately bordered in gilt and blind, spine with four raised bands, decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments, gilt boards edges and turn-ins, all edges gilt.
A fine, albeit slightly later copy of this fascinating work.
This extraordinary work covers a huge range of social types from 'The Sovereign' to a chimney sweep, a judge to the licensed man that watered and fed the horses pulling the hackney carriages. The images and related text on the lower classes in general and the street vendors in particular are probably the most interesting. They picture and describe people who do not appear in conventional histories of the period, and offer a window into real life on the streets at the beginning of the 19th century.
Colas notes that the plates are engraved from earlier images by William Henry Pyne, presumably those published in his The Costume of Great Britain (London: 1804, 60 plates).
Pyne's work was evidently a major source for this work, as a comparison of the titles to the plates shows, but there are also a significant number of military subjects that are not in Pyne's work, suggesting a variety of sources. The plates have been executed with a refreshing liveliness and freedom that is not usually seen in books of this type, but which is typical of William Alexander's etched and engraved work.
This volume is part of a series, all of which were published uniformly in 1814 and include:
Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Austrians
Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese
Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Russians
Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Turks
Colas II, 2357; Lipperheide Gca 21; Tooley 374.