London: Published at the Punch Office, 1846. Item #04273
"624 Pages of Unremitting Forced Wit"
Among the Most Popular and Best of Leech's work
With Twenty Hand Colored Steel Engraved Plates
[LEECH, John, illustrator]. A’BECKETT, Gilbert Abbott. The Comic History of England. [Parts One and Two], [each] With Ten Coloured Etchings, and One Hundred and Twenty Woodcuts. By John Leech. London: Published at the Punch Office, 85, Fleet Street, July 1846 - February 1848.
First edition in the original twenty (bound in nineteen) monthly parts.
Octavo (8 13/16 x 5 7/8 inches; 224 x 149 mm.). Half-titles printed in red, title-pages printed in red and black. -320; -28, [xii], 29-304, [xii] pp. Twenty hand-colored steel engraved plates (many with original tissue-guards). 240 woodcut illustrations in the text. Small piece torn away from upper corner in part II (pp. 37/38) just affecting page number, some lower marginal foxing to some leaves in part VI, last woodcut on p. 288 (part IX) expertly hand colored.
Several front wrappers with early ink initials.
The set collates complete except for the 2 pp. blue paper advertisement for Phillip & Co in part I, and the pink slip advertising The Battle of Life etc. in part VI. However this set does have an additional 2 page advertisement (printed in red and blue) at the end of part V (New Weekly Periodical of Original Music).
An excellent set chemised in a quarter gray morocco over blue cloth boards slipcase.
"In all 20 coloured plates and 240 woodcut illustrations by John Leech. Issued in 19/20 monthly parts in paper wrappers and on completion in cloth at one at one guinea. This work is usually listed under A'Beckett, but its value is almost entirely due to Leech. A'Beckett's text is amusing if read in snatches, but 624 pages of unremitting forced wit becomes monotonous, and few would keep the book but for the illustrations. The coloured plates are beautifully rendered, and though the woodcuts do not compare in execution with the etched plates they are as fine in conception, and show infinitely more subtle humour than the text. Among the most popular and best of Leech's work. The half-titles in first issue must be printed in red." (Tooley, p.245).
Artist and illustrator John Leech (1817-1864) provided the illustrations for Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, amongst other celebrated Victorian volumes, and was one of the first illustrators for the classic satirical journal, Punch. He established “a convention of social humour that was to last until the 1920s…Extravagantly praised by Ruskin, Leech’s often careless but never crude drawings have survived in charm and humour to give us a refreshing glimpse of mid-Victorian society” (Simon Houfe, The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914).
Abbey, Life, 434; Tooley 295; Martin Hardie, pp. 210-211.
Out of stock