San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1991. Item #04837
The Standard and Essential Reference for Color Plate Books
ABBEY, Major J.R. Scenery of Great Britain and Ireland in Aquatint and Lithography 1770-1860 from the Library of J.R. Abbey, A Bibliographical Catalogue [with] Life in England… [and] Travel…. San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1991.
Reprint authorized by the trustees of J.R. Abbey and Dawsons.
Four folio volumes (12 14 x 9 1/8 inches; 310 x 232 mm.). xx, 399; xxi, 428; xiii, 299; xiv, 301-675pp. Illustrated with 633 entries complete with full collations.
Simulated maroon leather, spines lettered in gilt. A fine, as new set in the original printed dust jackets.
"I have, for over a quarter of a century, been collecting books on the Scenery of Great Britain and Ireland, illustrated with aquatints or lithographs published between the years 1775 and 1860. In this Bibliographical Catalogue, the word 'Scenery' is not strictly confined to landscape but includes architecture, and urban and social scenes. I have found it a fascinating subject and a field in which there seem to have been few serious collectors. Many of the illustrations are of real beauty, and the fact that a large number are from books of the greatest rarity and therefore known to few in their original form gives added significance to those which are reproduced in this catalogue. It is perhaps true to say that the thirty-five plates are a microcosm of the English scene as well as showing something of the social life of the period...
When I stared collecting, I had the good fortune to have the help of the late Mr. George Stevenson of Rimell, then of Duke Street, St. James's. He was the greatest authority of his day on eighteenth and nineteenth-century books of Landscape Scenery illustrated with coloured plates. Many rare and unique specimens in my collection were bought on his advice, and he impressed on me the importance of fine state. I did not acquire as many books during the pre-war years as I might have done, owning to this careful selection. I wanted books in their original state, parts or publisher's bindings in mint condition.
This was not a mere foible. In the case of paper wrappers, there is much valuable information to be found in the shape of publishers' lists and prices frequently printed on some part of their covers...
My original idea of recording all books of the period with illustrations printed in aquatint and lithograph printed in two colours has been extended to include examples in which special copies were coloured by hand after printing and, in the case of lithographs, I have included those coloured and even one or two outstanding books containing uncoloured lithograph illustrations...
This art of water-colour was one in which the English excelled, and there are in consequence far more books of Scenery published in England than on the Continent. In the main, these English water-colour books were produced by firms employing some fifty to eighty girls who executed the hand-colouring for pathetically small pay: these charming books, in spite of being all the rage at the spas and watering places and frequently, no doubt, coloured to order, are becoming rare as they have been and still are broken up by booksellers and print sellers for framing. After a few years in a frame, they become faded and but a pale reflection of their original state. In books, on the other hand, they keep their colour and if they have been well cared for, they are as fresh as when they were issued." (Jacket flaps of 'Scenery').