London: Published by Lewis & Co., 1834. Item #05180
Six of the Incredibly Rare Tregear's Black Jokes
"A Series of Laughable Caricatures on the March of Manners Amongst the Blacks"
SUMMERS, W., illustrator. Lewis & Co's Selection of their Comic Black Jokes from the Designs of the Most Eminent Artists. Book, No. 1 (the number 1 in pencil). London: Published by Lewis & Co., [ca. 1834].
Oblong quarto (10 7/8 x 14 1/2 inches; 276 x 368 mm.). Lithographed title-page (wrapper) and Six (of twenty) superb lithographs (highlighted plates 7, 14, 15, 16, 17 & 18) by W. Summers, engraved by G. Hunt.
Publisher's printed blue stitched wrappers, spine worn. A few small short marginal tears, otherwise near fine.
This is the first part with just six of the twenty plates from Tregear's Black Jokes, being a series of laughable caricatures on the march of manners amongst the blacks. Twenty plates. London: Published by G.S. Tregear, at his Humorous and Sporting Print Shop, Cheapside, 1834.
Tregear’s Black Jokes were series of prints issued by the London engraver and print-seller Gabriel Shire Tregear. In their style and subject matter, they are an adaptation of Edward W. Clay’s earlier lithographic series Life in Philadelphia (1828-30), which sought to lampoon and ridicule the social pretensions of black Philadelphians though a number of exaggerated situations and compositions. Edward Clay had been inspired by George & Robert Cruikshank's Life in London, a copy of which he saw while on a trip to England. Tregear followed this format, producing vivid hand-colored aquatints from Hunt’s engravings of W. Summers’ original caricatures that far exceed Clay’s in their technical accomplishment. The series relies heavily on its humor being drawn from the incongruity of placing Africans in overtly European social contexts. The ‘joke’ is continued with the extensive use of patois, deepening the sense of social and racial disparity.
Exceptionally Rare: According to OCLC there is just one complete copy in libraries and institutions worldwide: Harvard University, Houghton Library (MA, US).
In 2019 we sold a complete colored copy to a private collection. We have never seen these plates uncolored before.
The only complete copy to have appeared at auction (at least since 1930) "worn & stained" was at (Sotheby's, London (July 26, 1984 - lot 427 £1,250 + auctioneers premium).
An incomplete copy (lacking the title-page and the last eight plates was sold at Swann Galleries in New York, April 16, 1998 - lot 183 $3,400 + auctioneers premium).
Gabriel Shear Tregear (1802-1841) also known as Gabriel Shire Tregear, was an English publisher of caricatures and prints. He was married to Ann McLean, the sister of print-seller and publisher Thomas McLean. Active from the late 1820s until his death, he operated his "Humorous and Sporting Print Shop" from quarters near today's 123 Cheapside, London. His shop was renowned, and later infamous, for the multitude of caricatures and prints filling its windows. He was forced to reduce the number of displayed items after a child was accidently struck by a passing wagon due to the size of the gathered crowd near the shop. Artists and caricaturists published by Tregear included a member of the Cruikshank family of caricaturists, Isaac Robert Cruikshank. Tregear published many series, of which Flights of Humour appears to be the longest, running to 95 prints or more. They are generally undated. The "Rum Jokes" series ran to at least 43 prints, and cover hunting, shooting, and fishing, plus racing events, skating, billiards and the building trade. His "Black Jokes" were described in an advertisement as "being a Series of Laughable Caricatures on the March of Manners Amongst the Blacks."
• "No. 1: The Promenade"
• "No. 2: The Lady Patroness/of/Alblacks"
• "No. 3: Marriage ala Mode"
• "No. 4: The Christening"
• "No. 5: Venus and Adonis"
• "No. 6: The Route"
• "No. 7: The Card Party/They Are Certainly Black Legs"
• "No. 8: The Breaking Up"
• "No. 9: Othello/Desdemona Asleep"
• "No. 10: The Concert"
• "No. 11: Miss White's birth-day, Party"
• "No. 12: The Lubbers Quarrel"
• "No. 13: Blackberrying"
• "No. 14: Don Juan and Zerline"
• "No. 15: Cinderella and the Black Prince"
• "No. 16: The Portrait"
• "No. 17: The First Lesson"
• "No. 18: The Advertisement"
• "No. 19: The Wedding Feast."
• "No. 20: The Elopement"
Abbey, Life 322.