Costume of the Russian Empire, The
London: Printed for W. Miller, 1803. Item #05458
First Issue of William Alexander's Costume of the Russian Empire
In a Spectacular Neoclassical Binding in the Style of Staggemeier & Welcher
[ALEXANDER, William]. The Costume of the Russian Empire, illustrated by a series of seventy-three engravings. With descriptions in English and French. London: Printed for W. Miller, 1803.
First edition, first issue with text and plates watermarked '1796'.
Folio (13 3/8 x 10 1/8 inches; 340 x 257 mm.). [xviii], 73 leaves of text. Text printed in English and French. Seventy-three hand colored stipple-engravings, all with their original tissue-guards. Plates, text and tissue-guards watermarked "W. Elgar 1796". A few plates with very light and minor marginal discoloration, otherwise fine. The hand coloring bright and fresh.
Full contemporary red straight-grain morocco in the Neoclassical style similar to that of Staggemeier & Welcher.
Covers with a Greek key roll border surrounding a wide inlaid black morocco border decoratively tooled in gilt, in turn surrounding a gilt 'chain' pattern. Spine with five 'double' raised bands, decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments. The third panel has a small oval inlaid black morocco crest with a bull's head and an arrow and the motto in gilt 'Prodesse Quam Conspici' (To accomplish without being conspicuous). Decorative gilt edges and turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges stained red, blue silk marker.
A remarkable binding in superlative condition from the library of Cecil Bisshopp, 12th Baron Zouche.
Cecil Bisshopp (1752-1828), 12th Baron Zouche, FRS was a Member of Parliament for New Shoreham who afterwards became the 12th Baron Zouche.
"In the two former works of a similar nature to the present, - the Costume of Turkey, and the Costume of China, - the utility and advantage of such publications have been sufficiently dilated upon; and the approbation with which they have been honoured has evinced, that the opinion, the Publisher had formed of their value, was not ill-founded. This present work possesses all the advantages, which the former ones embraced, and has the further merit of rather a more systematic arrangement. The Russian empire is of an extent unknown to other modern nations, and hardly equalled by that of the Romans in the summit of their power. It embraces within its limits, nations the most various, with countries and climates the most opposite… The authenticity of the present work is undoubted, being in fact copied from a series of engravings begun at Petersburg in 1776, and finished in 1779… The descriptions to the plates have been derived from the most authentic sources, more particularly from Professor Müller's "Description de toutes les Nations de l'Empire de Russie -- Voyage en Sibérie, par D'Auteroche -- Description de Kamtshatka, par M. Kracheninnikow --Plescheëf's Survey of the Russian Empire -- Pallas's Travels through the Southern Parts of Russia -- Saür's Account of Commodore Billing's Expedition to the Northern Parts of Russia," &c. &c. as well as from information procured from several gentlemen, who have been resident for some time in different parts of that empire." (Preface).
"The fourth in the series of costume books issued by William Miller. The plates for this book are closely copied, but somewhat enlarged, from a book by J.G. Georgi published by Carl Wilhelm Müller in St. Petersburg, four volumes, 4to, 1776-80, under the patronage of the Empress. The text to this English edition is said to be by William Alexander." Abbey)
Abbey, Travel, 244; Colas, Hiler & Lipperheide only mentioning the later edition of 1814.