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The Poetical Works
London: Printed for J. Johnson, W. J. and J. Richardson, R. Baldwin [& 18 others in London],, 1808. From the text of the Rev. Henry John Todd. With a critical essay by J. Aikin. 4 volumes, duodecimo in half-sheets (158 x 96 mm). Contemporary red marbled calf (unsigned but attributed by Comte de Caumont), decorative gilt smooth spines with scrolling floriate motif head and tail, gilt banding, twin black labels, sides with two-line gilt border enclosing scrolling floriate roll tool border, marbled edges and endpapers, gilt scrolling floriate roll tool on turn-ins. Engraved portrait frontispiece of Milton by Cromek and 20 plates by Neagle, Cooke, Thomson and others after Stephen Rigaud. Armorial bookplates of Sarah Phillott (born Stanton Prior, Somerset, 1804; died Axbridge, Somerset, 1880; described in censuses as "of independent means" and "landed proprietor" - she was certainly a discerning collector as a number of books in similarly fine bindings do appear in commerce); 20th-century bookplate (volume I) of Robert Hayhurst, Lancashire retail chemist and bibliophile, a discriminating collector of 18th-century literature in well-preserved contemporary bindings. Spines lightly sunned, minor rubbing to extremities, a touch of foxing in places. A lovely set. Second Rigaud edition, his illustrations first paired with Newton's version of the text in 1801; Todd's edition (also 1801) "remained the standard edition for fifty years" (ODNB). Stephen Rigaud's work is said to have influenced Blake's interpretation: "it seems likely that by the time he came to make his Paradise Lost designs Blake was already acquainted with those of Stephen Rigaud… [whose] designs are related in a number of ways to Blake's in terms of imaginative suggestion" (Stephen C. Behrendt, The Moment of Explosion: Blake and the Illustration of Milton, 1985, p. 122). This is not true of all the plates, but some have a distinctive Blakean power. A penciled note describes this delightfully bound set as being from the atelier of Auguste-Marie, Comte de Caumont (1743–1839), a descendent of a landed Normandy family who arrived in London from revolutionary France around 1790. It is generally accepted that de Caumont was not himself a binder, but rather confined his activities to finding patrons, keeping the accounts and overseeing the running of the workshop. In April 1814 de Caumont returned to France with Louis XVIII and apparently abandoned bookbinding. "In England... he is considered a very great binder, in an age when English bookbinding was temporarily at a high level, and actually far ahead of contemporary French binding" (Ramsden, French Bookbinders 1789-1848, p. 49). While in London he hired some of the leading binders of the day, including Cordavau, Hering, and Kalthoeber, the latter considered perhaps the finest craftsman of the period, but "because de Caumont employed so many different finishers it is difficult to attribute a distinctive style to his bindery" (Maggs, Bookbinding in the British Isles, II 264). A particularly pretty set.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2017-09-13           Check availability:      Biblio    

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