Elegant Extracts


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Elegant Extracts


(FORE-EDGE PAINTING) (EDWARDS OF HALIFAX) [KNOX, Vicesimus]. Elegant Extracts: from the Most Eminent Prose Writers; Elegant Epistles: from the Most Eminent Epistolary Writers; Elegant Extracts: from the Most Eminent British Poets. London: John Sharpe and R. Jennings, circa 1810. Eighteen volumes. 16mo, contemporary full straight-grained beige morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated boards and spines, raised bands, black morocco spine labels, all edges gilt. Housed in custom morocco-covered wooden cabinet (measuring 7 by 18 inches).

Early 19th century editions, elegantly bound by Edwards of Halifax, with 18 charming fore-edge paintings. From the important fore-edge painting collection of celebrated bibliophile Estelle Doheny, with her morocco-gilt bookplates; also with the bookplates of collector Dorothy Jayne Pedrini Shea. Housed in a handsome morocco-covered wooden cabinet with glass door.

These volumes of “much esteemed selections” (Lowndes, 770) collected by Vicesimus Knox— “a good scholar, an impressive preacher and a popular and voluminous writer” (DNB)—are uniformly and handsomely bound in contemporary full straight-grained morocco gilt with lyre centerpieces to each board. Weber attributes the 18 fore-edge paintings (and therefore the bindings) to Thomas Edwards of Halifax, noting his “success in catering to the interests and tastes of pilgrims to literary shrines…” The paintings depict Selborne; Eton from the River; Lichfield; Berkhamstead; East Derham; Stratford-on-Avon; Strawberry Hill; Steele’s Cottage; Haverstock Hill; Middle Temple Hall; Pope’s Villa at Twickenham; Richmond Bridge; Charlecote; Temple Bar; Stoke Poges Church; St. Giles Church, Cripplegate; Aldeburgh; Stoke Poges Churchyard; and Alloway Kirk. Lichfield is the birthplace of Samuel Johnson; Berkhamsted is William Cowper’s birthplace, and East Derham is his burial place. Aldeburgh is George Crabbe’s birthplace. Stoke Poges Churchyard is home to a memorial to Thomas Gray. “In the neo-classical period of the late 18th century, Edwards of Halifax perfected the technique of fore-edge painting” (Weber, John T. Beer, xiv). First published in 1783, “the ‘Elegant Extracts,’ both in prose and verse, and the ‘Elegant Epistles’ were frequently reprinted together; an edition [in 18 small volumes, as here] was published by Sharpe in 1810” (DNB). Each volume with additional engraved vignette title page. Housed in modern cabinet-like morocco folding case with three tiers and window pane. Weber I:86. See Graesse 2:538. Gift inscriptions (Mary E. Paterson). Bookplate of noted book collector Estelle Doheny. Starting in 1926, Doheny, wife of pioneering California oil developer Edward Doheny, “turned her casual attraction for books into a serious collecting passion. First she was drawn to examples of the delicate art of fore-edge painting”—as witnessed by these volumes. “This collection grew to be one of the most important in the world.” Doheny eventually expanded her collecting foci: “With innate good taste, Doheny formed one of the most impressive rare book and manuscript libraries in the United States” (Dickinson, 95). Also with bookplates of California collector and philanthropist Dorothy Jayne Pedrini Shea.

Light foxing to additional engraved title pages. Occasional light rubbing to joints;a few inner hinges split or cracked; a few covers lightly soiled; gilt generally bright. A fine set, elegantly bound and handsomely presented, with exceptionally distinguished provenance.

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