KNIGHT’S OLD ENGLAND, SPLENDIDLY ILLUSTRATED WITH 24 FOLIO CHROMOLITHOGRAPHS AND THOUSANDS OF WOOD-ENGRAVINGS
(KNIGHT, Charles). Old England: a Pictorial Museum of Regal, Ecclesiastical, Baronial, Municipal and Popular Antiquities. London: Charles Knight, 1845. Two volumes. Folio (10 by 14 inches), contemporary full red velvet, olive morocco spine labels, endpapers and edges marbled. $1600.
First edition of this compendium of English antiquities, "regal, ecclesiastical, baronial, municipal and popular," richly illustrated with 24 full-page folio chromolithographs and upwards of two thousand wood engravings, in attractive bindings of red velvet.
The two dozen chromolithographs depict interior views of some of England's most famous churches, chapels, and royal halls. The thousands of wood-engravings depict a myriad of interiors, exteriors, and architectural details of English buildings, ruins, and monuments, as well as historical scenes, picturesque views, portraits, costumes, weapons and armor, material goods, tombs, inscriptions, coins, medals, and more, from the days of the Britons, the Romans, and the Anglo-Saxons on through the 19th century. Author and publisher Charles Knight issued a richly illustrated edition of Shakespeare's works from 1838-41, and published his Popular History of England from 1855-62. Old England occupies a middle ground between these two works, wherein Knight compiles a vast treasure trove of images and antiquities from throughout English history, a project undoubtedly begun while searching for material to illustrate his edition of Shakespeare, then expanded and cross-referenced while working on his Popular History. "In the 1840s… he had contributed as author as well as editor to such works as Old England and The Land we Live in, early illustrated examples of the tourist and heritage literature which is now a staple of British publishing" (ODNB).
Faint marginal dampstain to frontispiece and chromolithographic title page of Volume II, otherwise interiors clean and fine. Spines only mildly sunned. A near-fine copy in distinctive red velvet bindings.