PICTORIAL DOCUMENTATION OF THE BRITISH NAVY’S DEFEAT OF NAPOLEON: THE NAVAL ACHIEVEMENTS OF GREAT BRITAIN, 1793-1817, WITH 55 SPLENDID LARGE HAND-COLORED FOLIO AQUATINTS
JENKINS, James. The Naval Achievements of Great Britain, from the Year 1793 to 1817. London: J. Jenkins, . Folio (11 by 14 inches), contemporary full olive straight-grain morocco-gilt sympathetically rebacked, all edges gilt. $21,000.
First edition, first issue, of this dramatically illustrated record of British naval action during the Napoleonic Wars, with vignette title page and 55 vividly hand-colored aquatints of battle scenes by Thomas Sutherland after drawings by William Heath. A beautiful production in attractive contemporary morocco-gilt.
"As a record of naval events spanning a period of over 20 years Jenkins' Naval Achievements has no precedent. At no time prior to 1817 had a publisher attempted such a complete volume of documentary naval prints. It is the quality of the accuracy which makes Jenkins so valuable above all" (Roger Quarm, National Maritime Museum). Jenkins' work "is worthy of its theme; nor could one desire a finer record of heroic deeds" (Prideaux, 224). Scenes include "The Destruction of the French Fleet at Toulon, Dec. 18th 1793," "Lord Howe's Victory," "Battle of the Nile" (two plates), "Battle of Trafalgar" (three plates) and "Bombardment of Algiers." Each plate is accompanied by text describing the action, often with lists of ships captured or sunk, and excerpts from contemporary bulletins, dispatches, letters and speeches. "It is becoming increasingly uncommon" (Tooley). The aquatint engraver Thomas Sutherland was known for his sporting prints of horses, coaches and hunting scenes after Henry Alken and others. The plates for Jenkins' Naval Achievements were reprinted several times: this first-issue copy bears watermarks of "Whatman 1811," "Whatman 1812" and "Whatman 1816" on both text and plates, and the vignette title page is uncolored (it was colored in later issues). Without portraits of Nelson and Lord St. Vincent, as often—"the work is complete without them" (Tooley). Without list of subscribers. Without the uncolored etching, giving a key to the ships present on two of the colored plates, "Bombardment of Algiers" and "Battle of Trafalgar." All hand-colored plates present. Tooley 282. Abbey, Life 337. Prideaux, 341.
One plate with marginal repairs, another with light marginal wear; plates generally quite clean, with vivid hand-coloring. Light rubbing to joints and corners. A nicely restored copy in extremely good condition.