ALKEN, Henry Thomas (1785-1851)
A Collection of Sporting and Humourous Designs, Comprising a Variety of Entertaining Works ... Illustrative of the Manners, Customs, Sports and Pastimes of England.
London: Thomas M'Lean, 1824. 3 volumes, folio. 21 1/4 x 14 1/4 inches. 329 exquisitely hand coloured aquatint plates or soft-ground etchings by Henry Alken (various sizes, 4 folding), all mounted or inlaid within gilt-ruled borders, as issued, and interleaved throughout, general title to each volume, some section titles.
Publisher's contemporary green straight grain morocco, ornately gilt with a pictorial sporting motif to covers signed "Knights sc" in gilt, within a diamond border stamped in blind and gilt. Each volume housed in a cloth slipcase.
An exquisitely hand-coloured set of this very rare collection of Alken's major works. Included in the compilation are many important plates of shooting, coaching, racing, bull-baiting, owling, and hawking all finely hand-coloured. This example with more plates than any other example known.
An remarkable copy that collects Alken's most important work in three volumes from the publisher M'Lean with more plates included than any recorded known example. "This binding covers one of the collections of plates by Alken which were issued by McLean in 1824; they have nearly all been broken up and are extremely scarce. See de Ricci, The Book Collector's Guide, Philadelphia and New York, 1921, p.16 [...] The binding is very typical of the period, its chief interest consisting in the central ornament composed of sporting paraphernalia and signed 'Knights sc'. The engraver is mentioned in an advertisement of Gosden's Silver Buttons as a partner with Colnaghi and Molteno. The ornament is usually found on copies of Aiken's National Sports of Great Britain, 1820, 1821, or 1823" -- G.D. Hobson Each volume has a separate title page. The set comprises: Volume 1: Printed title, dated 1821. Contents: Fox-hunting, 1 plate; Shooting, 4 plates (folding); Coaching, 2 plates; British Sports, colored title and 50 plates; Moments of Fancy, colored title and 13 plates. Volume 2: Printed title. Contents: Fox-hunting, 2 plates; Symptoms of Being Amused, colored title and set of 41 plates; Involuntary Thoughts, 8 plates; Hunting, or Six Hours Sport, printed title and set of 6 plates; Shooting, or One Day's Sport of Three Real Good Ones, printed title and set of 6 plates; 6 miscellaneous plates; Tutor's Assistant, 6 plates; Specimens of Riding Near London, set of 18 plates; Comparative Meltonians, 6 plates; 12 miscellaneous plates. Volume 3: Printed title. Contents: Fox-hunting, 1 plate, Illustrations to Popular Songs, printed title, colored title, and set of 43 plates; Scraps from the Sketch Book of Henry Alken, printed title and 42 plates; 6 additional plates including Earth Stopper, Game Keepers, Huntsman & Whipper In, Post Lads, Poachers, and Fox Hunter; Illustrations to Byron, 3 plates; National Sports, 30 plates; A Touch at the Fine Arts, set of 12 plates; Scenes in the Life of Master George, 11 plates.
G.D. Hobson, English Bindings in the Library of J.R. Abbey, 1940, 113, describing a similar set bound in red straight-grained morocco; de Ricci, The Book Collector's Guide, p.16 (3 sets known).