The Microcosm of London; or London in Miniature
London: 1808-1810. Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin. First Edition. In three volumes with 104 brilliantly-colored acquaint plates. Large 4to; 13 x 10 7/16 in. (330 x 267mm). Illustrated woodcut titles, half-titles, and engraved dedication page to the Prince of Wales in each volume, as well as a list of illustrations for binder plate positioning.Vol. 1 , iv, , 231; Vol. 2 , vi, 239; Vol. 3 , iv, 280,  index and errata. All visible watermarks are J.Watham between 1806 and 1808; offsetting from plates as usual and foxing on dedication page; several text quires toned. Full period diced Russia binding, elaborately gilt, by Baker —binder's ticket tipped in to front free endpaper; gilt titles and decorations on spines; gilt rules and tooling on edges; marbled endpapers and all edges marbled.
From the Collection of Victor Niederhoffer.
[Abbey Scenery 212; Tooley 7; Prideaux pp. 121 – 124 ].
Tooley points as follows: First state of Dedication and wood-engraved title leaves; first state of Contents leaf in first volume; second state of text, "
This is Rowlandson's first and most famous color-plate book, rare to find in an early state as so many copies were broken up to sell the individual images. It is also one of the most interesting and valuable works by Rudolph Ackermann (1764 – 1834) who is credited with establishing art lithography in England. The book was issued in 26 monthly parts and continued to be published as late as 1835. Our copy has the second state of the text as Tooley points out (errata uncorrected, with the exception two instances). Our copy has 7 of the 12 plates Tooley identifies as "key plates" in their first "luminescent" state. The plates were engraved after drawings by Thomas Rowlandson (1757 – 1827) and Augustus Pugin (1812 – 1852).
"The Microcosm of London is one of the great color-plate books, and a carefully selected copy should form the cornerstone of any collection of books on this subject. The plates present an unrivaled picture of London in the early 19th century, of historic value, as many of the buildings no longer exist." [Tooley 7].
"Original impressions of these splendid plates have a luminous quality entirely absent from later printings." [Abbey Scenery 212].
"The book is a perfect treasure-house of scenes, described with pen and brush, from the London of a century ago, the work of Rowlandson and Pugin being equally admirable. It depicts the time of transition from the old to the new, from the formal manners of the eighteenth century to the incoming of modern life and the freedom, not to say licence, of the reign of George IV." [Prideaux, S. T. Aquatint Engraving; A Chapter in the History of Book llustration. London, Duckworth & Co., 1909. p.123].
RUDOLPH ACKERMANN (1764 – 1834) was an German-born bookseller, inventor, lithographer, publisher and businessman. He moved to Paris at a young age and settled in London at 23. In 1795 he established a print-shop and drawing-school on the Strand, very close to the Royal Academy of Arts and his business quickly expanded and flourished. As a publisher Ackermann was both creative and efficient, bringing to the commercial production of color plate books innovative techniques and an uncompromising attention to detail which ensured uniform high quality (ODNB). He was also an innovator in carriage design and was an early adopter and promoter of gas lighting.
This set is from the collection of Victor NIEDERHOFFER (b. 1943) the American hedge fund manager, champion squash player, best-selling author and statistician, and avid collector of art, autographs, and books.
Condition: Near Fine.
Item number: 419