KING, Charles William.
Antique Gems and Rings.
First and only edition of this attractive work on engraved gems. A fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, King (1818–1888), travelled to Italy in 1845 “where he resided at Rome and Florence (1845–50). He studied Italian language and literature, and collected antique gems, which he purchased at moderate prices. he later increased his collection by buying gems from Eastwood, a London dealer, and also at auction in London, where several important collections, including the Mertens-Schaafhausen (Praun), the Hertz, and the Uzielli were put on the market. By 1877 he owned 331 engraved stones … In 1878, when his eyesight was seriously failing, King sold his collection to John Taylor Johnston, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art at New York, who gave it to that institution in October 1881. A catalogue was printed in 1890, without alterations, from King’s own manuscript of 28 February 1878, with the title The Johnston Collection of Engraved Gems … [King’s] writings stimulated an interest in glyptics at the time and until the second half of the twentieth century remained the only works in English on a subject” (ODNB).
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2 volumes tall octavo. Original cream cloth, bevelled boards, title gilt to the spines, elaborate palmette panel gilt to the front boards, Greek seal centre tool, panel in blind to the lower board, dark brown surface-paper endpapers. 66 plates, 10 of them copperplates, numerous illustrations, as head- and tail-pieces, and to text. A little rubbed, and somewhat spotted, light browning throughout and some foxing, front, back and occasionally to the plates, overall a very good set, largely unopened.