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CHRISTMAS - VIZETELLY, Henry (printer).

Christmas with the Poets:

A Collection of Songs, Carols, and Descriptive Verses, Relating to the Festival of Christmas, From the Anglo-Norman Period to the Present Time. Embellished with Fifty Tinted Illustrations by Birket Foster, and with Initial Letters and Other Ornaments.

London: David Bogue, 1851 Stock Code: 145978
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First edition, in the attractive publisher's gift binding, of this Christmas treasury. "In 1851 Vizetelly printed, and Bogue published, a notable gift book, Christmas with the Poets, which, it has been suggested, 'must have contributed considerably to the popular revival of the 'Old Christmas' atmosphere'" (Ruari McLean, "Victorian Book Design and Colour Printing", 1963, p. 128).

The University of Glasgow chose their copy of the second edition of Christmas with the Poets for their December 2004 "Book of the Month" online entry, and noted that "according to Vizetelley, it was honoured by the Trustees of the British Museum in being chosen for display in the Great Exhibition of 1851 as an example of contemporary book illustration and printing".

Although gathering poems from a span of several hundred years, Christmas with the Poets "is inevitably a product of Victorian taste and fashion" (Glasgow). The enthusiasm for a return to homely, traditional, and festive family celebrations, was encouraged by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. As a result, "the aspiring middle classes fuelled a new market for Christmas publications" (ibid.) from the 1840s. Although profiting from it, the fad was not to Vizetelli's taste as expressed in his introduction on p. 141 "the picturesque ceremonies and rude festivities that distinguished the Christmas of bygone times have passed away, and we can regard the loss of them without regret. We are too thankful to have lighted upon a more civilized age... We conceive that Queen Victoria can celebrate her Christmas with her accustomed gracious hospitality, without its being necessary for the Lord Chamberlain to assume the character, and perform all the absurdities, of a Lord of Misrule".

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Large octavo. Publisher's gift binding in quarter morocco colour pictorial varnished boards, spine and boards lettered in gilt, later blue-grey endpapers, all edges gilt.


Chromolithographic title and numerous tinted lithographs by Birket Foster, each page printed within decorative gilt border, decorative opening initials and borders.


20th-century bookplate to front pastedown. Light wear to extremities, varnish crackling with occasional small loss, the binding otherwise sound, endpapers renewed, occasional foxing to contents, a couple of edge-splits, else internally fresh; a very good copy.


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