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Dr. Goldsmith's Celebrated Elegy on that Glory of Her Sex, Mrs. Mary Blaize.

London: J. Harris, 1808 Stock Code: 144267
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The Doheny copy

First juvenile and first separate edition of Goldsmith's Elegy on Mary Blaize, in the original paper wrappers in very nice condition; the Estelle Doheny copy, with her book label.

Goldsmith's poem was first printed in The Bee in 1759, and is composed of seven quatrains, each with the final line a humorous twist on the preceding three lines. "Half a century after the first appearance... an astute publisher of books for the young, John Harris, perceived its delightful possibilities as a children's book" (Morgan Library catalogue). It was published as part of the "Harris's Cabinet" series, small illustrated books for children that were designed for entertainment rather than instruction. Such publications helped to liberate children's books from the didactic and moralizing volumes of the previous century.

Very scarce, with Library Hub locating copies in the British Library and Victoria and Albert Museum only, although slightly better represented in the US with OCLC listing ten locations. Auction results only show a handful of copies, and these often with restoration, unlike the present example. Doheny had a large collection of early children's books; this copy was sold in the sale of her collection at Christie's New York, 21 February 1989, lot 1973.

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Sextodecimo, engraved throughout, 13 leaves; original drab paper wrappers, with printed paper series label to front wrapper with the publisher's manuscript addition "Blaize". Housed in a custom full morocco book-form solander case, Estelle Doheny's red morocco book label to inner lid.


Engraved title, and 12 hand-coloured copperplate illustrations with captions; based on water colours probably commissioned by Harris from William Mulready.


Offsetting from Doheny's book label to front wrapper, minor wax residue to rear wrapper, offsetting from plates, yet notwithstanding an exceptionally well-preserved copy.


Morgan Library 161; Osborne p. 69.


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