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SHAW, Henry.

Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages.

London: William Pickering, 1843 Stock Code: 129144
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Large paper copy

First edition in book form following issue in parts in 1840, this a large paper copy, with the plates and initials enhanced by gilt, originally issued at 18, compared to 7 7s for the regular paper copies, which did not have the gilt embellishment.

An exceptional, highly regarded book: McLean states that "it has considerable claim to be called the most handsome book produced in the whole of the nineteenth century" (McLean, Victorian Book Design and Colour Printing, p. 66).

The success of the antiquary Henry Shaw's (1800-1873) works on medieval art was a result of the Victorian obsession with the mediaeval period, an obsession which Shaw's works helped to fuel; "his reproductions of medieval and Renaissance artefacts and manuscripts established standards of finish, colour, and form that the originals themselves had to match to satisfy Victorian taste" (ODNB).

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2 volumes, folio. Original green quarter cloth, rebacked with original spine laid down, spine lettered in gilt, red paper sides.


With 94 hand-coloured plates and additional colour illustrations in text, some with gilt finishing, woodcut illustrations throughout.


Old catalogue description from 1998 pasted to front endpaper. Wear to spine and extremities, rubbing and light staining to sides, red cloth strengthening strips to hinges, foxed. A very good copy.


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Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

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