The Naval Achievements of Great Britain.
From the Year 1793 to 1817.London : printed for J. Jenkins, by L. Harrison, [after 1817] Stock Code: 102750
First edition, with later issue plates, of this magnificent publication. The battle scenes, after the distinguished marine artist Thomas Whitcombe, illustrating the high-water mark of Britain's maritime hegemony, represent the apogee of the coloured aquatint. The key consideration for collectors is the quality of the colouring, which is extremely good in the present copy.
As Roger Quarm, curator of pictures at the National Maritime Museum remarked: "as a record of naval events spanning a period of over twenty years it has no precedent. At no time prior to 1817 had a publisher attempted such a complete volume of documentary naval prints. It is the quality of accuracy which makes Jenkins so valuable" (quoted in the introduction to the 1998 facsimile edition). It was disappointingly slow to sell on its first issue in 1817, and Jenkins chose to issue copies as demand necessitated. The text in this copy is preponderantly watermarked "J. Whatman 1811", the plates "J. Whatman 1825". The very earliest issues can be identified by the title-page vignette remaining uncoloured.
Folio (346 x 276 mm). Late nineteenth-century navy blue half morocco, decorative gilt spine, sides and corners trimmed with paired gilt fillets, blue cloth sides, all edges gilt. Housed in a dark blue flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.
Engraved title page with hand-coloured vignette. 55 hand-coloured aquatint plates by Sutherland, Jeakes and Bailey after Thomas Whitcombe, 2 uncoloured etchings, plans of the Bombardment of Algiers and Battle of Trafalgar.
A handsome copy.
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