The Naval Achievements of Great Britain. From the Year 1793 to 1817.London : for J. Jenkins by L. Harrison, [after 1817] Stock Code: 115370
First edition, early issue, of this magnificent publication, the apogee of the coloured aquatint, illustrating the high-water mark of Britain's maritime hegemony. "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" (Roger Quarm, curator of pictures at the National Maritime Museum, 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 leaves in this copy are watermarked "Whatman 1812" or "Whatman 1816", as in the first issue; the plates are undated but bear the watermark H S & S, seemingly from the 1820s. "The book was reprinted as late as 1840, copies having been seen with watermarks of the date" (Abbey). The very earliest issues can be identified by the title-page vignette remaining uncoloured; otherwise, the key consideration for collectors is the quality of the colouring, which is extremely good in the present copy.
Folio (358 x 285 mm). Twentieth-century blue crushed morocco by Birdsall, title gilt to spine, raised bands, double gilt ruled panels to the compartments, attractive concentric gilt panels to the boards with large laurel wreath cornerpieces, beaded edge-roll, top edge gilt, others uncut, wide-turn-ins with gilt rolls and laurel wreath cornerpieces, marbled endpapers.
Engraved title page with hand-coloured vignette, 55 hand-coloured aquatint plates by Sutherland, Jeakes and Bailey after Whitcombe, all with wove-paper guards, 2 uncoloured etched plans of the Bombardment of Algiers and Battle of Trafalgar.
Tips and board-edges lightly rubbed, a few very light markings to rear board, text-leaves slightly toned, a little pale foxing to title, a few trivial spots to text and to margins of a very small number of plates, the images spared, offsetting to guards, sig. X and leaf the containing the etched plans repaired in fore margins. An excellent copy with bright and vivid plates.
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