Designs by Mr. R. Bentley, for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray [Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard]: ... Designs by Mr. R. Bentley, for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray [Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard]: ...

Designs by Mr. R. Bentley, for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray [Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard]

GRAY, Thomas (1716-1771)

Published by Printed for R. Dodsley, in Pall Mall, London, 1753
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Fine Editions Ltd (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

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Third State (or edition) of this "landmark in the history of English book-illustration." (Hazen) Imperial quarto ( cut to resemble a folio, for which it is often mistaken): [8]pp,35,[1]ff, with six full-page copper-engraved plates, 13 half-page head- and tail-vignettes, and 6 engraved initials, all by Johann Sebastian Muller and Charles Grignion after drawings by Richard Bentley. (Each poem has a frontispiece, headpiece, initial letter, and tailpiece. Poems printed and foliated on rectos only, 'Explanation of the prints' by Horace Walpole printed on both recto and verso). According to Hazen, "There are three distinct editions dated 1753, but since the wording on the title-page is identical in all three and all three have been sold as first editions, it seems easier to describe the editions and discriminate among them as if they were different states. . . . Discrimination between the other [second and third] editions dated 1753 is simple enough, but their order is not certainly established. . . . The third edition seems to be distinctly less common {calling copies of the first two editions "plentiful"]." Our copy is Hazen's "distinctly less common" third, with "Designs, &c." on half-title; no exclamation marks (though there are semicolons) in the rows of printer's flowers on the third and fourth pages of "Explanation of the prints"; and the letter "p" printed properly throughout p. 26. Elegantly bound in recent vellum over boards, flat spine lettered in blind, covers with decorative panel role in blind, marbled end papers. A crisp, fresh copy with fine, deep impressions of the plates, very wide margins and clear print throughout. A superb production (The Monthly Review for July, 1753, called it "one of the most elegant publications our country hath produced for some years past: whether we consider the beauty of the printing, the genius that appears in the designs for the cuts, or the masterly execution of most of the engravings."). Rothschild 1063. Hazen (Walpole) 42. Stokes, p. 43. Northup 178. Bland, p. 219. NCBEL II, 579. In 1750, after inadvertently permitting Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard to be pirated from a manuscript version he had circulated among friends, Walpole saw the authorized version through the press. He then persuaded Gray to allow publication of his remaining poems in an edition illustrated by Bentley. But Gray, who was famously modest, agreed only on condition that the book not be regarded as a collection of poems, and that "Designs" precede "Poems" in the title. Gray wrote to the publisher on 12 February 1753, "I desire it may be understood (which is the truth) that the Verses are only subordinate & explanatory to the Drawings ." The elegant rococo result was Designs by Mr. R. Bentley, for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray. According to Bland, "This exciting book . . . contains perhaps the first hint in book illustration of the Gothic Revival. . . ., the big engravings surrounded by curious borders reminiscent of the 'scatter borders' in fifteenth-century manuscripts." The six poems are: Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard; Ode on the Spring; Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes; Ode on a distant Prospect of Eton College; A Long Story, and Hymn to Adversit, the last two of which appear here for the first time. N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. Bookseller Inventory # BB1395

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Title: Designs by Mr. R. Bentley, for Six Poems by ...

Publisher: Printed for R. Dodsley, in Pall Mall, London

Publication Date: 1753

Binding: Vellum

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First Edition.

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