London: Bradbury, Agnew, & Co., N.D. . John Leech. Bradbury & Agnew Edition Unspecified. Cloth (& wrappers). Thick 8vo, red decorative cloth with gilt-stamped regal figures on the spine and gilt-embossed Clio and a young British lion on front cover, profusely and engaging illustrated by John Leech with 20 fabulous colored engravings and 200 (or more) in-text often humorous woodcuts and engravings on steel distributed through eight amusing books, most with tissue guards, all edges gilt, xviii + Books I-IV = 320pp. & Books V-VIII = 304pp., or 642 pages overall plus the 20 splendid, colorful and amusing plates.
(In addition, so that the reader may enjoy an example of the original publication of this highly enjoyable volume as it appeared in Punch, where Leech was a regular, we offer in green wrappers, one part only that is engraved in black with an illustration and an engraved colored frontispiece by John Leech; London: Punch Ofice, First Edition No.1, July, 1846, 32 pages.). Fine (& Very Good for the "Part") / None. Item #448
Gilbert A'Beckett (1811-55) and John Leech (1817-1864) were among early Punch contributors--Leech from 1841 until his death. Both also became associates of Charles Dickens, who admired their humorous works.
A'Beckett dramatized a few of Dickens' short stories in collaboration with Mark Lemon. Leech submitted illustrations for Pickwick Papers after illustrator Robert Seymour died in 1836, though these were not selected. Thereafter, Leech did contribute four charming plates to A Christmas Carol (1843).
Prepared near the height of the Victorian age, The Comic History of England (1846, 1847-48) became one of Leech's and A'Beckett's great collaborative successes and went through numerous editions. The Comic History combined the essential episodes of English history with wonderful literary and illustrative wit. As stated in the Preface, Gilbert A'Beckett's intention was to "blend amusement with instruction."
The episodes originally appeared in Punch in 1846-1847 issued in wrappers also known as"Parts." These resemble less elaborate examples of those in which Dickens' and other Victorian novels often first appeared. The majority of such Parts were rebound--or reprinted--as in the excellent gilt-decorated red cloth octavo we offer.
At roughtly the same time that Bradbury & Evans published The Comic History of England, they also published The Comic History of Rome in 1847-48, 1850/1851, (& 1870). The two histories are sometimes bound up together.
The Comic History of England consists of eight books: Book I - The Invasion by Julius Caesar; Book II The Period From the Norman Conquest to the Death of King John; Book III - The Period from the Accession of Henry the Third to the End of the Reign of Richard the Second, A.D. 1216-1399; Book IV - The Period from the Accession of Henry IV to the end of the Reign of Richard III A.D. 1399-1485; Book V - From the Accession of Henry the Seventh to the End of the Reign of Elizabeth; Book VI - From the Period of the Accession of James I to the Restoration of Charles II; Book VII - The Period From the Restoration of Charles II to the Revolution; Book VIII - The Period From the Revolution to the Accession of George III.
In this exceptional condition: internally tight and without foxing as well as with Leech's bright colorful plates and crisp black and white woodcuts as well as steel engravings; externally near Fine, with one small smudge on the front cover and a trifling bit of wear on the cloth, this copy of The Comic History of England is a very attractive and engaging volume.
For the reader's Extra Enjoyment, we include with our Fine Cloth First Edition, a single "Part" of the first appearance in Punch of this comic masterpiece.
At least in these "Colonies," few "Parts" have survived, though they may repose in a few backrooms of ancient bookshops in Great Britain. Our wrappered Part has minimal foxing and distress, though there is a tiny nick in the upper rcover and slight waterstaining that curiously affects the top of several pages of text but NOT Leech's fine engravings.