London: Richard Bentley, 1840 & 1842. Two volumes. ,v,,338,pp. with inserted extra-engraved title (a proof before letters), numbered colophon leaf, engraved title, and six etched plates; vii,,288pp. with engraved title and seven etched plates. Octavo. Full claret crushed levant, gilt extra, a.e.g., by Riviere, with the side panels and spine of the original binding of the first volume bound at the end. Plates and illustrations by Leech, Cruikshank and Buss. Bindings a bit darkened and slightly discolored at extremities, light rubbing to joints, some foxing to the prelims of the first volume, with an old tide-mark in the lower gutter areas of the plates; otherwise, a very good set. With the armorial bookplate of Sir David Lionel Salomons (1851-1925) in each volume, and a tipped-in bookseller's description in the first volume. Item #WRCLIT52028
The very rare private issue of the first two volumes of Barham's most successful work, specially printed on heavier cream-toned paper, with the special limitation leaf, numbered and signed by Richard Bentley in the first volume. This is copy is denoted copy #1 in ink, but a trace of an erasure suggests it may have been denoted #12, and then corrected at some point. The ownership signature of the author's son, R.H.D. Barham, who edited the third volume in 1847, appears on the half-title of the second volume. No private issue of the third volume was prepared. The rather complex bibliography of this private issue, as well as that of the public issue, is discussed at length by Sadleir in the context of his entries for the copies in his collection, pp. 27-29. He owned copy #8 (the publisher's copy) of the private edition of the first volume, but lacked the second volume in this form. He had knowledge of only two other copies, Barham's own copy (later Owen Young's) at the NYPL, and a catalogue reference to a copy from the collection of D. Phoenix Ingraham, sold in "February 1836 [sic, i.e. 1936]." This copy of the first volume, like Sadleir's and the others, has on p. 236 the incomplete printing of "The Franklyn's Dogge." Sadleir's analysis suggested to him the following probable sequence: a) the private edition, b) copies of the public edition with p.236 in the same form as it appears in the private edition, c) copies of the public edition with p. 236 blank; and d) copies of the public edition with the complete new version of the text on p. 236.However, the set in hand raises a new question in regard to the form of the binding of the private edition in its original state. Sadleir's copy, like the copy he located at NYPL, was bound in "Full brown Russia," with the title, imprint and date on the spine, and the title on the upper board, and he describes that binding as "original." The binding described by Carter in reference to the twelve private copies is also in accord with Sadleir's description. However, the remnants of the binding preserved at the back of the present first volume are red moiré silk (as opposed to the brown cloth of the public edition), with the side panels and spine ornately blocked with a gilt design and the title within the gilt frame (the spine is rather worn, but legible). This readily suggests that only some of the twelve private copies may have been bound in leather, and others, or at least one, bound in this special silk cloth, gilt extra. Barham began writing the short pieces making up this series as contributions to his friend and classmate's BENTLEY'S MISCELLANY. The subject matter was "at first derived from the legendary lore of the author's ancestral locality in Kent, but soon [was] enriched by satires on the topics of the day and subjects of pure invention, or borrowed from history or the ‘Acta Sanctorum,’...The success of the ‘Legends’ was pronounced from the first, and when published collectively in 1840 they at once took the high place in humorous literature which they have ever since retained" - DNB. NCBEL III:365. SADLEIR 156a. TINKER 216 (public edition). Carter, BINDING VARIANTS, p.92.