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(American Gift Book). The sacred wreath. Philadelphia: Thomas T. Ash, [1839 or 1840]. 4to (29 cm; 11.5"). [Approx. 66 ff.]; illus., 4 plts. $2,975.00
A multivariously fascinating and gorgeous American gift book. Following an illustrated title-page in sepia by Scottish engraver W.H. Lizars are numerous poems, quotations, short essays, and illustrations printed for the reader's enjoyment on heavy green, gray, and cream paper. Typically these sentiments are surrounded by ornately embossed frames, sometimes lavished as many as half a dozen or eight to a page, with other framed pages featuring a single significant flower, bird, or other image as an embossed illustration at center; e.g., a rose, a stork, a spray of heart's-ease, a child at prayer. => In this copy one flower — endearingly, the forget-me-not — has been daintily hand-colored. Also included are four full-page illustrations of Biblical scenes after Benjamin West and engraved by H. Moses.
This was clearly => meant to be an autograph and friendship album in addition to a gift book, as blank leaves, many with variously sized embossed frames ready for inscriptions, are bound throughout. The intention was fulfilled in the only reported library-held copy, at Yale, to which friends and family of Leicester A.Sawyer added signatures, notes, essays, and quotations in manuscript, before his leaving New Haven.
Binding: Hunter green embossed morocco, later spine with compartments containing blind-stamped wreaths and title lettered in gilt; original covers with single-ruled gilt borders and front one with title embraced by laurel fronds gilt in a blind-defined center circle. All else in blind on both covers: Clouds surround the central circle and sun rays burst from them in a wide radiance; an elegant and elaborate vine pattern incorporating flowers and grapes or berries provides a background; at center top is an eagle with a snake in its talons and at center bottom is a flower-bearing urn flanked left and right by gryphons. Endpapers are of cream mock moiré silk; all edges are gilt. => Binding plaque signed "Rock. London."
Provenance: Ink inscription on title-page, "Miss Richards from her friend C.W. Howard"; a later note has been added to a fly-leaf: "Given to Emily R. Haines from Margaret R. Tatnall August 1940, Rebound December 1940, Originally given to Mary Richards Butcher."
Searches of NUC, WorldCat, and COPAC locate only the one copy at Yale.
Binding not in Wolfe, From Gothic Windows to Peacocks. Book not in Thompson, American Literary Annuals & Gift Books, nor in Tepper, American Gift Books & Literary Annuals (Second edition), nor in Faxon (who identifies an 1839 publication by Orrin Rogers of Philadelphia bearing the same title but a totally different work). Bound as above, rebacked, rubbed with some loss of leather at corners and edges; light age-toning only with the occasional spot, one leaf with small hole, offsetting from printed illustrations (as usual). Inscriptions and instance of hand-coloring as noted. => A beautiful book to peruse for more than one reason. (37289) Please RESHELVE This.
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