[WALMSLEY, Edward]

Physiognomical Portraits

London: Published for the Proprietor and sold by John Major et al. Printed by John Johnson. 1821-23.

First issue Subscriber's (sic) Copy. Proofs No 99. In ten parts as originally issued. Printed on India paper. On the verso of the front free endpaper is the statement "Impressions of the Physiognomical Portraits cannot be considered as Proofs, unless they be worked upon paper having a Water-mark corresponding with the following figure: EW1821 (with a shield between the two letters)". Which these have. 305x230mm. Unpaginated. Each portrait (plate 176x129mm, image 66x47mm) is followed by two leaves with a short biographical note in English and French. One hundred famous men are featured. In the last four volumes, a few of the portraits and biographies appear in different volumes from the ones intended but, as explained in the notes to each volume, this is where the work has not been completed in time. But all the engraved portraits and biographies are present together with the cancels and the additional engravings (a total of 105 plates all with tissue guards) and the frontispiece portrait of King George IV "engraven upon a silver plate". Also present are the introductory "Address" the two engraved and letterpress title pages (dated 1824), and the two lists of portraits in alphabetical order by subject matter. It is as a two-volume set with the 1824 publication date and the portraits in alphabetical order that this work is almost always found: indeed, this copy is the only ten-part set to appear in the auction records. We are also unable to trace any record of this set in parts in Worldcat and it appears to be unrecorded at the BL.
Each volume is bound in contemporary limp red morocco, black morocco label lettered in gilt to upper cover of each volume. Save for volumes 3, 4 and 7, spines are worn, some torn and with varying degrees of loss. Covers a little soiled and stained. Title page to part seven is detached and there is occasional foxing and staining to the (wide) margins of the portraits (not affecting the images) but overall a very nice, very rare, set with the plates in excellent condition.

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