SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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ALKEN, Henry Thomas.
A Cockney's Shooting Season in Suffolk.

The work tells the amusing tale of the new wealthy Londoner on a trip to the countryside and the constant gaffs he makes due to his lack of understanding of the country way of life and the danger he poses to himself and all those around him whilst in possession of a gun.

London: Published by Thomas M'Lean, 26 Haymarket. 1822.
Siltzer p. 51; Schwerdt I 12-3; Tooley 22; Abbey Life 384; Bobins II 754
London: Published by Thomas M'Lean, 26 Haymarket. 1822.

RARE. Folio (375 × 275 mm.) pp. 16; 6 hand-coloured aquatint plates; octave leaf of advertisements tipped in at before the first plate. Original buff wrappers, with black lettering, to front cover, back cover with advertisements. In modern cloth boards, with flaps and a brown silk tie, upper board with a red morocco title label with gilt lettering; The work records the humorous antics of Peter Pop, who having taken a fancy to shooting borrows a modern sporting gun from his father's pawnbroking shop and pulls together enough of a sporting costume to take a trip down to Suffolk to have some sport. The plates have this amateur misunderstanding all country ways of hunting. Henry Thomas Alken (1785-1851) was the dominant sporting artist of the early nineteenth century. After receiving his first lessons from his father, the boy was sent at an early age to J. T. Barber a painter of miniatures. Henry's first sporting prints were published in 1813, and he demonstrated his expertise in the book The Beauties and Defects in the Figure of the Horse Comparatively Delineated (1816). From then on, he delivered a long series of designs to the leading sporting print-sellers - S. and J. Fuller Thomas McLean and Rudolph Ackermann, among others. Alken was very well informed about horses and riding, and he appeared to be an insider among the wealthy young set who gathered at Melton Mowbray to hunt and drink and (on at least one occasion literally) paint the town red. Henry maintained a connection with Ipswich evident in A Cockney's Shooting Season in Suffolk (1822) and The First Steeple-Chase on Record (1839), which recorded a nocturnal romp by cavalry officers stationed at Ipswich in 1803 and became the single most popular set of sporting prints. The Beaufort Hunt (1833) and The Quorn Hunt (1835) were his most distinguished hunting sets. He was also a prolific designer, etcher, and lithographer of scenes relating to racing shooting coaching and other sports, and in 1820 he issued a series entitled National Sports of Great Britain. He wrote several books on aspects of engraving including The Art and Practice of Engraving (1849). Alken never used his second name leading to confusion with his son Samuel Henry Gordon who also signed designs and paintings 'H. Alken'. Indeed H. Alken may have been less a person than a family industry, and precise authorship of the resulting prolific output remains difficult to disentangle. The better sporting paintings have usually been attributed to Henry Thomas. (Biographical details adapted from DNB.) Coloured plates in order: 1. Frontis. First View of a Point. "What makes the stupid Dog stand so?" 2. First View of a Woodcock. "Mark that thing there, with the long Bill." 3. First shot Flying. "He flies off his Charger, and the Birds fly away." 4. Ox Bird - or Stint Shooting. A Signal of Distress. 5. First Shot at a Hare. "I've hit one of them by George!" 6. The Best Shot of All. "I'll never touch a Gun more. I give you my Pledge."