SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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ALKEN, Henry Thomas.
The National Sports of Great Britain.

"Alken himself seems to have drawn in colours and engraved the plates, which like most of his book illustrations are peculiarly pleasing on account of their small size. The preface deals with, and condemns, the prevailing practice of baiting animals, although the three last plates depict various forms of this barbarous sport." (Schwerdt) Despite having the same title as the folio of 1821, this work, published at three guineas, contains a different series of plates, some drawn from earlier works. The work includes six plates of horse racing, ten of fox hunting, six of coursing, twelve of shooting, and two of fishing, together with others of poaching and the baiting sports about which Alken himself was so critical. No doubt he believed that representing them as ‘National Sports’ was better than pretending they did not exist. The one sport depicted that does not involve animals is prize fighting.

London: Printed for Thomas M'Lean...by Howlett and Brimmer..., 1825
Tooley 436; Bobins II 746.
London: Printed for Thomas M'Lean...by Howlett and Brimmer..., 1825

Small folio, (252 x 178 mm)., pp. vi [vii list of plates, viii blank], usually printed on just one side, 50 engraved plates finely and neatly coloured by hand, with plate 12, "Breaking Cover," serving as frontispiece, in contemporary half plum morocco, over marbled boards, spine blocked in gilt with raised bands, all edges gilt; occasional foxing of letter-press, front joint a little rubbed, but generally a very good copy with the coloured plates fresh and clean. Henry Thomas Alken (1785 - 1851) was only one member of a family of distinguished engravers and painters. He was the dominant sporting artist in Britain in the early 19th century, and he painted sporting subjects under the name of "Ben Tally-O." His father, Samuel (1756-1815), was his first teacher, but he studied later with T. Barber, a painter of miniatures, which probably accounts for the excellent detail in his paintings. His two Royal Academy exhibits, in 1801 and 1802, were miniatures of ladies. He was himself an avid sportsman and hunter. This work was first published in 1821. Coloured plates in order: 1. Frontis. Fox Hunting. Breaking Cover...Tally Ho! 2. Race Horse. 3. Racing. Training. 4. Racing. Saddling. 5. Racing. Preparing to Start. 6. Racing...Off. 7. Racing...doing their best. 8. Racing...Going to Weigh. 9. Hunter. 10. Running into a Stag. 11. Earth Stopper. 12. Fox Hunting.....Going to Cover. 13. Fox Hunting, Gone Away...Forward. 14. Fox Hunting...Check. 15. Fox Hunting, Leap...Swishing at a Rasper. 16. Fox Hunting, Death...Who...Whoop! 17. Running into a Fox. 18. Digging Out. 19. Fox Hunters Toast. 20. Coursing, Going Out. 21. Coursing...Finding Soho! 22. Coursing, Hiloo...Hilloo!! 23. Coursing, Picking Up. 24. Coursing...Dead...dead. 25. Coursing, Going Home. 26. Shooting...Going Out. 27. Pointers. 28. Setters. 29. Grouse Shooting. 30. Partridge Shooting. 31. Pheasant Shooting. 32. Fowl Shooting. 33. Snipe Shooting. 34. Bittern Shooting. 35. Bank Shooting for Fowl. 36. Punting for Fowl. 37. Sledging for Fowl. 38. Poachers. 39. Ferreting Rabbits. 40. Running a Badger to Bay. 41. Otter Hunting. 42. Hunting the Martin. 43. Anglers. 44. Fly Fishing. 45. Prize Fight. 46. Dog Fight. 47. Cock Fighting. 48. Bull Baiting. 49. Bear Baiting. 50. Badger Baiting.