New York: Thomas Kinnersley, 1825. Leather bound. One volume in two books (complete), quarto size, 958 pp. Very good +. Item #CNJS09
Oliver Goldsmith (ca. 1728-1774) spent much of his life as a wastrel - just barely earning his BA from Trinity, flitting from studying theology to law to medicine, finally finding his stride as a writer for then-current periodicals. It would not be until he was hired by John Newbery (a bookseller and publisher) to write humorous pieces for an otherwise practical financial journal that he began to be critically regarded.
Along the way he met and was befriended by the great Samuel Johnson, a then-rising literary light with the publication of his justly famous Dictionary in 1755; they would remain life-long friends, and it was Johnson who, when Goldsmith was (once again) in penury, sold the copyright of "The Vicar of Wakefield" for the princely sum of GBP 60. This book was finally published in 1766 to largely favourable reviews, although it would not become a best-seller until the Victorian era, with Thackerary referreing to Goldsmith as "the most beloved of writers" (n.b., quote and information from the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).
This work was vastly popular in its day; although Goldsmith had no specific training to bring, his popularity was such that it went through twenty editions from the time of its publication through the Victorian era. First published in 1774, the year of Goldsmith's death, this 1825 publication was put out in one volume (as stated on the title page); however, a prior owner wisely divided it into two books, each of a more manageable size and weight. Each volume "Embellished With a Series of Beautiful and Appropriate Engravings, Designed and Executed by the First Artists" (per the title page). Bound in at the rear of the second volume can be found "The Life of the Author" as well as several of his better-known works, including "The Traveller", "The Deserted Village", and more.
___DESCRIPTION: Two books (which together constitute one volume), each bound in full tree calf, both boards with a gilt decorative border, red and green leather spine labels, the spine richly decorated in gilt, all edges stained yellow, olive green endpapers, frontis an engraving of Goldsmith after a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds with a pictorial border, twenty plates of engravings bound throughout; quarto size (10 7/8" by 8 7/8"), pagination: first volume, [i-iii] iv -2 (Contents)  2-470 (erronously typeset as "170"); the second volume, 471-858 ("Animated Nature" ends at p. 839, which is followed by a dedication to Oliver Goldsmith's brother, The Rev. Henry Goldsmith; the poem "The Traveller", a dedicatory letter to Sir Joshua Reynolds, "The Deserted Village", "The Hermit", and "The Logicians Refuted, In Imitation of Dean Swift" (ending at p. ); this section followed by pp. [i] ii-xvi, the "Life of Goldsmith"; this followed by pp.  860-880 ("Essays"); this followed by pp.  2-55 ("Index"); the final page  being "Directions to the Binder" for the illustrations including the frontis (note that the plates are not included in the pagination).
___CONDITION: The set is better than very good, the leather binding smooth (not powdering), the joints strong, the spine labels firmly attached, corners gently bumped with minimal rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, collated complete, and entirely free of prior owner markings; some overall light wear to the binding, a light dampstain to the first four leaves (contained within the margins), the interior somewhat foxed, particularly the plates, and with a few vintage bookseller notes/prices in pencil on the flyleaves of both volumes; still overall a better than very good example of how the earth, and nature, was viewed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
___POSTAGE: Please note that the set is unusually large and heavy, therefore additional postage may apply as the standard does not always cover costs; please inquire for details.
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