Alken, The National Sports of Great Britain, 1825, with 50 hand-coloured plates
Henry Alken. The National Sports of Great Britain. Fifty engravings with descriptions.
London, printed for Thomas M'Lean, by Howlett and Brimmer, 1825. 26 x 18 cm. vi,  text pages and 50 fine hand-coloured etched plates with tissue guards.
Contemporary gold-tooled red straight-grained morocco, gilt edges, kept in a half cloth clamshell box with gilt-lettered spine. Appears to be recased, the binding rubbed and slightly damaged, the corners bumped. A few plates with small smudges, plate 6 with a neatly closed tear, the box damaged on the upper joint. Overall in good condition.
Arguably Alken's most impressive colour plate book, showing traditional English outdoor sports, with all plates vibrantly hand-coloured.
Henry Thomas Alken (1785–1851) was a prolific artist and engraver and an avid sportsman, best remembered for his lively and often finely hand-coloured hunting prints, most of which he produced between 1816 and 1831. The prints in the present collection show horse racing, fox hunting, coursing, shooting, angling, blood sports, and, perhaps surprising, boxing.
From the collection of Lord Nathan of Churt with his etched armorial bookplate (by H.J.F. Badeley) on paste-down. Harry Louis Nathan, 1st Baron Nathan (1889-1963) was a British liberal politician and book collector whose collection was sold at auction in 1962.
This edition differs from the 1821 edition with the same title. There seems to be some confusion as to the bibliographical format of the present edition. Schwerdt lists it as octavo, while others have catalogued it as "small quarto" or "small folio". The confusion arises from the fact that, as Podeschi's collation correctly shows, it's made up of disjunct leaves (of wove paper watermarked "1822"), rather than quires, rendering the determination of format particularly challenging.
Podeschi, Horse and Horsemanship 121; Schwerdt, Hunting, Hawking, Shooting I, pp. 19-20; cf. DNB I, p. 292.