London: James Robins and Co., 1826. "In the Original Boards it is Extremely Scarce" (Cohn)Last Copy At Auction In 1944[CRUIKSHANK, George, artist]. AN OLD SAILOR [pseudonym of M.H. Barker]. Greenwich Hospital. A Series of Naval Sketches, Descriptive of the Life of a Man-O-War's Man. By an Old Sailor. With Illustrations by George Cruikshank. London: James Robins and Co., 1826. First edition. Large quarto (11 1/4 x 8 7/8 in; 286 x 223 mm). iv, 200 pp. Eleven hand-colored etched plates including frontispiece and one hand-colored aquatint plate (#8 "Paying Off"). Plates watermarked "J. Whatman 1825 & 1826". Sixteen text woodcuts. Publisher's original gray paper printed and pictorial boards entirely uncut. Small light marginal stain affecting first eight text gatherings (pp. 1-56), otherwise a very fresh copy. Spine ends, joints and corners expertly and almost invisibly restored. Still an exceptionally fine copy of a book rarely found in this state. Chemised in a felt-lined full dark blue morocco slip case."Originally published in four parts, and then in pink or gray paper picture boards, with woodcuts on the top and bottom covers duplicated from those in the text... In the original parts the work is of the utmost rarity, while in the original boards it is extremely scarce. Bound copies are much more usual. There is a reissue of this item with the plates coloured in a very inferior manner. This should be avoided" (Cohn).According to the ABPC Index, it has been seventy-two years since the last copy in original boards came to auction, in 1944.Of George Cruikshank (1792-1878), little need be added here beyond the fact that he followed his father, Isaac Cruikshank, into the trade and was the successor to Thomas Rowlandson; he was the greatest caricaturist of his era, known as "the Modern Hogarth." "Matthew Henry Barker,(pseud. the Old Sailor, 1790-1846), sailor and writer... served in the Royal Navy... After retiring from the service in 1813, he commanded a hired armed schooner... and was employed ... in carrying dispatches to the English squadrons on the southern coasts of France and Spain. On one occasion he fell into the enemy's hands and was detained for some months as a prisoner of war. In 1825 he became editor of a West India newspaper and was afterwards employed, from 1827 to 1838, in a similar capacity at Nottingham..."Under the pseudonym the Old Sailor, Barker wrote a number of lively and spirited sea tales, very popular in their day. These included such works as Land and Sea Tales (1836); Topsail-Sheet Blocks, or, The Naval Foundling (1838), which ran into several editions; The Naval Club, or, Reminiscences of Service (1843); and The Victory, or, The Wardroom Mess (1844). He was naval editor of the United Service Gazette and a frequent contributor to the Literary Gazette, the Pictorial Times, and Bentley's Miscellany, the last at the time under the editorship of Charles Dickens, who came to value the consistent quality of the contributions of 'the old Sailor'. Barker was a friend of George Cruikshank, who illustrated seven of his works. One of the most attractive of these was the reprint of a series of sketches originally published in the Literary Gazette as 'The Life of a Man-of-War's Man'. The volume edition was called Greenwich Hospital (1826) and was a great success with the public, going into an almost immediate reissue. Two other of his works illustrated by Cruikshank were Tough Yarns (1835), which he dedicated to Captain Marryat, and Nights at Sea (1852). He was also a chief contributor to Cruikshank's Omnibus."Barker felt that his publishers were less than generous with him, and the situation became worse as his sea tales fell out of fashion. He was married, but had increasing difficulty in supporting his family. He died, in poverty, on 29 June 1846" (Oxford DNB).Cohn 53. Abbey, Scenery, 226.
(Inventory #: 03784)
English, American and European Literature, Children's Books, Color-Plate Books, Illustrated Books, Early Printed Books, Private Press Books, Fine Bindings, Original Artwork, High Spot Modern First Editions.
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