Patrick Pollak

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ANDERSON, A[lexander].
A General History of Quadrupeds. The Figures Engraved on Wood, Chiefly Copied from the Original of T. Bewick, by ..... First American Edition, With an Appendix, Containing Some American Animals not Hitherto Described.

pp. x, 529, (i) blank. Title vignette and profuse wood-engraved illustration. SIZE : c.20.9 x 12.5 cms. Original sheepskin binding, the boards detached and the corners worn, a couple of wear patches with loss of surface, the first couple of gatherings protruding a little, also the final gathering, scattered spotting and a few leaves tending to brown, two leaves with a tear in the lower margin but no loss, with the book-plate of MILTON [MASSACHUSETTS] PUBLIC LIBRARY, presented by MRS. GEO. WIGGLESWORTH - this edition has an interesting production history [see ROSCOE below] for which reason I have left it in its original condition without making any drastic repairs. Remnants of the spine, including the label, remain, the covers are original, as are the end-papers and it is now protected within a solander box.

*SYDNEY ROSCOE Thomas Bewick A Bibliography Raisonné, 1953 ....... pp. 183-186 including a facsimile of the title-page - 'Alexander Anderson, the designer and cutter of the woodcuts in this edition, was born in New York in 1775 and died in Jersey City, N.J., in 1870. Trained as a doctor, his real interests in life were artistic and literary......... There is no available evidence that Bewick's consent to the American edition was sought or given, and piracy there probably was, though by all accounts Anderson was of a singularly upright and honest nature.... in his brief autobiography, he records 'In 1802 I undertook the engraving of three hundred cuts for Bewick's Quadrupeds, a laborious undertaking and poorly paid'........... The book is based upon the fourth (1800) edition of the Quadrupeds (No.4); the 'Advertisement' and the text from p.1 to p.519 follow the English edition closely if not word for word. The Figures also are as in the English edition and at the same pages, but are, in each case, in reverse, the natural result of cutting fresh blocks from copies. Many vignettes also are copies, these too (except for that at p.69) being in reverse, but the order of the vignettes is a good deal altered, and a number of new ones appear.' 'The work of redrawing the figures and vignettes is competent - sometimes very much so; but, if the British Museum copy is a fair sample, the printer made a fearful bungle of the job - the impressions are pathetic wrecks. Anderson, in a few cases (Cougar, p.219; Lynx, p.235; Caracal, p.238) 'improved' Bewick's work, and not altogether unsuccessfully, by adding backgrounds. The book is in this country, at all events, EXCESSIVELY RARE [my caps.], the only copy that I have traced being that in the British Museum: from this, leaf Bb7 is missing [it is present in the copy offered above]. A copy was sold at Sotheby's, 8 December 1921, for 5 guineas, the only English sale recorded since 1902.' Roscoe traced 7 copies in the United States, at least two of which were defective (p.183); not only was the printed work a 'fearful bungle' but the paper stock and the binding are cheap and of poor quality. It is of little wonder that the book is so scarce, most copies having fallen to pieces in the 216 years since publication. Checking auction records today, I can only find a single copy sold in the past 30 years, at Swann's, in 2010 for $600, and that had been rebound, a great help in survival. Anderson was the first American wood-cutter and his edition of Bewick the first to introduce an American audience to Bewick. It remained a valuable source for future illustrators and included figures of both American and Australian animals.

Printed by G. & R. Waite, No. 64, Maiden-Lane, New York.

Date Published: 1804. First American Edition.

Stock No. 63339

Price: 1,200.00