ALKEN, Henry. The National Sports of Great Britain. London: Thomas McLean, 1820-1821. 2° (475 x 315mm). Hand-coloured aquatint frontispiece and 50 hand-coloured aquatint plates by J. Clark after Alken, parallel text in English and French. (Light creasemark to frontispiece and title, light dust-soiling and occasional spotting of plate margins, a few isolated spots and some faint offsetting to images.) Contemporary blue straight-grained morocco, sides panelled in gilt and blind, gilt spine compartments, two decorated with a stag, the rest with title and arabesques, gilt edges (joints neatly restored, covers lightly scuffed). Provenance: Fitz Eugene Dixon (bookplate; his sale, Anderson Galleries, New York, 6 January 1937, lot 26, $1,825 [£365]) -- Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (bookplate; his sale, Christie's London, 26-27 January 2006, lot 611).
THE DIXON-GLOUCESTER COPY, THE 'EXTREMELY RARE' FIRST ISSUE in a contemporary sporting binding. This is Alken's most ambitious work, and one of the great 19th-century colour-plate books, with 'aquatints of exceptional quality considered by many to be Alken's greatest achievement and one of Britain's finest sporting books' (Litchfield). The first issue frontispiece is dated 1820 rather than 1821. Dixon describes the binding as 'exceedingly interesting. Many of those who have examined it believe it to have been bound by Thomas Gosden'. The same stag tool appears on the binding of the Schwerdt and Litchfield copies (see Schwerdt IV, plt. 3 and Litchfield 14). Originally published in parts. Dixon 26; Mellon/Podeschi 111; Schwerdt I, p. 19 & IV, p. 4; Siltzer p. 70; Tooley 41.