WHITTAKER, John (publisher) -- Magna Carta Regis Johannis XV. Die Junii anno regni XVII. A.D. MCCXV. London: John Whittaker, 1816[-1817].
Broadsheet 2° (500 x 361mm). PRINTED IN GOLD ON VELLUM, EACH LEAF WITH ORIGINAL DECORATION IN WATERCOLOUR AND BODYCOLOUR by J. Harris, Kennington (signed on final verso), 14 leaves, comprising title, dedication to the Prince Regent (later George IV), list of signatories, and 11 pages of text of the Magna Carta; a contemporary final paper leaf contains a MS list of the signatories and brief biographies. Contemporary red hard-grained morocco gilt by Wright, gilt edges (expertly rebacked preserving original backstrip); modern box. Provenance: [Brentano's, New York (blindstamp on flyleaf) -- A.W. Flühmann (monogram booklabel).
Whittaker published "the most magnificent of all editions of the Magna Carta" (Lowndes) in several issues, distinguished by their level of luxury. The present is one of the special copies, printed in gold on vellum and with original decoration; rarely are two copies alike. This is one of the few signed by the artist, John Harris. John Harris, father and son, were the first artists responsible for the decoration of these de luxe copies. John Harris junior (1791-1873) then established his reputation as an unrivalled facsimilist, whose work even the great Panizzi had difficulty distinguishing. The heraldic work was reputedly done under the direction of Thomas Willement (Lowndes). Cf. Weimerskirch, in The Book Collector, 42, 1993, pp.245-52; R. Thomson, Historical Essay [on] Magna Carta 1829, pp.458-60, calling for the Covenant text at end, not present here, as often. Lowndes II, 1450.