London: Willoughby and Co., . First edition. Etched frontispiece, full-page etched title, and 2 etched plates (between pp. 50-51 and 88-89), all finely hand colored. With wood-engraved head- and tail-pieces throughout, some by Edward Townsend Hartshorn (1828 - 1900) and some signed “S. White.”. Some rubbing to gilt. Also lettered and stamped in gilt on spine. Neatly rebacked with original spine laid down. All edges gilt. Some toning to edges and some dampstaining to bottom margin. Some offsetting from plates. Later bookplate of Walter Flinn on front pastedown. Overall a very good, tight copy with attractive illustrations and a pretty binding. Publisher’s pictorial red cloth stamped in blind and ornately stamped in gilt in imitation of the bindings of Charles Dickens’ Christmas books. Small octavo. vi] pp., 165 pp. Item #16820
Bindings imitating the style of Dickens’ Christmas books were popular among publishers in the mid-nineteenth century, in hopes of producing titles to rival those of Dickens. The Faces in the Fire is particularly reminiscent of the original cloth bindings of Dickens’ The Cricket on the Hearth and A Christmas Carol.
Though George Frederick Pardon (1824-1884) was primarily a sports writer, and published over twenty books on sports and games, he also wrote travel guides and children’s books. His King Arthur myth retelling, Boldheart the Warrior (1859), was illustrated by Gustav Doré (1832-1883); Pardon also collaborated on a picture book with nature illustrator Harrison William Weir (1824-1906). The plate in the present book could be that of British historian and professor Michael Walter Flinn (1917-1983), who wrote An Economic and Social History of Britain 1066-1939 (1962).