Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages.
Shaw, Henry.

London: William Pickering, 1843. First edition in book form. Originally published in monthly parts in 1840. With added color title page letterpress printed in black and red. Text illustrations, including elaborate initials and other decorations, were wood block printed in color to accompany every entry in the volume. Includes 94 chromolithograph copper plates heightened with gilt and hand coloring. The plates illustrate paintings, stained glass, jewelry, furniture, vestments, gold cups, and more. Marbled endpapers with two 19th century bookplates of Sir Thomas Tobin, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London along with Shaw, and collector Robert Day. Some rubbing to spines and edges of boards and some foxing, as usual. Bookseller’s catalogue entry dated 1904 laid into first volume on endpaper. Both volumes housed in custom red cloth slipcase. Overall two very good volumes with many vibrant illustrations. Contemporary half polished calf and marbled boards. Stamped and lettered in gilt on spines, ruled in gilt on boards. All edges gilt. Two volumes, small folio Pages unnumbered. (Item ID: 16656)


Henry Shaw (1800-1873) was a printer and graphic artist with a particular interest in medieval art and illuminated manuscripts. His works, which include the books Specimens of Ancient Furniture and Specimens of the Details of Elizabethan Architecture, showcase his impressive skills as an engraver and a lithographer. McLean’s Victorian Book Design describes the present volume as Shaw’s “most ambitious” work, “a magnificent production,” and possibly “the most handsome book produced in the whole of the nineteenth century.” Shaw was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and oversaw the production of Renaissance artifact and manuscript facsimiles for the British Museum Library. Sir Thomas Tobin (1807-1888) was a prominent British merchant and collector of books and antiquities. He was a member of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquities and, like Shaw, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. His wife, Lady Catherine Tobin (1835-1903), was also a collector, as well as an author and translator of French literature. Robert Day (1836-1914) was a photographer and an important collector of antiquities. He was the president of the Cork Cuverian Society and its successor, the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society.

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