The Fables of Aesop With a Life of the Author and Embellished with one Hundred Twelve Plates, Vol. I
. Printed for John Stockdale Piccadilly, . London
PA3855.E5 1793 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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This is one of the most impressive treasures I have found. Unless I am deceived, it is at last a true first edition Stockdale. See 1793/1810? for two pairs of volumes found earlier that keep the 1793 title-page but were in fact printed later, as the paper's watermark confirms. Signs of this particular edition by contrast include the elongated s like an f without the crossbar, the misprint of the page number for the last page of this volume (891 for 198), and the advertisement for Gay's fables after the last page of the second volume. The cover of this copy is detached and holding on literally by a string. However it has relatively little foxing and excellent impressions of the illustrations. I cannot find a watermark on this paper; I am eager to find someone who can tell me what that might mean! This volume contains the life of Aesop and forty-seven fables. The illustrations here remind one regularly of Gheeraerts and Hollar. Among the best are WL (facing 5), The Ass Eating Thistles (17), The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (43), The Fox and the Tiger (125), OR (133), The Porcupine and the Snakes (161), and The Jackdaw and the Peacocks (187). There is a curious and careful rendition of a beaver facing 79 well matched to Croxall's circumspect narrative. This beaver could be hissing at the approaching dogs, or he could be preparing to amputate the certain part of which Croxall speaks so delicately! Like many artists, those working here have trouble depicting a lion's face. I am grateful to the Adyes at Abbey Antiquarian Books for help in distinguishing out editions of this book that are not true firsts. They mention that the copperplates are by T. Stothard, Grainger &c. Am I ever happy to have this book!