Simply Stunning! — Engraved Music — A
Bickham, George, Jr. The musical entertainer engrav’d. Vol. I. London: Geo. Bickham, . Folio (38.2 cm, 15.1"). , 4,  pp., 4, 100 ff.; illus. [bound with] Bickham’s musical entertainer. Vol. II. London: Pr. for C. Corbett, 1738.  pp., 4, , 5–100 ff.; illus. [SOLD]
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First edition of
this gorgeous collection of popular 18th-century songs of the theater, street,
and elegant parlor, exquisitely engraved and illustrated
vignettes — a volume of multiple attributes offering not only immediate delight,
but complex resources for serious study of subjects ranging from music to theater
art history to
“society” to dress. Each
along with melody and figured bass lines, and most are given an accompaniment
for flute; some lyrics are by writers so still-famous as Gay or Congreve, with
many more being blazoned as by such then-famous figures as Vauxhall’s “Mr.
Lockman.” Settings are noted as being by, among others, Purcell,
Handel, Haydn, and Arne, as well as “Mr. Boyce, Organist to His Majesty
the King” and “Sig. Putti, of Cambridge.” Many of the
illustrations, some after Gravelot or Watteau, depict people dancing or playing
while others show incidents or vistas from the song lyrics, or scenes from the
plays in which the songs were performed. Some entries bear specific performance
notations, e.g., “as sung at New Sadler’s Wells” (or “by Mrs.
Clive” or “Mr. Vincent”); others supply odd bits of contemporary
information even more economically, e.g., the engraving accompanying “The
True Mason” identifies both lyricist and engraver as “frater”;
some engravings, looked at closely, are very witty or (mildly) risqué. Even
songs’ dedications have their charm for the knowledgeable — or, the curious.
Bickham was a son of the George Bickham who engraved and published The Universal
Penman, and his ornately flourished text and portrayals of theatrical,
social, and pastoral scenes evoke the rococo aesthetic full blown. The editor, often not recognized, was John Frederick Lampe, a popular and prolific composer both for the stage and of hymn tunes; admired by both Handel and Charles Wesley, he also wrote a notable Plain & Compendious Method of Teaching Thorough Bass (1737) and an Art
of Musick (1740).
The collection’s two volumes, issued in parts from 1737 through 1738, are here bound in one, with the subscribers list present; among the names given are Moses Mendez Da Costa (governor of the Bank of England), Christopher Pinchbeck (the English watchmaker), and painter Robert West. A very few subscribers were in America, including Mordecai Booth of Virginia and William Hutchingson of Carolina.
Binding: Early 20th-century signed red morocco done by Wallis. Covers framed in elegant gilt dentelle roll, spine gilt extra, turn-ins with elaborate gilt floral rolls, all edges gilt.
of Mary MacMillan Norton . . . A WOMAN WHO KNEW HOW TO PICK BOOKS!
Not in ESTC; Lowndes, III, 1642. On Bickham and Lampe, see:
The Dictionary of National Biography. Binding as above, showing only very minor
wear to corners and board edges. Front pastedown with bookplate as above. Two
leaves with tear from upper margin into area of impression, both leaves well
repaired. Title-page with faint offsetting, a very few leaves with small spots
of foxing, pages generally quite clean and fresh. An
amazing book, an extraordinary copy.