Outstanding series of chromolithographed monogram specimens, 1860-72


MONOGRAMS by G. Barclay, assisted by I. F., W. H. R., I. B. and others. 13 (of 15) part issues with 69 (of 91) plates. London: s.a. [1860-72].

George BARCLAY: MONOGRAMS by G. Barclay, assisted by I. F., W.[illiam] H.[arry] R.[ogers] (William Harry), I. B. and others. 13 (of 15) part issues with 69 (of 91) plates containing chromolithographed, lithographed and blind-embossed monograms, the original wrappers bound in. London: 8, Green Street, Leicester Square.–W.: Published by the author, s.a. [1860-72].

8vo (28:18 cm). 85 ll. (numbered 1-22 and 35-97); 26 ll. front and rear wrappers. (Chromo-)Lithography, blind embossing and letterpress, bound in contemporary half cloth with gilt title printing, the original publisher's typographic wrappers in differently coloured stock bound in.

Outstanding series of skilfully drawn and well printed monogram specimens for use in applied arts, artisanry and industry, particularly rare even in single issues.

Content, Artist: Besides a brief history of monograms with particular focus on Britain, present work by British engraver George Barclay (1830-72) and some contributors covers hundreds of illustrations of monogram specimens with two or multiple interlaced letters, Christian names and symbols, as well as crowns, heraldic attributes, trade emblems and typefaces. The collection was designed „to assist medal, die, silver and gem engravers and chasers, or those who, like illuminators and embroiderers, have need to produce monograms or conventionalised alphabet. A clearly sensible written text is appended to a series of examples that have unquestionably been produced by persons of considerable taste, and whom study has qualified for the task.“ (Review for part A in »Athenaeum«, 15th Sept. 1860).

Present set contains 13 parts of 15 published (A, B, E, F, G, H, IJK, L, M, N, O&P, Q&R, S). Barclay had intended to issue a total of 20 parts, but publication ceased with the letter S upon his death. Alas, this set misses the part issues for letters C (1861, 5 pl., 1 text l.), D (5 pl.). All original typographic wrappers in differently coloured stock are bound in, as well as title pages for parts E, F and G. All plates are protected by lettered tissue guards.

Barclay also published »Thirty Varieties of the Monogram« and »What is a Monogram?« (an extract of present work) among others, works that he promotes on the rear wrappers of the part issues.

Condition: Ex library copy (K.k. Staatsgewerbeschule, Graz, Austria) with the institution's stamp on front wrappers and plates, the latter also with inventory stamp. The set was bound by the institution's bookbinder cutting the book-block at the tail-edge, no text loss however.

Rarity: Very rare in trade, even in less complete sets or single part issues. WorldCat, KVK and viaLibri Libraries locate only 8 holdings in institutional holdings worldwide, at least 3 with a higher number of missing parts (Cambridge; Edinburgh (NLS); London (BL [91 pl.], V&A [12 parts]), Oxford (Bodleian Lib.,[11 parts [A, C-N]), New York (Columbia), Paris (BnF [10 parts]). RBH shows no auction records at all.