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Two 4to volumes: n.p., n.d. [London; 1900] Signed Zaehnsdorf bindings in full-morocco with raised bands and compartments and gold tooling. An exceptional compendium of original art, hand-colored broadsides, and b/w illustrations from the first 25-years of Cruikshank’s prolific career. These are the first two of what were originally four volumes of Cruikshank art collected and collated by English painter and book illustrator F.W.Pailthorpe (Oliver Twist/Great Expectations). Although volumes 3 & 4 are lost to history, these two volumes [1811-1827 and 1828-1837] contain Cruikshank’s best original comic work, before he dedicated himself almost exclusively to literary illustration. Contents include extracts from the first edition of Thackeray’s famous essay on Cruikshank with in-text illustrations, [Westminster Review; London, 1840] and nearly 150 original plates and illustrations expertly mounted one or two per page on 120-lb tissue-protected card stock. Included are twelve original Cruikshank sketches and watercolors, one of which is signed by Cruikshank in ink; fifty-four hand-colored full-page plates and broadsides; and 96 black and white engravings. Most of the latter appear to have been excised from first editions of Cruikshank's books, almanacs, song sheets, etc. but some are India proofs printed from the original plates. The title and content pages are hand-lettered by Pailthorpe, with a color frontispiece and his own b/w engraved portrait of Cruikshank. Volume 1 has been re-backed, closely matching the original covers. Other compendiums such as this occasionally appear in the market -- collecting Cruikshank was a popular pastime -- but this is the best and most elaborate we have seen. Fine.