1793. London: John Stockdale, 1793.
Royal 8vo, 2 vols bound in 1, xi, 225; vii, 160 pp. Engraved frontispiece to vol 1, engraved title to each vol., and 70 plates, with 12 engraved by Blake. This copy does not contain the last 27 pp of vol 2 which is the Life of Gay section, sometimes omitted. Old half calf over brown cloth, moderate wear to spine ends and corners, with black leather label to spine with gilt title.
§ First edition, first issue with Blake's plates. William Blake completely redesigned, and redrew, the 12 images for which he is responsible, and is listed among the subscribers to the edition, as are the other engravers who worked on this project. Blake engraved the plates opposite pp.1, 29, 59, 73, 99, 109, 125, 133 and 181 in volume one; and those opposite pp.1, 105 and 145 in volume two.” (Sotheran’s). The first issue is easily identified because it uses the long “s” throughout and the second does not. The illustrations in the set of Aesop were all based on those of Francis Barlow in his great edition of 1666 (which survives primarily in the reprint of 1687), with the clothing of the depicted humans updated to the late 18th century. A good copy with generous margins; a few plates and pages showing foxing but generally clean throughout. The 12 Blake plates are good with only two where the surrounds are showing any significant foxing : these are at p 29 of vol. 1 and p.105 of vol. 2. The title to vol. 2 has been torn (without any text incursion) prior to its (apparent) 19th C binding and then remounted. Bentley, BB, 460 A. Essick, William Blake’s Commercial Book Illustrations, XXVI. Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England from 1790-1914, 1. Item #108744