London: Printed for the Author, by W. Bulmer and Co., Shakespeare Press, 1817. 3 vols., royal 8vo., (vi), vi, (ii), ccxxv, 410, (2); (iv), 535, (3); (iv), 544, (4) pp. In addition to numerous engravings, woodcuts, and prints on india paper within the text, vol. 1 has 16 plates, vol. 2 has 6 plates, vol. 3 has 16 plates. Full brown straight-grained morocco, gilt-panelled backstrips, raised bands, gilt edges, extremities slightly scuffed, a very good set in its original de luxe binding probably by Lewis. Occasional foxing and offsetting as usual. includes plate 9 in vol. 1 almost always missing; and two rare printed ephemeral items (see below). First and Only Edition, limited to 800 regular and 50 large-paper copies. In addition to having the plate in vol. 1 almost always missing, this copy includes two very rare pieces of ephemera: a printed invitation to the dinner celebrating publication of the Decameron beginning "Right Hertye" dated Nov. 2 (by hand) 1817 and signed Rosicrusius in print and thereunder in ink "alias TFD". Also at the front is the two-page printed "Ordre of the Revels". On the 9th of December 1817 Dibdin gave a dinner in celebration of the publication of this book to which he invited a dozen of his Roxburghe Club friends and for which he had printed a two page ‘Ordre of the Revels’, the Rev. Henry Drury’s copy of which is now at Harvard (Hofer). In this ‘Ordre’ it is not stated that part of the ceremonies would be the burning of the woodblocks for this work as described by Dibdin, Reminiscences, pp. 625-30.’ Barlow has the ‘Ordre’ in his copy of the Bibliotheca Spenceriana. There is another state with ‘Revels’ spelled ‘Reuels’; so in Priddy’s Haslewood copy, which contains Haslewood’s reply.
Lowndes says of this work: "From the information which it contains, and the splendor of the decorations and printing, it will ever be considered as a model of excellence and good taste in typography and the arts." Dibdin virtually beggared himself to pay for the production of this extraordinary book, even selling his personal library for its sake. The text consists of a series of dialogues on every aspect of books and book-collecting; and the number and range of the illustrations is breathtaking. Hart calls it “a bibliographer’s classic that marks the beginning of the general recognition of bibliomania as a plaything for wealth.” Windle & Pippin A28. Provenance: Francis Frederick Fox (bookplate); Harry Bradfer-Lawrence (bookplate); Lister; Colin Franklin; Charles Sebag-Montefiore. Item #122749