London: Hurst, Robinson & Co., 1822. Octavo, measuring 7 x 4.5 inches: xx, 52. Original blue paper boards, rebacked with original printed paper spine label laid down. Engraved frontispiece and twenty full-page engravings throughout text, notes at rear, text block uncut. Early ownership signature “HJ Lloyd” to upper board, ink presentation inscription “Henry J Lloyd to Mary Parker” on front free endpaper. Light shelfwear to boards, spine label rubbed, lightest occasional foxing.
First edition of this illustrated collection of English poems inspired by the iconography of ancient gems: “Gems illustrate the attributes and tales of antiquity, the fine romances of the poets, the characters of the early languages, the great historic events, and the progress of the arts.” Engraver Richard Dagley reproduces twenty antique (and antique-style) signets and cameos, each plate accompanied by a poem by the literary clergyman George Croly. On Sappho’s downcast portrait, copied from “an undoubted antique,” Croly writes: “She loved -- she felt the lightening-gleam, / That keenest strikes the loftiest mind; / Life quenched in one ecstatic dream, / The world a waste before -- behind.” A near-fine uncut copy of a Romantic curiosity, bridging the ancients and moderns.