GRAY, Thomas (1716-1711). Designs by Mr. R. Bentley for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray. London: R. Dodsley, 1753.
4to in half sheets (386 x 277 mm). Each leaf printed on one side only. Half-title reading "Drawings, &c." Engraved title vignette, 6 engraved plates, 12 head- and tail-pieces, and 6 historiated initials. (A few mostly marginal tears, one crossing plate border, minor dust-soiling to outer uncut edges.) UNCUT IN ORIGINAL GREY BOARDS (rebacked in paper, endpapers renewed, some light wear); morocco-backed slipcase.
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, THE ABEL BERLAND COPY. finely illustrating each of the six poems with a frontispiece, head-piece, initial letter and tail-piece. Gray's Elegy is the final poem in the work, and "A Long Story" is here printed for the first time. At Gray's insistence, the word "Designs" precedes "Poems" in the title, and the title "Mr" was used before each name. The plates by Richard Bentley (1708-1782), are described as "an extraordinary and skilful combination of classical river gods, rococo lightness, and Strawberry Hill Gothic" (Hammelmann and Boase Book Illustrators in 18th Century England, 1975, p.14). Ray English p.4; Rothschild 1061.
Estimate $ 800-1,200
Provenance: Abel E. Berland (acquired from Falkner Greirson, Dublin, 26 May 1970, bookplate, his sale, Christie's New York, 9 October 2001, Lot 233).