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One Hundred Fables, Original And Selected, By James Northcote, R.A. &c. &c. Embellished With Two Hundred And Eighty Engravings on Wood.

James Northcote RA

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Geo: Lawford, Saville Passage. Printed By J. Johnson., 1828.

Physical Description

[iv], iii, [i], 272 p., frontis., [1] pl. (fold.): illus.; 218 mm. (Quarto.)


[Frontis., t.p., dedic.] - Preface - [Plate, fold.] - [Text, with illus.] - Index To [i.e. list of] The Engravings; [colophon].

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece portrait is captioned as 'James Northcote, Esqr. R.A. &c. From An Original Painting By Harlow ...' and is signed as engraved by W.H. Worthington. It carries the publisher's imprint of Geo. Lawford, and the date (1829).

Responsibility for the illustrations is explained by Northcote in his Preface: 'Although the original invention and designs for the prints at the head of each Fable are my own, yet they have been most excellently drawn on wood and prepared for the Engravers, by Mr. William Harvey ... The ornamental letter at the beginning of each Fable, and the vignette at the end, are solely the invention of Mr. Harvey. The execution of the prints has been intrusted to the hands of the most eminent engravers ... and the Critic in art is referred to the Index for the names of each ... Also much is due to Mr. John Johnson, of the Apollo Press, whose skill in the difficult task of printing engravings on wood, has been long well-known'. Several of the engravers' names given in the Index appear also as signatures with the illustrations themselves. They are J. Jackson, R. Branston, C. Nesbit, H. White, G.W. Bonner, D. Dodd, F.W. Branston, A.J. Mason, T. Mosses, S. Slader, J. Smith, T. Williams, M.U. Sears, J. Wright, H. White Jun., Eliza Thompson, J. Dodd.

The printer's name is repeated in the colophon: 'Johnson, Apollo Printing Office, Brook Street, Holborn.'

The work is dedicated by James Northcote to the King (that is, George IV).


S. Houfe, The dictionary of 19th-century British book illustrators (rev., 1996); R.K. Engen, Dictionary of Victorian engravers, print publishers and their works (1979); C.J. Courtney Lewis, The story of picture printing in England during the nineteenth century (1928); E.C. Bigmore and C.W.H. Wyman, A bibliography of printing (1945); W.J. Linton, The masters of wood-engraving (1889); W. Chatto, J. Jackson and H.G. Bohn, A treatise on wood-engraving (1861).

Summary Note

The publication-date of 1828 is carried by the title page. The frontispiece portrait carries the date 1829.

The work consistes of a hundred fables, each of which begins with a wood engraving showing its subject and a decorated initial, and most of which conclude with a tail-piece. These, and the title-page vignette, are all listed and described in the 'Index To The Engravings'.

The frontispiece shows a portrait of Northcote after Harlow. The folding plate reproduces a letter from Thomas Bewick to Geo: Lawford, dated 19 July 1828, thanking him for the gift of a copy of 'Northcote's highly embellished fables', which he praises for the beauty and brilliance of the cuts: 'Little did I think while I was sitting whistling at my work bench, that wood-engraving would be brought so conspicuously forward ... tottering on the downhill of life my ardour is not a bit abated - and I hope those who have succeeded me will pursue that department of engraving still further towards perfection'.


The front pastedown carries the bookplate of 'CH'. Purchased for RA Library in 1870 (see 'Librarian's Report for the Year 1870', RA Annual Report, Appendix No. 6, p. 29).

Binding Note

19th-century half black morocco, black cloth-covered boards; spine lettered 'Fables - Northcote - I.'


Fables - Animals in Art
Pictorial works - Illustrated books - Great Britain - 19th century


George Lawford, publisher
James Northcote RA, source artist
John Johnson, printer, intaglio printer
George Henry Harlow, source artist
William Henry Worthington, engraver
George IV King of Great Britain
William Harvey, draughtsman
John Jackson, wood engraver
Robert Edward Branston, wood engraver
Frederick William Branston, wood engraver
Charlton Nesbit
Henry White, wood engraver
George Wilmot Bonner, wood-engraver
D. Dodd, wood engraver
Abraham John Mason, wood-engraver
Thomas Mosses, wood-engraver
S. M. Slader, engraver
J. Smith, wood-engraver
Thomas Williams, wood-engraver
M. U. Sears, wood-engraver
John Wright, wood-engraver
Eliza Thompson, wood-engraver
J. Dodd, wood-engraver