Selected plates

  • Entire book
The Elegant Girl; or, Virtuous Principles the true Source of Elegant Manners. Illustrated by Twelve Drawings with Lines to each and a Poem called The Mother
London: S. Inman, No 7 Lambs Conduit Street, [1817]
Engraved title with hand-coloured vignette by Alais and a further 11 (of 12, missing plate 2) hand-coloured copper-engraved plates. Oblong 4to : 233 x 335 mm (sheets), FiIRST EDITION. Contemporary quarter calf over boards, worn and rubbed, gilt to spine (worn) lower and right margin of Plate 5 restored with acid paper showing offsetting on following plate, blanks and all poem leaves creased, scattered thumb soiling, toning, and several short clean tears. A gorgeous work, with 11 finely hand-coloured copperplate engravings, charting the course of young Laura's day as she modestly demonstrates her many virtues of charity, faith, kindness, industry, and so on. At the end is a 14 page poem, The Mother, a mothers plea for guidance in the proper upbringing of her young children. In physical terms, this is probably the most sumptuous hand-coloured children's book of the pre-Victorian period (Alderson & Moon, Childhood Re-Collected, 1994)

Coloured plates in order:

1. Title page.
2. Child saying her prayers before going to bed. "Devotion's lovely form we see..."
3. Child drawing its mother's attention to a young boy, outside their window, dressed in rags selling goods. "But what a picture here is given !..."
4. Young girl being tutored on the piano by her teacher. "Her Master pointing to the book..."
5. A young artist painting. "Though first the humble copyist stands..."
6. A small group of children learning their lessons outside beneath a tree. "Look at the group beneath the tree..."
7. A mother with her child, about to leave the room. "The Lady here holds out her hand..."
8. A young girl visiting an old lady with a spinning wheel "To visit a poor cottage dame..."
9. A young child bringing its ailing mother a drink "Languid and pale, the Mother lies..."
10. A mother playing the harp before her daughter "To innocence what charms belong..."
11. A young child reading to a sick lady who has taken to her bed "In sickness when the poor you see..."
12. A mother and child about to wrap up and donate boxes of gifts for the poor "Here Laura by her Mother led..."

Not in Tooley, Abbey, Osborne Collection or Gamuchian. OCLC locates 4 examples; Di Ricci, Book Collector's Guide p. 215; Tuer, Pages and Pictures from Forgotten Children's Books (1889) p. 419; E.V. Lucas, The Phantom Journal, pp. 67-69;
Hand coloured plates
British Isles, Children, Literature
Stock ID