London: William Blake, 1826.
Invented & engraved by William Blake, 1825. [London: Published by the Author, and Mr. J. Linnell, 1874].
One of 100 sets printed on india paper. Folio (sheets: 20 x 14 inches; 510 x 350 mm. engravings 8 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches; 209 x 158 mm). Line-engraved title and twenty-one line- and stipple-engraved plates by and after Blake. Also with an additional letterpress title-page, not issued with the book. Printed from the original plates. Evidence of the word proof on the lower edge of engravings number 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 18 and 20.
Bound in quarter reverse calf over black cloth. Spine lettered and ruled in gilt. With black and red morocco spine labels, lettered in gilt. Marbled endpapers. Corners a bit bumped, and cloth lightly scuffed. Sheets mounted on stubs. A bit of very light foxing to some of the sheets, generally not affecting engravings, mainly title-page sheet and sheet of plate 20. Plate 14 with the mounting sheet trimmed at top margin about 1.5 inches, not affecting plate. A fine, strikingly clean copy of “Blake’s most widely known achievement” (Keynes).
The engravings were commissioned by John Linnell on March 25, 1823. Despite the date 1825 on the engravings, the plates were not actually issued until March 1826. The entire edition consisted of 315 sets: 150 “Proof” sets on India paper and sixty-five on French paper were printed in March 1826, at which time the word “Proof” was removed from the plates and 100 sets were printed on drawing paper (see Bentley). Blake’s original copperplates remained in the possession of the Linnell family, and as late as 1863, Linnell was offering for sale sets of the India-paper and French-paper issues. By 1874 these must have been sold, as a further 100 sets of the engravings were printed at that time (the present copy is from this set). No more pulls were taken between 1874 and 1919, when the copperplates were given by Herbert Linnell to the British Museum.
Linnell's son wrote "My father considered the plates at the last  were as good as they ever were, for the work being cut by a graver, and not etched, it is durable- and is not worn by the printing as is the case with an etching." (Bentley Books, p. 523).
Bentley 421A. Binyon 105-126. Russell 33.