The Atlantic Cable. Large paper copy with the plates hand-colored in a remarkable cloth binding by Leighton.

Publisher Information: London: 1865.

Russell, William Howard (1820–1907). The Atlantic telegraph. v, 117pp. plus 4pp. advertisements. Chromolithographed title and 25 tinted plates by Robert Dudley. London: Day & Son, [ca. 1866]. 299 x 208 mm. Original green cloth, elaborately gilt-stamped on front cover and spine, paper onlay on front cover representing a cross-section of the Atlantic cable; uncredited but possibly by Leighton Son & Hodge. Small splits in the upper hinge, slight edgewear. Minor foxing to the plates, but fine otherwise. Bookplate of Alfred Edward Sulzer. With:

The Atlantic telegraph. v, 117pp. plus 4pp. advertisements. Chromolithographed title and 25 tinted plates by Robert Dudley, enhanced with hand coloring and laid down on larger sheets. London: Day & Son, [ca. 1866]. 421 x 292 mm. Original maroon cloth, with the elaborately decorated upper cover of the regular-paper version inlaid into the upper cover. Some foxing, especially to the plates, but fine otherwise. From the library of Samuel Gurney (1816-82), the first chairman of the London and Provincial District Telegraph Company, with typed slip detailing the book’s provenance on the front pastedown; bookplate of Gurney’s great-nephew Samuel Gurney, dated 1934, beneath.

Together 2 items, preserved in a custom quarter morocco drop-back box.

First Editions of the two versions of this lavish and beautifully illustrated Victorian “gift book” commemorating the successful laying of Cyrus Field’s Atlantic cable in 1866. This landmark in the history of telecommunications was one of the greatest technological and engineering achievements of the 19th century. The illustrations are by the London artist Robert Dudley, who accompanied Russell on the voyage. The elaborate gilt-stamped binding, probably by Leighton Son & Hodge, was the most elaborate edition binding on a work concerning science or technology published in Victorian England. Russell’s book on laying the Atlantic Cable may be unique among works on science or technology in that it was issued both as a deluxe illustrated book in regular format with tinted lithographed illustrations, and on large paper with the plates hand-colored, and in original publisher’s cloth bindings. The copies we are offering are in as fine condition as it is possible to find for these books.

The book was written by William Howard Russell, a famous war correspondent with the London Times; Russell was the only journalist allowed to travel with Field’s Atlantic cable expedition. Russell’s work contains an early history of the Atlantic cable project, describing its inception in the mind of Cyrus Field in the mid-1850s; the first Atlantic cable of 1858, which failed only a few weeks after its completion; Field’s second attempt of 1865, which ended with the loss of the cable after two-thirds of it had been laid; and the eventual triumph of Field’s Atlantic cable venture in 1866, which established telegraph communication between America and Europe on a permanent basis. Several of Dudley’s plates show the Great Eastern, then the largest steamship in the world, which Field engaged to lay the second and third Atlantic cables; other plates illustrate the laying of the first Atlantic cable, the geographic sites of the cable’s endpoints, recovery of lost cables, etc.

The typed note on the front pastedown of the large-paper version reads: “This book belonged to my great uncle Samuel Gurney of Carlshalton, and was left by his widow to Henry Gurney, his nephew. After Henry’s death, 1936, it was given to me by Henry’s sister Hariette Louise Gurney.” Dibner, The Atlantic Cable (1959). Origins of Cyberspace 189 (regular paper version).

Book Id: 45471

Price: $9,500.00

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