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Grolier Club Exhibitions

1820-1836: “The Great George.” When Humorous Etching Was King


The Humourist: A Collection of Entertaining Tales, Anecdotes, Repartees, Witty Sayings, Epigrams, Bon Mots, Jeu d’Esprits, &c. Carefully Selected. London: Printed and Published by J. Robins and Co., Albion Press, Ivy-Lane, Paternoster-Row, 1819.

Four volumes: Vol. 1 undated, Vols. 2-4 dated 1819, 1820, and 1821 respectively. First issued by Robins in 40 6p parts. This is the first book edition in their original pink paper-covered boards with Cruikshank’s design engraved on the covers and 40 hand-colored etchings.

Frontispiece and engraved title page.

The Progress of a Midshipman, Exemplified in the Career of Master Blockhead: In Eight Coloured Prints Designed by a Naval Officer, and Engraved by G. Cruikshank. London. Published by G. Humphrey, 27, St. James’s Street. 1821.

Album containing eight hand-colored etchings by Cruikshank after eight drawings by Frederick Marryat, each dated 1820, bearing Marryat’s anchor mark and Cruikshank’s signature as sculpt. First edition, first state. Together with the same set of plates with darker, less delicate coloring, each dated 1821, first edition, second state, together with the original wrapper for the 1821 series and an early undated but lettered proof of Plate 1, “Fitting Out.” Marryat (1792–1848) was a British Royal Navy officer, novelist, and a good friend and collaborator of Cruikshank’s.

Plate I, “Fitting Out.” First edition, first state.

Life in London; or, the Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq. and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis. By Pierce Egan. Embellished with Thirty-Six scenes from Real Life, designed and etched by I. R. & G. Cruikshank; and enriched also with numerous original Designs on wood, by the same Artists. London: Printed for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, Paternoster-Row. 1821. First issue of first book edition. First published in 12 monthly parts from October 1820 through July 1821. Extra Illustrated.

Bound in after page xv: Single heavy leaf with hand-colored stipple-engraved portrait of George Cruikshank and an original sepia ink drawing, signed “Rob’t Cruikshank 1828” below it.

Original Drawings by Isaac, Robert and George Cruikshank. Collector’s Album. Ex Libris Adolph Zukor. Contains original drawings and watercolor studies on paper by all three Cruikshanks.

Adolph Zukor (1873–1976) was an Austro-Hungarian-born American film producer and a founder of Paramount Pictures. This is a treasure trove of original sketches by George Cruikshank.

Manuscript letter from the satirical writer and publisher, William Hone to GCk, 18 June 1822, asking for his autograph for a friend.

As usual, GCk has filled every blank space with ink sketches and doodles, including several large signatures of his own and Hone’s, and a sketch of the gibbet from the famous “Bank Restriction Note” satire published by Hone in 1819. The tone of the letter indicates the strong friendship between the two men.

Etched “Bank Restriction Notice” also bound into the Zukor album.

Cruikshank later called this etching his most important work claiming that it led to the abolition of the death penalty for knowingly or unknowingly passing a fake one pound note.

Inside double fold of Hone’s letter, with GCk’s ink sketches of dandies with ink inscription: “Tom Jerry & Logic,” characters he had drawn for Life in London, published the previous year.
Autograph letter opposite Hone letter, from James Robins [GCk’s publisher] to GCk, dated 24 Dec. 1827, advising him that he hadn’t heard from Clement [William Inell Clement, owner of Bell’s Life in London] and thus was compelled to “give him notice of action.”

Cruikshank’s note on the back refers to Mr. Clement as “the proprietor of Bell’s Blackguard[?] Life in London,” and complains bitterly of Clements’ misuse of his work.

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Points of Humour. Illustrated by the designs of George Cruikshank. London: Published by C. Baldwyn, Newgate Street. Parts I and II. 1823, 1824. With ten etchings and eight woodcuts.

Illustration for “The Downfall of the Holy Church,” Part I, Point IX, p. 42.
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German Popular Stories. Translated from the Kinder und HausMarchen. Collected by M. M. Grimm from Oral Tradition. Published by Charles Baldwyn, London, 1824. Second English Edition. Vol. II. Published by James Robins & Co., London, 1826. First English Edition.

Vol. I: Illustration for “The Elves and the Shoemaker.”

These volumes were the first English translations of the original tales written by the Grimm brothers. Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Carl Grimm (1786–1859) were German academics, philologists, lexicographers, who collected and published folklore. Their classic collection, Children’s and Household Tales (Kinder-und Hausmärchen), was published in two volumes – the first in 1812, the second in 1815. Between the first editions of 1812/1815 and the seventh (and final) edition of the combined tales in 1857, they revised their collection many times, so that it grew from 156 stories to more than 200.

Baldwyn learned about the tales from a family member of his printer, Edgar Taylor, who had just returned from studying in Gottingen where he had enjoyed reading the newly published stories, and offered to translate them for Baldwyn. Cruikshank’s wee copper etchings of the Grimms’ elves and ogres, some of the best he ever did, met with great applause and were a foundation of his reputation as one of the finest etchers of all time.

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Vol. II: Illustration for “The Young Giant and the Tailor.”
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Mornings at Bow Street; A Selection of the Most Humorous and Entertaining Reports Which Have Appeared in the Morning Herald. By Mr. Wight (Bow Street reporter for the Morning Herald). With Twenty-One Illustrative Drawings by George Cruikshank. London: Printed for Charles Baldwyn, Newgate Street. MDCCCXXIV.

By the mid-18th century, Bow Street, near Covent Garden, was known for where everyday crimes and petty disputes met the law. These woodcut vignettes depicting amusing scenes of everyday urban life initiated a new popular genre in book publishing, the most celebrated example of which was Sketches by Boz, written 12 years later by another young journalist, Charles Dickens, also illustrated by Cruikshank.

“The White Sergeant or the Petticoat Government.”

The Holiday Grammar. By Alfred Crowquill, Esq., Etched by George Cruikshanks [sic] for the Present Generation, Passing Murray, Dilworth, and All Past Grammarians in Simplicity, And As fitting for the future as the present Generation; Wherein Each Article is Hieroglyphically and Laconically Defined, and Adapted to the Capacity of All Degrees, whether Positive, Comparative, or Superlative. London: Printed for S. Knights, Sweetings-Alley, Royal-Exchange. 1825.

Album with four series of etchings, Illustrations of Time; Phrenological Illustrations; Scraps and Sketches; and Scraps and Sketches. Part the Second.

Published by the Artist 1826-1829. Each has an uncolored wrapper and six plates with numerous vignettes on each; three series are hand-colored; the final one is uncolored. The little scenes in these pages are very fine, depicting a great wealth of commentary on the joys and miseries of everyday life.


Phrenological Illustrations, Or an Artist’s View of the Craniological System of Doctors Gall and Spurzheim. By George Cruikshank. London: Published by George Cruikshank, Myddelton Terrace, Pentonville; and Sold by J. Robins and Co., Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row; S. Knights, Sweeting’s Alley, Royal Exchange; and G. Humphrey, 24 St. James Street. MDCCCXXVI.

Plate 1. “Philoprogenitiveness.” “Designed Etched and Published by George Cruikshank August 1st 1826.” Father, mother and grandmother with the couple’s 16 children, all of whom have dad’s and their paternal grandma’s nose.

The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Late Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, Mediator of the Confederation of Switzerland, &c. &c., his Astonishing Career, etc., with Biographical Memoirs of Contemporary Characters, &c., &c. Edited by W. H. Ireland, Member of the Atheneum of Sciences and Arts at Paris. Embellished with Accurate Views of His Battles, &c. &c. &c., Engraved by G. Cruikshank from the original Designs of Vernet, Denon, &c., executed at Paris by Duplesis Berteaux. Vol. I. London: Printed and Published by John Fairburn, Broadway, Ludgate Hill. 1823.

Four volumes printed 1823-1828. Originally published in 64 separate parts. This is the first issue of the first book edition, containing the original 27 plates, 24 of which are hand-colored, all but one are foldouts.

Vol. III, “Napoleon Witnessing the Conflagration of Moscow, from the Palace of the Kremlin.” Published Jan’y 20, 1826, by John Fairburn, Broadway, Ludgate Hill. Designed & Engraved by Mr. George Cruikshank.
“A Battle of Engravers.” Signed - George Cruikshank fecit – TW with engraved title [1828].

Illustration to Thomas Wilson's A Catalogue Raisonné of the Select Collection of Engravers of an Amateur, pl. 44. Depicts a mêlée of combatants using engraving tools as weapons: Hogarth with his dog is the only combatant with a palette instead of a copper-plate for a shield, and paint-brushes in his quiver. His opponent, Antoine Masson (1636-1700), defends himself with a rapier. William Woollett (1735-85) spars with J. J. Baléchou (1719-64). Behind them Dürer attacks Marcantonio Raimondi (c. 1480-c. 1530). An unidentified engraver is firing a huge bottle of aquafortis supported on a grindstone. Second or third state.


Punch and Judy. With Illustrations Designed and Engraved by George Cruikshank. Accompanied by the Dialogue of the Puppet Show, an Account of its Origin, and of Puppet Plays in England. [By John Payne Collier] London: Printed for S. Prowett, 55, Pall Mall. 1828. Extra-Illustrated.

Twenty-four etched plates including frontispiece, in two states, colored and uncolored. First edition, first issue, plus four woodcuts in text and title page vignette. This beloved puppet play first appeared in England in 1662. It was performed throughout England for many years by an ancient puppeteer, Piccini. This is the play’s first publication, recorded by Collier directly from a specially commissioned performance by Piccini, with Cruikshank making his drawings while watching the play as well.

Hand-colored frontispiece. "Mr. Punch etched by George Cruikshank. From the original miniature in the possession of the publisher."

Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, Addressed to J. G. Lockhart, Esq. By Sir Walter Scott, Bart. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, MDCCCXXX. Frontispiece by J. Skene, engraved by W. H. Lizars. Extra-illustrated with 12 engravings in three states (India proof, uncolored, and hand-colored), from the first and second issues of “Twelve Sketches Illustrative of Sir Walter Scott’s Demonology and Witchcraft,” published for Cruikshank by J. Robins & Co. London. 1830.

According to Cohn, the first issue of Cruikshank’s plates was only on plain and India paper uncolored. The colored versions are probably from a reissue of the suite published by Charles Tilt in 1837.

Plate 10. Hand-colored etching: "Witches' Frolic."

Volume 1 of My Sketch Book. Designed, Etched & Published by George Cruikshank. 23 Myddleton Terrace, Pentonville & Sold by Charles Tilt, 86 Fleet Street. Dec. 1st, 1834.

Album containing engraved title page and 36 etched plates with many hand-colored caricature sketches on each, making fun of everyday life, issued in nine publications, four plates each, in tan wrappers, all of which, front and back, are bound in after the plates. Binding by Rivière and Son.


A Comic Alphabet. Designed Etched & Published by George Cruikshank. No. 23 Myddelton Terrace, Pentonville. 1837.

Second edition, with 24 hand-colored etchings, each separated by a leaf, with yellow wrappers designed by Cruikshank bound in. The rear wrapper has a portrait of Charles Tilt in his bookshop surrounded by Cruikshank-illustrated books with a T at the top of the page. The coloring is superb. First issued in 1836 as 24 uncolored etchings on a single sheet.

V U - Very Unpleasant.