Harrison’s British Classicks. Containing Dr. Johnson’s Rambler, and Lord Lyttelton’s Persian Letters. [And:] The Adventurer, and the Guardian. [And:] The Tatler. [And:] The First, Second, Third, and Fourth, volumes of the Spectator. [And:] The Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, & Eighth, volumes of the Spectator.

  • (Periodicals)
  • London: Printed for Harrison and Co. 1785
  • ESTC T89004, T89007, N17379, N17381.


SKU: 2099 Category: Tags: , ,


5 vols., 8vo, pp. 463, [1], [iii]-vii, [i], 81, [1]; 358, iv, 366; 641, [1]; 646; [647]-1260 + engraved title-page in each vol. and 71 plates in total. Lacking 10 plates from the maximum possible complement (see below). Contemporary tree calf, spines divided by triple gilt rules, red morocco labels, small black oval numbering pieces. Some foxing, particularly in vol. 2, one leaf in vol. 5 with a torn corner affecting a few words. Bindings a little rubbed, spines showing some creasing from use, otherwise just a few scratches here and there.


Harrison's 'British Classicks' reprinted periodicals in cheaper double-column format, following on from the success of collections of novels, poetry, and plays that were flooding the market in the second half of the 18th century. The volumes were originally published in sixpenny numbers, each with a plate, but the plates within each volume were arranged in random order and specifically not sold with the text that they illustrated, as an inducement to complete each group of the parts. It proved difficult anyway to have the plates ready at the same time as the letterpress in productions like this, with one result being that many copies do not have the maximum number of plates that might have been included. This set is lacking two plates from each volume that were presumably simply not available to the original purchaser. The BL copy, scanned in ECCO, is more complete but lacks three plates in vol. 2 which are present here. The series eventually stretched to eight volumes, though the final three were published some years later and were never present in this set.

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