Wednesday, October 26, 2011

15. Rivers of disappointment

On 6 December 1889, the Publishers' Circular contained an advertisement of Cassell & Company, Limited, for The Rivers of Great Britain: Descriptive, historical, pictorial. Rivers of the East Coast. The volume, 'now ready', was part of a series of cloth bound topographical publications 'with numerous highly finished engravings'. The advertisement illustrated a view from the old bridge of Invercauld, Braemer, and the volume was said to contain 'illustrations from original drawings' by twenty-one artists, including the 23-years old Charles Ricketts.

Advertisement for Rivers of the East Coast (Publishers' circular, 6 December 1889, p. 33)

Chapters on the Tay, the Tweed, the Tyne, the Wear, etcetera, were illustrated by R. Randoll, W.H.J. Boot, R. Jobling, and other artists, but Ricketts did not contribute to the book, in spite of the advertisement. Perhaps he did not deliver a drawing, or his drawing was rejected; the realistic, topographic illustration was not his forte. It is interesting to read, though, that the publisher used his name in the advertisement, albeit it among twenty others.

Front cover of Rivers of the East Coast (1892 edition)
I have a copy of the 1892 edition, not the first 1889 edition. As Cassell's regularly published revised editions, with new illustrations by younger artists, perhaps Ricketts's drawing (or drawings) was (or were) discarded in the 1892 edition? It is now possible to check this, as many books from the period have been digitized and the Internet Archive gives access to the 1889 edition in several formats. The 1892 edition is identical to the 1889 edition, except for the advertisements at the back. Alas, Ricketts did not do a drawing for  the book about East Coast rivers.

Illustration by R. Jobling (Rivers of the East Coast, 1892, p. 169)