Recently acquired: an extraordinarily well-preserved example of a 19th century literary gift annual, a genre of artfully confected book issued for the holiday season, featuring contemporary poetry, essays, travel description, music, exquisite illustration (color as well as black and white), together with fine paper and superb printing.
Friendship’s Offering, or the Annual Remembrancer: a Christmas Present, or New Year’s Gift, for 1825. (London: Lupton Relfe, 13, Cornhill). Dimensions: 14.5 x 9.5 x 2.5 cm. Gift edges. Case includes original purple silk ribbon pull. Bookseller’s ticket on front pastedown: Zanetti & Agnew. Repository of Arts, 94 Market Street, Manchester.
As described in “List of Plates” on page [ix]:
Above left: “Illuminated external Embellishment” • above right: “Illuminated Title Page”
(Left) Spine of paper case (“external Embellishment”) • (Right) Front cover with blind embossing
For contemporary opinion, see:
[Review]. The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 94 (1824), p. 445
“The example of Mr. Ackermann, who has the merit of first introducing from the Continent this species of annual literature, has been followed by two powerful rivals. The first of these which comes under our notice, “Friendship’s Offering,” wears a most captivating appearance, not only as far as external embellishment, embossing, illuminating, &c. but from the beauty of the engravings and the interest of many of its articles, which are original compositions of no ordinary cast. The success of a trial last year has evidently stimulated the proprietors to increased efforts. The present volume contains Views of Constantinople, St. Petersburg, Berne, and Naples, with good Descriptions. Copies of celebrated Pictures, after Murillo, Claude, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Westall, Stothard, &c. The original articles bear the names of Mrs. Opie, Miss M. Edgeworth, Rev. T. Dale, H. E. Lloyd, esq. &c.&c. At the end of the volume is a blank Diary for memoranda, headed by 12 very neat wood engravings of antient castles, churches, &c. all in the county of Kent.
The aim of the editor of “Friendship’s Offering” appears to have been to combine the elegance of art and flowers of literature with the utility of the superior class of pocket-books, and in this (with the deficiency of an almanack, which would have necessarily much increased the price) he has in a great degree succeeded.”