London: B.R. Howlette / John Murray, 1813. Second edition. 8vo. , 130 pp. Printed in Greek throughout on fine paper. Contemporary English red diced russia calf (rubbed and worn), tooled in blind, outer frame of gilt palmette rolls, all edges gilt, drab endpapers. Front endpaper waterstained; second blank leaf with paper flaw; outer margins of final pages darkened from turn-ins. With faults, and priced accordingly. Good. Item #3644
THE ONLY KNOWN ILLUSTRATIONS BY MRS. LAVINIA FORSTER. Our copy bears learned MS annotations in Greek and Latin.
Beautifully printed in a Greek font created especially for William Bulmer by William Martin. Dibdin described the 1802 first edition as an "elegant work [that] confers great credit on the printer." Our copy belongs to the second edition, which was printed in the same Greek font, and retains the 20 fine engraved head- and tailpiece vignettes designed by Lavinia Banks Forster (1774-1858), wife of the present editor Edward Foster. Two of the vignettes are signed (in absolutely miniscule lettering) "Publ. by W. Miller Old Bond Street 1802."
Mrs. Lavinia (Banks) Forster was the only child of the sculptor Thomas Banks and his wife Elizabeth. She married the Reverend Edward Forster in 1799, and from 1815 lived in Paris with her husband, who was at that time Chaplain to the British Embassy. There they provided a social center for artists. Her lively and fully accomplished illustrations for her husband's Anacreon represent the only published examples by her that we have been able to trace.
"Few of Anacreon’s works survive, but those that do focus on wine, love (homosexual and heterosexual), and the overall pleasures of the legendary Roman symposium. Anacreon used various techniques in his writings, including self-deprecation and irony. The collection of miscellaneous Greek poems from the Hellenistic Age and beyond known as the Anacreontea was 'mistakenly labeled' with Anacreon’s name" (see William and Mary Law Library online exhibit).
The annotator of our copy was one George Houstoun (on title: "Ex libris Georgii Houstoun." Given the lavishness of the binding, and the fact that the book itself was printed on fine paper, perhaps this individual was George Houstoun (1743-1815), 4th Laird of Johnstone, Renfrew, Scotland. Subsequently signed in pencil inside the lower cover: "R. Bradford."
Dibdin, Greek and Latin Classics vol. I, pp. 266-267 (1802 edition). See DNB (under Edward Forster).