Happy Christmas – Frohe Weihnachten – Buon Natale – Joyeux Noël!

COX, Edward Young.  THE ART OF GARNISHING CHURCHES AT CHRISTMAS and other Festivals. With photographs, lithographs, & wood engravings. Illustrating the original designs of several architects, and numerous antient examples. London: Cox & Son, Ecclesiastical Warehouse, 28 & 29, Southampton Street, Strand. [1868].       

8vo, pp. [viii], 68, [12] advertisements; with 27 lithograph and wood-engraved plates and including four plates of mounted albumin photographs; paper a little browned, with some occasional light foxing; in the original blue publisher’s cloth, ruled in blind and with ornate gilt design on upper cover, inner hinges starting but holding firm, head and tail of spine chipped and worn, joints splitting with small tear also at head of spine, rear cover a little soiled and cockled, extremities rubbed and bumped; with the signature of ‘Ms Cole, Christmas 1869’ on front paste-down.        £400

First edition of this attractive trade catalogue issued by the ecclesiastical warehouse run by Cox and Sons at 28, Southampton Street, and including 27 attractive plates ofwhich four are mounted albumin prints. The work is a most appealing and vivid reflection of the growing Victorian fascination with Christmas. The present copy is undated, with a second edition appearing in 1869 (with a dated preface) and a third, much expanded edition, in 1871. The book is a catalogue of wreaths, devices in evergreen, ever- lasting flowers and moss, with illuminated devices, designs for straw decorations, illuminated banners, and instructions for making temporary reredoses and wall diapers made of perforated zinc. A complimentary contemporary review of the work notes: ‘The practice of decorating our churches at certain seasons of the year, though never entirely abandoned, expecially in the rural districts, has of late greatly revived … The custom is a good one, if kept within moderate and judicious limits and we should regret to see it altogether set aside. Since its revival several books have appeared, the object of which is to afford such information as may lead to a proper and decorous use of floral and other ornament on principles truly aesthetic, while suited to ecclesiastical purposes. Mr. Cox, member of a firm well-known in clerical circles, has just issued one which will be found of great service to those who make it their business or their pleasure to aid in the work of decoration, which is certainly an art … His observations and suggestions are anti-controversial and thoroughly practical; the principles of the art are briefly and well discussed, and the rules for applying them clearly set forth. The book contains numerous illustrations of designs and methods, varying widely in character, and suited either to the most elaborately or the most simply decorated edifices’ (review in the Art Journal of 1868, p. 287).

   Gernsheim 416.