My Lady’s Casket of Jewels and Flowers for Her Adorning. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1885.
This book was made for gift-giving, and we at AAS were thrilled to have received such a stunning color plate book as a gift ourselves – along with many similarly gorgeous volumes – from Joanne Gill. An excellent example of the apex of chromolithographic technique and at the nadir of the holiday gift book tradition, this small oblong quarto format in a decorated cloth binding was offered by publishers Lee and Shepard as a Christmas gift book. The volume was illustrated by Eleanor W. Talbot with sixteen chromolithographic plates (two with movable doors revealing hidden illustrations behind) that illustrated articles of a woman’s toilette. Each plate was accompanied by an appropriate selected text – usually verses from a famous poet such as Shakespeare – ascribing a symbolic meaning for that article of a woman’s toilette. For instance, the “Best Eye Water” was described as “These drops the poor and wretched can supply / They add fresh lustre to the brightest eye” and the answer was “compassion’s tears.”