This rare find has been in my private collection for years. I purchased it out of an estate in Atlanta in the late 1980s and have never seen anything quite like it since.
The book is dated 1883 and is 9 1/2" by 12". It's hard backed and has 330 pages, not including a delightful advertising section at the end.
To begin, the book is wonderfully illustrated from its front cover to the Victorian graphics at the end. The cover is blue with gold gilt in a detailed raised design. The busy designs repeat with a sunburst design across the top and a gold illustrated woman in proper Victorian attire. Across the cover is the following:
GALAXY OF SONG.
Popular Songs & their Composers
FAVORITE VOCALISTS & WELL KNOWN CONDUCTORS
When you turn to the title page, it is also marked "GALAXY OF SONG". Underneath that is "POPULAR SONGS, WITH COMPLETE ACCOMPANIMENTS FOR THE PIANO OR CABINET ORGAN AND THEIR COMPOSERS." Under that is "FAVORITE VOCALISTS AND WELL-KNOWN CONDUCTORS." Then is a small graphic logo of a little dog (bulldog I think), then "COPYRIGHT,1883, BY THOS. HUNTER."
The book is a treasure trove of late Victorian songs and biographies of their composers. Each songwriter has an incredible stone lithographed portrait, followed by a section of bigraphical sketches, then the actual songs and music. The portraits are of a quality suitable for framing, but I feel that to tear up the book would be a sin. They are highly detailed stone lithographs and are only done on one side of the paper.
The book starts with portraits of the women of this era. There are about 64 in all, about half of them women. The first page shows a picture of Adelina Patti along with a newspaper clipping about her. There are so many wonderful illustrations, I will list as many as I can.
Annie Louise Cary
Clara Louise Kellogg
Other names include Abbott, Winston, Sembrich, Roze, Thursby, Albani, Hauk, Valleria, Trebelli, Van Zandt, Osgood, Glenn, Geistinger, Winant, Beebe, Aimee, Juch, Campanini, Whitney, Santley, Henschel, Galassi, Capoul, Carleton, Karl, Zerrahn, Thomas, Damrosch, Rosa, Arditi, Gilmore, Gounod, Gabriel, Sainton-Dolby, Sullivan, Faure, Pinsuti, Abt, Blumenthal, Randegger, Cowen, Wellings, Buck, Tosti, Molloy, Gatty, Roeckel, Diehl, Mattei, Adams, Barri, Hatton, Sudds, Geibel, and Huntley.
Following are arrangements for about 120 wonderful old songs after bigraphical sketches of each composer. The book is simply incredible! I've never seen such a grouping of women like this, or composers for that matter. It's in remarkable condition for its age, though it does show wear. The edges are worn but the graphics are still vibrant and unfaded. Many of the pages are coming away from its binding also, and there's a place where the newspaper clipping and pin have turned the page dark.
With about 64 illustrations and over a 100 songs, this rare item is sure to excite the serious collector!