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CRANE, John (c. 1750--1836)
[Poems by a bird at Bromsgrove. 1815?]
Poems. By a bird at Bromsgrove. Dedicated, without permission, to John Bull. Volume the first, perhaps the last.
Bromsgrove printed for Crane & Sons, booksellers, by G. Nicholson, & Co., Stourport, [1815?].
[4], 7--182, 189--226 p., [1] fold. frontis. advert., [1] pl. ; 15.9 cm. (16º)

Anonymous. 'A Bird at Bromsgrove' is the pseudonym of John Crane, a provincial shopkeeper and bookseller in Bromsgrove who began issuing pamphlets of his own verses from 1792. By around 1812 these pamphlets, six in number, were being collected in a made-up volume with the title Poems, by the Bird of Bromsgrove, the earliest copies of which retain the separate pagination of the items; by 1814 copies are paginated continuously (182 pp.), though at least initially still retaining individual title-pages. In or shortly after 1817 a 'Second Edition' of 232 pages was published, and the extent of the collection continued to grow until a 7th edition of 335 pages, which can be dated to 1825 on the evidence of the review in The Monthly Critical Gazette, 1 March 1825, pp 349--51. See H. Foster, 'Rhymes of a Provincial Bookseller', Antiquarian Book Monthly Review 5:1, January 1978, pp. 2--7; see also the John Cotton collection of material on Bromsgrove retained now at Birmingham Central Library. The Soane copy of the Poems, undated as are all traced copies, can be dated to 1815 by the inscription on the front free-endpaper (see copy notes below) and clearly represents an intermediate stage between items 8 (182 pp.) and 9 (232 pp.) in Foster's checklist, dated by him 1814 and 1817 respectively; it ends with verses on 'A Bit Of A Ramble'. None of the constituent parts in the Soane copy retain the separate title-pages the existence of which is suggested by cancel stubs, but items 'No.1', 'No.3' and 'No.4' are so indicated in the direction line. The frontispiece advertisement, found bound up with all the collections of Crane's poems, is of the nature of a shop bill in rhyming couplets laid out in the form of a church tower, starting with a couplet of one syllable 'I / Try,' at the top of the spire and adding a syllable to each new couplet to reach fourteen syllables, and with the main body of the church formed by three columns of octasyllables. At the head of the steeple is an engraved emblem depicting a crane and and a clock, with further octasyllable verse printed either side of the initial 'I'. The shop bill is found in three impressions: with printer's imprint of Swinney & Hawkins, Birmingham (from 1790), of Grafton & Reddell, Birmingham (from about 1802), and of G. Nicholson, Stourport as here (from about 1812). The crane reappears splayed on a gable in the engraved plate that prefaces 'The Apron Farmer'. In June 1815, Crane was a member of the Loyal Association of Volunteer Soldiers at the time of Waterloo.

Copy Notes Inscribed in ink on front free-endpaper 0/4/0 / John Soane / Bromsgrove / 10 June 1815. Soane Note Books 125: 9 June: Friday: Left Butterton Hall at 2 in Mr S'. car: to Trentham, from thence in chaises to Bromsgrove got there at 11. at night, slept at Wo, paid Cranes poems 4s / 10. Saturday. Coach to Bath .... Soane's designs made in 1809 for a substantial new house for Thomas Swinnerton at Butterton in Staffordshire were not executed, but a small farmhouse was built in 1815. (See Ptolemy Dean, Sir John Soane and the country estate, Aldershot 1999, p. 192.)

Binding Original C19th blue paper boards, white paper spine, printed paper spine-label reading 'Poems By The Bird Of Bromsgrove'.

Reference Number 1524


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