[ The Pope and the Crinoline: a satire on the Roman Catholic Church and Victorian women's fashion, printed anastatically. ] The Decline and Fall of [ the crinoline; ladies' hoops ] in The Roman Empire.

Cowell's Anastatic Press (S. H. Cowell, proprietor) [ the Roman Catholic Church; Victorian ladies' fashion; the crinoline; Suffolk printing ]
The Decline and Fall of [Hoops]
Publication details: 
Cowell's Anastatic Press, Ipswich. [1860]
SKU: 20760

An intriguing light satire on women's fashion and the Roman Catholic church, with charming illustrations. It consists of a stitched 4to booklet of 24 leaves, in red printed wraps, with 24 anastatically-printed pages on the rectos of the leaves, each page with illustration and engraved text beneath, numbered at the head in roman numerals, 1-XXIV. (Anastatic printing was a short-lived transfer lithography method for making facsimiles, a forerunner of photocopying.) In fair condition, aged and spotted, somewhat loose in creased worn wraps with spine worn away. Quirky modern bookplate of 'Edward J' ('anastatic printing') on front pastedown. The title is printed in black on the dark-red front cover, enclosed in an ornate design, strongly influenced by the Italian devotional printing of the period. The title reads: 'The | Decline and Fall | of | [illustration of three crinolines, dangling from a bishop's crosier and cross ] | in | The | Roman Empire'. The entry for the only other copy traced on OCLC WorldCat or COPAC, at the British Library, supplies the word '[crinoline]', for the illustrations of the three crinolines in the title. D. B. Heath, on reprinting this item in 2001, inserts '[ladies' hoops]'. The narrative is presented in the style of children's story. One day the pope sends for two priests and announces that he hears 'that there be hoops worn of dames & damsels, throughout the Catholic world, which be not decorous, but evil intentions to the upsetting of chairs, & occupying of much space in holy worship'. When one of the offending crinolines is procured for the Pope and modelled in an unsatisfactory manner by 'a young deacon, and shy', the pope exclaims 'Truly this hoop appeareth to be of a dangerous nature - but go get thee to St Peters, & fetch me one more expert in wearing of the same.” Then a priest ran and fetched the Marchese Folderolo & Tralappini'. After further incidents a young Abbé is examined by the Pope: 'At last the Abbé arose - “Holy Father” said he - “for years my confessional hath been thronged by ladies of surpassing rank & piety & be-a-u-ty” - here the young priest's voice failed him - “Alack a day”, quoth the Pope “what a weak lad it is – well & what then”? Shouted he. [“]And now” said the young priest” - none but the poor come and such I pay another for shriving”. “How is that” said the Pope - “How can they – they – come” sobbed the young priest, “their beauty increases, their piety – ahem – remains – but – oh! Those hoops” - Then the Pope understood that no dames or damsels wearing hoops could enter the confessional & receive holy benediction & fatherly advice, & his anguish of mind increased. So he set to work to cure the evil.' The story ends with autos-da-fé of the crinolines 'in all the principal piazzas'. There are a few clues to the identity of the author on the title-page. In a diamond to the left of the title are the initials 'LM', and to the right the date September 1860 and the intials 'TW'. Beneath the title is a banner with obscured text. Another clue to the identity of the author appears to come from Item 76 in the October 2011 catalogue of Ken Spelman of York. This is what appears to be the manuscript of the present item, titled 'The Decline and Fall of the Crinoline in the Roman Empire', described as a 'curious and comic illustrated work which relates the story of the Pope’s concern over the fashion for crinolines [...] which stops women from entering the confessional, and causes them to disturb furniture &c.' The Spelman manuscript is on 39pp., with '19 mounted pencil drawings, in a contemporary black leather notebook, with the printed label of W. Carson, Bookseller & Stationer, 51 Grafton-St, Dublin, on the inner front board', and the firm speculates that it is 'a Catholic satire, possibly written by an Irishman'.