The Antiquities of Berkshire. With A large Appendix of many Valuable Original Papers, Pedigrees of the most considerable Families in the said County, and a particular Account of the Castle, College, and Town of Windsor.
Imprint: London, W. Mears, at the Lamb with-out Temple-Bar, and J. Hooke, at the Flower-de-Luce against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleetstreet, 1723
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Octavo, three volumes (200 x 125 mm. each), full contemporary mottled calf, gilt panelled, ornate spine with raised bands, gilt ruled compartments with ornate designs, with gilt volume numbers and remains of red calf title label to 1 volume, lightly worn, otherwise in good condition. pp. (2), cxxviii + 194; (2), 195-580 ; (2), 428, with large folding county map incorporating view of Windsor Castle in volume 1; genealogical tables paginated within the text of volume 3, of which 11 are folding; engraved vignette on p. 331 of volume 3, woodcut title vignettes and tailpieces. In good condition.
The first published history of the county of Berkshire. Elias Ashmole (1617–1692) was an astrologer and antiquary and appointed to the College of Arms as Windsor Herald of Arms in Ordinary in 1660. Ashmole is however better known as an antiquary. He catalogued the Tradescant collection, the earliest recorded catalogue of what would become known as an English ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. At about the same time he met William Dugdale the antiquary. Ashmole’s own notable collection of curiosities were given to Oxford University on the condition that they house them appropriately. In 1683 the Ashmolean Museum opened, it was the first public museum in modern Europe. In the 1660s he began collecting information for a history of the county of Berkshire but it was not to be published during his lifetime. The first edition was in 1719, this is the revised second edition with pp. 516-517 of vol. 2 correctly numbered. The superb folding etched map by Wenceslaus Hollar was engraved for John Overton in 1666. It is a copy of that by John Speed in 1611 reduced in scale. Hollar’s distinctive etching style shows most in the prospect of Windsor Castle (which contains Hollar’s etched signature) and the illustrations of the dress of the Knights of the Garter. John Overton (1640-1713) was the son of a bookseller Henry Overton and married the daughter of the publisher William Garrett. He was a printseller who in 1665 acquired the stock of Peter Stent who died of the plague that year and who had arguably the largest collection of prints on the market at the time. Amongst this stock he found twelve copper plates of the English counties by William Smith. These formed the nucleus of a set of maps of the English Counties. Overton commissioned the engraving of some new plates for missing counties; amongst them is this one of Berkshire. Those counties which Overton could not provide from his own stock were supplied by the acquired maps of Speed, Blaeu or Jansson. These county atlases were an English version of a rich seam of similar Dutch composite atlases published from the mid-seventeenth century. They are exceedingly rare surviving in just five known examples. Provenance: Anderson p. 50; Burden 14.ii; ESTC T140220; Pennington (1982) no. 658.ii (not recognising this issue); Skelton (1970) 89; refer Upcott p. 9.