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    Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World

    Sir Walter Ralegh, or Raleigh. The History of the World, in Five Books. The First, Intreating of the Beginning and first Ages of the same, from the Creation unto Abraham. The Second, Of the Times from the Birth of Abraham to the destruction of the Temple of Solomon. The Third, From the destruction of Jerusalem to the time of Philip of Macedon. The Fourth, From the Reign of Philip of Macedon, to the establishing of that Kingdom in the Race of Antigonus. The Fifth, From the settled Rule of Alexander's Successours in the East, until the Romans (prevailing over all) made Conquest of Asia and Macedon. By Sir Wlter Ralegh, Knight. London: Printed for Robert White, T. Basset, J. Wright, R. Chiswell, G. Dawes and T. Sawbridge, 1677. Folio (14.625 x 9.375 inches; 372 x 240 mm.). [2, "The Mind of the Front" (recto blank)], [2 title (verso blank)], 54 [i.e. 48, "The life of Sir Walter Raleigh"], [21, "The Preface"], [1, blank], [21, "The Contents"], [1, blank], 376, 393-480, 569-660, 577-708, 737-885, [1, blank], [2, "To the Reader"], [26, "A Chronological Table"], [18, "An Alphabetical Table"] pages. Text continuous despite pagination. Title-page printed in red and black. Added engraved title, dated 1676, signed: "Ren: Elstrack sculpsit" (Renald Elstrack); engraved frontispiece portrait of author, signed "Sim. Pass sculp." (Simon van de Pass) and "Comp. Holland inv." (Compton Holland); six folding engraved maps; two folding engraved battle plans; and three woodcut genealogical tables in the text (pages 54, 260, and on *4 verso in "The Chronological Table").
    Contemporary calf, neatly rebacked, with original spine laid down. Covers panelled in blind with floral corner ornaments incorporating the initials: I O W. Spine ruled and decoratively tooled in blind with five raised bands, dark leather label (partially lost) ruled and lettered in gilt, and with the date 1677 in gilt; board edges decoratively tooled in blind; edges stained red. Binding worn, with some surface loss on front cover; boards exposed at corners. Hinges reinforced with cloth tape. Endpapers browned at the edges from leather turn-ins. Lacking front free endpaper. The first three leaves browned and worn at the edges, with a small piece torn from outer margin of "The Mind of the Front" leaf, and with a vertical crease to the frontispiece portrait and title. Three-inch tear in the lower gutter margin of F3 in "The Contents of the Chapters;" a few additional short marginal tears or paper flaws. Small hole in the text on G2 (pages 51/52), with loss of a few letters; Iiii3 (pages 621/622), affecting a few letters; a few additional small holes. Intermittent marginal dampstaining or smudging; a few small stains. Large oval crease to the last six gatherings. A very good copy. Booklabel on front pastedown: "To Robert R. Sprague / Christmas 1954. / [flourish] / From Frank C. Mortimer." Early ink inscription at head of "The Life of Sir Walter Raleigh": "To Lieut. George [illegible]." Loosely laid in is a sheet with Bank of the Valley in Virginia One Dollar and Two Dollars Bills, uncut, verso blank.
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    "The success of Raleigh's History, which, apart from numerous abridgements, ran through ten editions between 1614 and 1687, can perhaps be explained by the very fact that it is not a work of history in the academic sense but a political tract of immediate applicability. Its author was listened to, not so much because he was a because he embodied all the glories of the reign of Elizabeth I, which at the time of publication had already begun to be transfigured into a golden age...Sir Walter Raleigh or Ralegh can be taken as the epitome of the Elizabehan idea of a courtier and politician, sailor and explorer, writer and poet, full of avid interest in philosophy and the sciences, who, with his sword and his pen, made his makr at court and in parliament, on the high seas and in economic enterprises at home and abroad...The reversal of Elizabeth's policy by James I encompassed Raleigh's ruin: imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1603 to 1616 on a trumped-up charge, he finally fell a victim to James's pro-Spanish inclinations, and the last Elizabethan died by the executioner's axe. During his confinement in the Tower...Raleigh conducted scientific experiments...wrote essays and verse, and brought out the History...Though intended to cover all history it reached only down to 130 B.C. A commonplace book (Phillipps 6339, now in the British Museum), only recently identified as Raleigh's, reveals another aspect of the History which to the present generation is perhaps of greater interest than those political implications on which the seventeenth century fastened: viz. Raleigh's perception that geography, 'the knowledge of the places wherein it [i.e. history] is performed' is fundamental to the right understanding of historical events" (Printing and the Mind of Man 117, describing the 1614 first edition).

    ESTC R33510. Wing (2nd ed.) R167.

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    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
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