Oxford: Printed at the Theater [...] by Roger Norton, for Edward Paulet, 1704. Large folio, pp. , 456; , 242, , 243-324, , with an engraved frontispiece and engraved title- page vignette, both by Van der Gucht; ‘The Whole Duty of Man’ and ‘The Second Part of the Works’ each have a separate title-page dated 1703 and 1704 respectively; some occasional light foxing. Extremely handsome binding of contemporary red morocco, gilt, to a cottage-roof design, onlaid corner-pieces of citron and a central lozenge of black morocco, all gilt with massed small floral tools, part-onlaid and part painted flower motifs (tulips, peonies and a distinctive and unusual poppy-head), spine gilt in compartments with further onlays, gilt, gauffered edges, striking endpapers of pulled paste paper in red, purple, green and yellow; some expert repairs along binding extremities, but an extraordinary copy. Item #2887
A superb inlaid Cottage-Roof bookbinding, executed for a woman by an as-yet unidentified English (or Irish?) craftsman of exceptional artistry and technical skill. Mirjam Foot has "possibly" linked our binding to two other examples, both considerably smaller, namely: 1). Mary Astell "Christian Religion," London, 1705, in the Henry Davis Gift (II, no. 155); 2). Old Testament, 1703 formerly in the J.R. Abbey Collection (G.D. Hobson, English Bindings of J. R. Abbey, no. 69 = his sale, 1967, Third Portion, lot 1687, now unlocated). We note with interest that the Henry Davis example was likewise bound for a woman collector (Elizabeth Berners) and features - on the fore-edge - a painted motto underneath the gold: "Proxii vera a vertuous woman is a crown to her husband 1705." We are not convinced that all three bindings were made by the same master craftsman, but if they were it would appear that the binder was active between 1703-1705, and that his best surviving work was undertaken on devotional works for female collectors.
¶ The provenance of our binding is compelling: contemporary (no doubt original) leather book-label of Mary Dorritt. In early 18th century, as now, this would have been a major acquisition for any collector, female or otherwise. --> Armorial bookplate of Alexander Montgomery, apparently Adm. Sir Alexander Leslie Montgomery, R.N., 3rd Bart. (1807-1888); the blazon is: quarterly, 1 and 4, azure three fleurs-de-lys or; 2 and 3, gules three annulets or, gemmed (i.e. gem-rings) two and one. Crest: on a wreath, a dexter arm in armor embowed, grasping a broken tilting-spear proper. Motto: "Gardez bien." A very similar blazon is given by heraldic authority Fox-Davies, in: "Armorial Families: a Directory of Gentlemen of Coat-Armour" (Vol. 2, p. 1383) and is assigned by him to the Montgomery family which resided at The Hall, Mountcharles, COUNTY DONEGAL, IRELAND. On the death of Henry Conyngham Montgomery, Jr., 2nd Baronet Montgomery (1803-1878), Alexander inherited the title as 3rd Baronet. --> Sotheby's May 21, 1900 lot 938 (£42 to Tregaskis), wherein it was described thusly: "A most elaborate specimen of English bibliopegy of the period, binding evidently the work of Charles Mearne or one of his house, as the little leather bookplate is unquestionably the work of a binder and is of the same period. It is one of the finest specimens of English binding which has been offered for sale for many years." --> Maggs Cat. 489 (1927) item 159 (£63) with reproduction --> Maggs Cat. 572 (1932) item 113 (£63) with reproduction --> Maggs Cat. 594 (1934) item 427 (£63) with reproduction --> Maggs Cat. 603 (1934) item 1942 (£45) with reproduction --> Maggs Cat. 640 (1937) item 139 (£52.10) with reproduction --> Maurice Burrus.
¶ A very attractive copy of the collected works of, most probably, Richard Allestree, first published by his friend and biographer Bishop John Fell in 1684. "The Whole Duty of Man" (1657) was a publishing phenomenon, a best-selling manual of "common-sense advice pitched at the level of ordinary Anglican parishioners" (Oxford DNB), of which Allestree is by far the most likely candidate as author. Six further works published as by the same author appeared up to 1678, and all of them are collected here.