Cambridge: University Press, 1931. First Edition. Large 4to. Engraved frontispiece ("La belle ecriture demande un esprit gai"), xl, 226 pp. 81 plates. Original light-brown quarter cloth over decorated ("marbled") cloth boards (very small abrasion at tail of spine). Top edges gilt, others untrimmed. Dust-wrapper soiled and defective, inside lined with brown paper. Text, plates, and binding are in splendid state; a lovely copy. Very good. Item #3246
First edition, limited to 300 copies signed by the author, of the essential reference work on the history of English writing manuals -- still unsurpassed. Ours is copy 146 and is preserved in very fresh, unmarked condition.
This original edition is a fine specimen of Cambridge bookmaking and is much preferred over the ugly facsimile reprint (Olms, 1962) which disgraced the beauty of the 23 portraits of the writing-masters and the 58 plates of their copy-books and trade-cards (some of the plates present more than one example). The value of the present volume lies not only in the extensive biographies of the writing-masters, and the extremely detailed bibliographical descriptions of their work, but in Heal's long and insightful Preface, and Stanley Morison's discourse into "The Development of Handwriting."
"Mr. Heal has, in this scholarly and important book, proved his contention that his subject [English Writing-Masters] is of deep interest. Moreover, his admirable work is arranged in a manner very convenient for reference. It should prove of great value to students, and have some influence in increasing their number." (Review in "The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs," Vol. 61, No. 356 [Nov., 1932], pp. 239-240).
¶ This original edition is uncommon on the market; the last copy to appear at auction was Graham Pollard's which sold in 2013 at Bonham's London.