Condition & Materials
First edition. 3 vols. 8vo. pp. cxxviii, 194; [ii], 195-580. [ii]; [ii] 428 + folding portrait frontispiece of Ashmole to volume 1, engraved by Michael van der Gucht after William Faithorne; plate of miscellaneous antiquities (axe-heads etc) in volume 3, and 2 folding maps: Wenceslaus Hollar’s ‘A new map of Barkshire’ featuring a finely engraved view of ‘Ye South Side of Windsor Castle’, engraved in 1666 for John Overton (see Skelton, County Atlases, 89), sheet size 37.8 x 50 cm’ black and white, close trimmed, blank verso; Hollar’s map is derived from John Speed’s county map (though featuring his own distinctive style, particularly apparent in the view and the two knights of the Garter which stand on either side).
John Overton and his son Henry acquired the original Speed copper printing plates, and our copy has been supplied with an additional map, an example of Speed’s Berkshire carrying Henry Overton’s imprint, sheet size 39.6 x 51 cm, original hand colour in outline, close trimmed, blank verso; after 100 years of use the Speed plates were somewhat worn, so colour was often applied to compensate for weakness in the impression, and the Overtons updated the maps by adding the major roads.
There is slight worming in the lower margin of volume one, not affecting letters of text, and scattered spotting, most noticeable in volume three. Contemporary gilt-ruled sprinkled calf, light wear to extremities, maroon morocco lettering pieces, volumes numbered direct in gilt. Elias Ashmole was appointed Windsor Herald in 1660, at the Restoration, and was soon engaged in collecting information for this work. Although it was published by Edmund Curll (at the respectable end of the output of a colourful, often disreputable book-trade figure) almost thirty years after Ashmole’s death, it is the first county history of Berkshire and demand was such that it was swiftly reprinted, in 1723.
Upcott, English Topography I, p. 9; ESTC T140219.