"VERY SCARCE": RICHARD BURTON'S BOOK OF THE SWORD, FIRST EDITION IN THE ORIGINAL CLOTH
BURTON, Richard F. The Book of the Sword. London: Chatto and Windus, 1884. Quarto, original pictorial gray cloth, largely unopened. $3200.
First and only edition of Burton's important illustrated history of the sword, in the original cloth.
Burton undertook this comprehensive history of the sword and its use during his final years, after his explorations were over. "The arme blanche, as he liked to call it, had always had a fascination for him since his youthful days on the continent. He collected a great deal of literature, and inspected the armouries of Europe and India. To his encyclopedic mind the subject began with the first weapon fashioned by the simian ancestors of man, started afresh with the invention of metallurgy (which he assigned to the Nile Valley), henceforth coincided with the history of military prowess until the introduction of gunpowder, finally ending with the duello when the sword became a defensive weapon" (DNB). "He was a fully qualified master [fencer], sufficiently pleased with his accomplishment to place his diploma after his name on the title page of The Book of the Sword. This was to be his great work, covering—in three volumes—the sword in all countries from the earliest times. The first volume… takes the reader over some 300 pages from the sword's origins to the early Roman Empire… he never got around to volumes 2 and 3" (Richard Cohen, By the Sword, xxii). "Very scarce" (Penzer, 107-08). Bookplate of Bernard Coleridge, the second Baron Coleridge, whose grandfather was the nephew of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Interior clean, minor toning to cloth. A near-fine copy, unusual in this condition.