"THE INCOMPARABLE ARMOURY" (SIR WALTER SCOTT): FIRST EDITION OF MEYRICK'S ANTIENT ARMOUR, WITH 70 MAGNIFICENT HAND-COLORED FOLIO PLATES
MEYRICK, Samuel Rush. A Critical Inquiry into Antient Armour, As It Existed in Europe, But Particularly in England, from the Norman Conquest to the Reign of King Charles II, with a Glossary of Military Terms of the Middle Ages. London: John Dowding, circa 1832. Three volumes. Folio (11-1/2 by 15-1/2 inches), modern three-quarter crimson morocco gilt, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. $6000.
Early edition—issued sometime after the 1824 first edition, but preceding the 1842 revised "second" edition—of Meyrick's beautifully illustrated work on arms and armor, in three folio volumes with 70 richly hand-colored plates, ten etched plates, and 27 brightly illuminated and hand-colored historiated initials. "Practically the first on the subject… [one that] remains an authority."
Antient Armour established noted English collector Samuel Meyrick as the leading authority on the topic. He was asked to arrange the national collection of arms and armor in the Tower of London and, at the behest of George IV, at Windsor Castle. The text that accompanies Meyrick's splendid illustrations is still valued as a primary source on the history and evolution of European armor. "This most superb archeological work is animated with numerous novelties, curious and historical disquisitions, and brilliant and recondite learning… Plates as fine as the monuments of Westminster Abbey. Really and truly the work is admirably executed, and deserves every eulogy" (Edinburgh Review, quoted in Lowndes). Includes a glossary of military terms. Each volume with engraved and letterpress title pages, bearing publisher John Dowding's undated imprint. The printer of this edition, Walter Spiers, was active at his 399 Oxford Street address from 1827-39 (flourishing from 1832-39), so presumably this edition was printed and issued by Dowding at that time, after the 1824 first edition published by Robert Jennings, but before Henry Bohn's 1842 official "second" edition, with Meyrick's textual revisions. Lowndes, 1541. Shelf stamps to versos of letterpress title pages.
Occasional light foxing, the odd marginal smudge. Modern morocco bindings fine. An attractive copy of this fascinating work.