Sphere of Gentry

Sylvanus MORGAN

Item#: 70257 We're sorry, this item has been sold


MORGAN, Sylvanus. The Sphere of Gentry: Deduced from the Principles of Nature, an Historical and Genealogical Work, of Arms and Blazon: In Four Books. London: William Leybourn, 1661. Folio, contemporary full brown calf rebacked in period style, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, red morocco spine label.

First edition of this famous early treatise on the origins of heraldry by “one of the very maddest of the 17th-century heraldic writers” (Arthur Charles Fox-Davies), with wonderful additional engraved allegorical title page, 40 full-page engravings of heraldic subjects and numerous in-text symbols and diagrams. With the bookplate of 18th-century antiquarian William Cole. Beautifully bound.

“Sylvanus Morgan, one of the early writers on heraldry, and a gentleman gifted with a very vivid imagination, assigns the first coat armor to Adam, to whom he gives plain shield gules, over which, on an escutcheon of pretence, he bore the silver shield of his wife Eve. After the fall, he says our great ancestor placed upon his shield “a garland of fig leaves, which his son Abel quartered with argent, an apple vert, in right of his mother Eve.” As he makes no mention of Cain, we must naturally conclude that the antediluvian Herald’s College had refused to recognize his right to coat armor, probably on account of his unbrotherly conduct” (William Armstrong Crozier). In the second of his four parts, Morgan treats Joseph, with his coat of many colors, as ‘a publick person, conferring honours by Nobility Dative [famous for distinguishing oneself] to his brethren.’ Here he provides a curious heraldic design (Book II, 73) and a description of Joseph’s whole achievement— his coat being of three kinds: “the outmost being that of the gown, being cloth of gold lined with Ermine, Erminees, Erminiois, and Erminets; the next being that of the Cloak, accompanying him in all his adversities, being lined Vaire, Vairy, and Cuppa; the outside Purple; the third being the Mantle for his funeral, being mantled Sable, lined Argent.” “It is an easy stretch from this to the coats of arms that during the 17th century embellished the pedigrees of the English merchant class, and the seals and maps of the trading companies which were busily creating the British Empire” (Peter Hutchinson). Armorial bookplate of 18th-century antiquarian William Cole.

A classic of genealogy and heraldry, in fine condition and beautifully bound.

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