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The General Contents of the British Museum - (POWLETT, Edmund) - 1762. [1229579]
xxiii, [1], 210, [30]pp, half title. 12mo. Some light browning, but a v.g. clean copy. Full contemporary sprinkled calf, gilt ruled borders, raised & gilt banded spine, red morocco label; expert repairs to joints & corners. Armorial bookplate of Strathallan, contemporary signature on front endpaper of S.M. Savage dated 1762, with a number of manuscript corrections and observations to the text.ESTC T40549. The second printing of the first English guide to the British Museum. Although listed in ESTC under the publisher's name, the work is by Edmund Powlett who writes in his preface that "among the numbers whom curiosity prompted to get a sight of this collection, I was of course one; but the time allowed to view it was so short, and the rooms so numerous, that it was impossible, without some kind of directory, to form a proper idea of the particulars: and though I was far from being unacquainted with most of the contents before they became the property of the public, must confess myself to have been at some loss in this respect. The Officers, indeed, were always extremely attentive; but it was still impossible for them to gratify every particular person's curiosity". Although his guide ran into a second edition, it was sold at bookshops and not at the Museum, and not everyone knew of it. Carl Philip Moritz, who visited the Museum in June 1782, had Wendeborn's guidebook, and to the scornful astonishment of the librarian when the rest of the tour saw that he "had this book they gathered round me and I taught these English ... what they might see in their own museum!" (Ref: D. Cash. Access to Museum Culture. The British Museum from 1753 to 1836.) Oxford University Press, Notes and Queries, 1911, records that Powlett sold a half share in the profits of 500 copies of the first edition of 1761 to the publisher James Dodsley for eight guineas. A similar sum was to be paid in the event of a second edition of 750 copies being printed. The writer, William White, notes that "an agreement to this effect now before me affords the first identification of its author". 'S.M. Savage' may be Samuel Morton Savage, 1721-1791, nonconformist minister and dissenting tutor who ran a private academy in Hackney, London. He also amassed a large library.
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Last Found On: 2016-10-16           Check availability:      PBFA    


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