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Life of Mayster Wyllyam Caxton, The
London: N.P., 1737. - First Book Length Biography of CaxtonOne of Only 150 Copies Printed[CAXTON, William]. LEWIS, John. The Life of Mayster Wyllyam Caxton, of the Weald of Kent; The First Printer in England. In which is given An Account of the Rise and Progress of the Art of Pryntyng in England, during his Time, till 1493. Collected by .London: N.p., 1737. First edition, one of only 150 copies printed, of the first extensive biography of William Caxton. Octavo (8 7/8 x 5 3/8 in; 225 x 135 mm). xxii, 156, [1, errata], [1, blank] pp. Engraved portrait frontispiece and two plates of Caxton's watermarks, headpiece, initial. Bound by F. Bedford (stamp-signed) in late nineteenth century full crimson hard-grained morocco with French fillets, gilt-ruled raised bands, gilt decorated and ornamented compartments, gilt-rolled board edges, gilt dentelles. All edges gilt. Bookplate of Phil. Shirley. A crisp and fine copy.Scarce in commerce, with only three copies at auction within the last thirty-seven years, the most recent fourteen years ago in 2000.Church of England clergyman and antiquary, John Lewis (1675–1747), was interested in the history of the English Bible, of printing, and in the antiquities of Kent, which he combined in the collections that he made for The Life of Wyllyam Caxton (1737). Lowndes and Brunet note that 150 copies were printed. Lowndes further notes that the portrait frontispiece of Caxton is "fictitious." Much of the work was later reprinted in Thomas Frognall Dibdin's edition of Ames's Typographical Antiquities. "Inv. Bagford" is engraved at the lower edge of the portrait of Caxton. It was not engraved by bookseller and antiquary John Bagford but is, rather, a portrait of Italian poet Il Burchiello (pseud. of Domenica di Giovanni, c. 1404-1447/49) from a 1554 edition of his poetry inaccurately copied as a portrait of Caxton, no authentic representation of his head extant. Lewis added the beard and the attribution to Bagford. "I meant no reflection on Bagford by having it engraved under Caxton's head.I had seen the same done by others, particularly under Wiclif's head in the History of the Council of Constance.The reason of which I was told was to shew that it was not done from any original picture" (John Lewis to Joseph Ames, as cited in Ames' Typographical Antiquities or the History of Printing in England, Vol. I, p. cxxix).Lowndes p.1353. Brunet III , 1039. Graesse IV, 191. ESTC T40961. [Attributes: First Edition]
      [Bookseller: David Brass Rare Books, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2014-03-24           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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