(Southwerke: by my Peter Treueris at ye expences of Iohn Reynes boke seller at the sygne of saynt George in Poules chyrchyarde, 16 May 1527). 303 x 208 mm. (11 7/8 x 8 1/8"). 49 (of 50) p.l. (lacking blank 2h6), CCCxlvi,  leaves.Translated by John Trevisa. Edited and with a continuation by William Caxton. Third--and First Illustrated--Edition.
Late 18th century diced russia, expertly rebacked to style, flat spine divided into compartments with either calligraphic flourish centerpiece or repeating rows of scallops, red morocco label, turn-ins with gilt pentaglyph and metope roll, marbled endpapers. Title page and last page with publisher's device of John Reynes (Saint George slaying the dragon, McKerrow 55), full-page woodcut of a battle, nine smaller woodcuts (from six blocks) in the text, depicting generic knights and princes. Title page printed in red and black. Front pastedown with engraved bookplates of Thomas Amyot and Henry B. H. Beaufoy; ink signature of William Butler on title and last page. STC 13440; Pforzheimer, 490; Grolier "Langland to Wither" 121.
Corners somewhat bumped, minor scuffing to boards, but the attractively rebacked binding quite sound. Leaves washed and pressed, with occasional light browning, minor stains or smudges, and isolated rust spots, printing error on one page affecting a couple of words, otherwise an excellent copy, generally clean and crisp, and with exceptionally wide margins.
This is the most influential chronicle in 14th and 15th century Britain. It was written in the 1320s by Benedictine monk Ranulf Higden (ca. 1299-1364) of Chester, translated to English in 1387, and first printed by Caxton in 1480. According to DNB, the work "offered to the educated and learned audience of fourteenth-century England a clear and original picture of world history based upon medieval tradition, but with a new interest in antiquity, and with the early history of Britain related as part of the whole." The work was originally divided into seven parts (for the seven days of creation in Genesis), and ended coverage of events in 1342. John Malvern (d. ca. 1414) added a final book covering the years 1348-81; this addition was translated by Caxton and added to his 1482 edition. DNB speculates that our printer Peter Treveris (fl. 1525-32) may have been an immigrant, as were many early London printers, or he may have come from a Cornish family named Treffrey (sometimes spelled "Treveris"). At his workshop in Southwark, he issued some 30-40 books, chief of which, in the eyes of DNB, was the present "handsome" edition. He was also responsible for Brunschwig's "Noble Handiwork of Surgery," the first printing of the influential "Grete Herball," and John Skelton's "Magnyfycence," but DNB notes that the "Polycronicon" is the most attractive of his works. Plomer reports that "Treveris also shared with Wynkyn de Worde most of the printing of Richard Whittington's scholastic works." The present edition is the penultimate printing of "Polycronicon" recorded by ESTC, and is the only printing of the complete work not published by Caxton or his successor, Wynkyn de Worde. Complete copies of any edition are scarce. Former owner Thomas Amyot (1775-1850) was a lawyer, antiquary, and Fellow of the Royal Society, who, DNB notes, "was always ready to encourage young historians by giving them access to his large and valuable library and by introducing them to others who might be influential in their careers." Another owner, Henry B. H. Beaufoy (1786-1851), was a well-known enthusiast of hot air ballooning, as well as a bibliophile whose impressive library included all four Shakespeare folios. (CBJ1704)
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PJP Catalog: SE19BF.052