A Beautifully Preserved, Very Charming Traveller's Library of Reference Books, Including Johnson's Dictionary, All Boxed in Lovely Tree Calf

A COMPENDIOUS GEOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY [with] AN INTRODUCTION, EXHIBITING A VIEW OF THE NEWTONIAN SYSTEM OF THE PLANETS. [and] [MAIR, JOHN]. A COMPENDIOUS GEOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL GRAMMAR . . . EMBELLISHED WITH MAPS. [and] [JOHNSON, SAMUEL]. A DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE . . . TO WHICH IS PREFIXED A COMPREHENSIVE VIEW OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR.

(London: Printed for W. Peacock, 1813, 1802, 1812). 132 x 82 mm. (5 1/4 x 3 3/8"). 39, [1] pp., [200] leaves; xxviii, 408 pp., [4] leaves; engraved title page, xxiv pp., [132] leaves. Three separately published but related works, uniformly bound. Fourth Edition of the first work; Second Edition of the second work; "A New Edition" of the third work.

LOVELY CONTEMPORARY TREE CALF, smooth spines divided into panels with gilt rules and dotted roll, octagonal ornament at center, red morocco labels. IN THE ORIGINAL TREE CALF-COVERED WOODEN BOX designed to look like a book, "covers" with bead-and-floral gilt roll border, back divided into panels by gilt rules and dotted rolls, these with large central patera with floral extensions on each side, red morocco label lettered "Dictionaries." First work with eight folding maps outlined in color (world map, North and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and Polynesia) and a folding black & white diagram of the solar system. Second work with 13 folding maps outlined in color. Third work with frontispiece engraving of the statue of Dr. Johnson in St. Paul's Church. First work with neatly repaired half-inch tear to tail edge of one leaf, just touching last line of text (no loss), two tiny ink spots to margin of a leaf, last quire lightly foxed, the binding immaculate; second work with a couple minute nicks to boards, faint offsetting from one map; third work with two small abrasions to rear board (from catches on box), four quires somewhat foxed, intermittent light foxing elsewhere, but these very minor detractions from A CHOICE SET, its lustrous bindings with few signs of use, the text clean and fresh, and the folding maps in pristine condition.

This is a beautifully preserved and utterly charming traveller's library of three handy reference books, two on geography (one with a nod to cosmography), the other a pocket edition of Dr. Johnson's revered dictionary. The first work identifies continents, countries, and cities, in addition to offering a brief overview of the solar system, while the second work looks at the demographics, commerce, customs, religions, and geological features of various parts of the world. The tiny dictionary also contains a guide to grammar and "an alphabetical account of the heathen deities; and a list of the cities, . . . in England and Wales." Thus armed, the intrepid traveller could set off, confident of getting to places, knowing what to expect on arrival, and how to write eloquently about the excursion.

Handsomely bound and housed in a coordinating travel box made for Bond Street stationer Wranghams, this was an attractive and useful accessory for a youth on a Grand Tour or for a prosperous merchant. Whoever our original owner was, he (or she) found it perhaps too pretty to use, and left it safely home on a library shelf when heading out on adventures. While similar sets do appear on the market, ours has the distinction of being exceptionally pretty and exceptionally well-preserved.
(ST16467)