(London: Illuminated and published by A. Prichard Harrison and Son, ). 284 x 225 mm. (11 1/8 x 8 3/4").  printed leaves preceded by  leaves and followed by  leaves of illuminated manuscript. FIRST EDITION.
Handsome contemporary crimson straight grain morocco by C. Cross, Binder to the Queen (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper), covers with gilt French fillet border, raised bands flanked by multiple plain gilt rules, spine with gilt titling, turn-ins densely gilt, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. With illuminated gouache title page and dedication, EIGHT FULL-PAGE GOUACHE ILLUSTRATIONS (including a dramatic depiction of St. George slaying the dragon), AND 37 LEAVES EMBLAZONED WITH 726 COATS OF ARMS, ALL OF THE ILLUSTRATIONS DONE BY HAND AND HEIGHTENED WITH GOLD. Front pastedown with engraved armorial bookplate of Henry Drummond, and with a manuscript letter to Drummond from A. P. Harrison postmarked 1844 tipped in at front. ◆A few very faint scratches on back cover, the printed portion with faint overall browning because of paper stock used, otherwise A SUPERB COPY, the attractive binding quite lustrous and virtually unworn, and the illuminated portion with its brilliant colors and gold entirely intact.
This is an exceedingly rare and beautifully executed item that combines a printed list with a group of full-page paintings and the hand-painted arms (many of them minutely figured) of those personages who from its founding (by Edward III) in 1348 through 1844 had been elevated to membership in the Order of the Garter. Inclusion in this order of chivalry is the highest of the honors bestowed by the British sovereign and is restricted at any given time to just 24 persons. Members include those chosen for their distinctive services to the crown, as well as supernumerary members encompassing the British royal family and foreign monarchs. There are 719 members listed in the register here, and an additional seven knights and their shields are added on the final illustrated page of the register. In 2008, Prince William became the 1000th Knight of the Garter. The name of the order, according to tradition, is taken from an incident at the court of Edward III in which the Countess of Salisbury lost one of the garters holding her hose, to the amusement of onlookers. The king gallantly retrieved it and tied it to his own leg, chiding the courtiers, "Honi soit qui mal y pense" ("Shame upon him who thinks evil upon it"), which became the motto of the order. Our volume, in addition to depicting the coats of arms of all recipients of the order through 1844, contains full-page illustrations of the insignia of the order (a blue garter with the motto emblazoned in gold, encircling the arms of England and surmounted by a coronet), of St. George, patron saint of the Order and of England, slaying the dragon, the badge and collar worn by Knights of the Garter on formal occasions, a portrait of Edward III after that in St. George's Chapel, and a knight of the order in full regalia, including the garter worn below the left knee. This appears to be a most unusual item: we could find no copies listed in OCLC or ABPC, and only one in COPAC, the UK's National, Academic, & Specialist Library Catalogue. A later version was issued by publisher J.C. Hotten in 1872, but even that is located by OCLC in only six libraries. Our copy comes from the collection of (and may have been specially prepared for) Henry Drummond, English banker, politician, and writer whose related work, "Histories of the Noble British Families with Biographical Notices of the Most Distinguished Individuals in Each," was published by Pickering in 1842-46 in two giant folio volumes. (ST17129-034)