Item #264 Almanacks.
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
Almanacks
A Yearbook of Thirteen English Almanacs for 1688.

Almanacks

Thirteen almanacs printed at London and Cambridge for the year of calculation 1688, bound together as a yearbook, and tooled with the cipher of James II. English almanacs were first produced in 1557, when a royal charter to publish the booklets was granted to the Stationers' Company. The popular, inexpensive works, which were produced by the hundreds of thousands during the last two months of every year in London, Cambridge, Oxford, and in lesser numbers provincially (including the Colonies since at least 1647), were instrumental in molding the public's knowledge of and attitude toward popular astronomy and astrology in early modern England. The prime directive of the early English almanac was astronomical: it was a vade mecum to the stars and planets and how to interpret them as both stellar objects and as astrological heralds. As such, most almanacs contained significant information on eclipses, comets, astral positions, and phases of the moon, along with the worldwide sublunary effects of it all, from medical to climatic to sociopolitical. English almanacs were traditionally printed and sold in the months of October, November, and December preceding the salient year. It was customary for the Stationers' Company to bind up selections of unsold copies in the springtime, and sell them as reference works, known today as yearbooks, and tool the covers with the cipher of the reigning monarch. Many almanacs featured a crude woodcut of homo sigorum, the so-called Zodiac Man, most often accompanied by an explanation in verse of the relationship between the sectors of the sky and the parts of the body. Almanacs also contained copious judicial astrological predictions, but in addition readers could expect to encounter nativities, market-day calendars, interest tables, timber charts, announcements of upcoming publications, mercantile advertisements (often gilt with withering slanders of competitors), lists of post roads, tips for successful husbandry, chronologies of world events, jokes, fun facts, weather forecasts, and auguries of worldwide political calamity. Since at least 1664 almanac parodies had begun to appear, the most famous of which was Poor Robin, a bawdy lampoon composed in a dense, double-entendre-laden argot attributed by Sidney Lee in DNB to William Winstanley. Poor Robin invariably appeared as the final volume in late 17th- and early 18th-century yearbooks; our volume is no different. Our book also contains William Lilly's Merlini Anglici Junior, John Gadbury's Ephemeris, the anonymous Catholic & Protestant Almanack, Henry Coley's Nuncius Sydereus, Richard Saunders Apollo Anglicanus, Daniel Woodward's Vox Uraniae, William Davis's News out of the West from the Stars, William Andrews's News from the Stars; Dove's Speculum Anni, Edward Pond's Almanack, Vincent Wing's Olympia Domata, and John Partridge's Annus Mirabilis. Yearbooks, especially of the 17th century, are growing scarce, most having been absorbed into institutional collections, or broken and sold piecemeal. Ours is a good copy of an early English example, preserved in its original binding.

London and Cambridge: Various, 1687.

Octavos and one twelvemo, 152 x 105 x 48 mm (binding), 150 x 103 x 46 mm (text block). Contemporary maroon sheep gilt, unlettered, tooled in gilt on spine an board corners with James II's cipher; AEG. Some dampstaining to tail end of binding, extremities worn, front and rear endpapers wanting, second almanac standing a bit proud. Interior: Damp to tail and fore-margins, more pronounced in first two almanacs and diminshing towards end. The second almanac, a small 12mo, has been window mounted by the binder to extend the margins to the same dimensions as the other almanacs.

Provenance:

Late 19th-century gilt leather bookplate reading CAMBRIDGE beneath a crown; two contemporary manuscript index leaves bound before main text, scratched-out signature to head margin of first book; a modern penciled note to index leaf remarking that this was James II's own copy (unlikely).

ESTC nos: I: R407, II: R15691, III: R36746, IV: R15440, V: R25239, VI: R230105, VII: R24177, VIII: R14275, IX: R14233, X: R25875, XI: R24180, XII: R232258, XIII: R37006.

Item #264

Price: $5,200.00