ONE OF 50 COPIES

Leaves out of the book of a country gentleman.

Oswestry, printed and sold by W. Price …, 1847

Folio (47,8 x 30,5 cm), pp. [6], 21, [1], with 32 sheets of plates (28 sheets mostly with double-page woodcut plates, the last 4 sheets with 8 engraved plates); Presentation copy (see below); some light scattered foxing here and there but a very good copy in contemporary half calf and marbled boards, spine rubbed.

£1950

Approximately:
US $2539€2180

Make an enquiry

First and only edition of this very rare privately published compilation by Parker of his mostly unpublished farm and estate experiments and inventions. This copy with bold mss. presentation by Parker on the front cover: ‘The Earl of Powis, From the Author’. The title-page informs that ‘A hundred Copies only were published – 50 for distribution, and 50 for sale at 10s. each’.

This is a collection of eclectic engineering inventions by Parker devised and designed ‘as they occurred during half a century to the present time’. Discussed, measured and illustrated are his take on Wine-Cellars; Inkstands with adjusting Floats; Quicksilver Level; Pumps; Strong Rails for pigsty; Latch and catches; Fireproof Stables; Slate Stairs; Limestone Mangers; Potato-House; and many many different gates, all varieties imaginable; Plans of Ice-Houses; Warming Buildings with Hot Water; Sections of Hanging and Falling Posts; Pump Wells; etc. The only previously published plates are those from his Essay on the Gates of 1804 (see above), however here Parker adds 2 plates ‘Elevation and Plan of Mile-Oak Turnpike Gate, engraved by J.W. Lowry, not before published’ which were from the original set of plates but were for some reason not published in 1804.

In his address to the Reader, Parker talks eloquently and wistfully about his work. ‘An amateur experimentalist or contriver is met by various difficulties on turning every corner in his proceedings, partly from the wan of a lively interest in the parties retained in the matter under notice, but chiefly, when an amateur makes a bargain with a tradesman for the public, the tradesman is apt to think that he would lessen his profits by going out of his old course’.

‘In conclusion, what I have to offer to the public is without any condition or reserve, and one is at full liberty to copy, alter, improve, make, and sell, any of the articles which I have endeavoured to describe, for his profit, or pleasure’ (p. [3]).

There is also an unillustrated Appendix with further detailed experiments and inventions, such as a Syphon Barometer (manufactured by Messr. Casella of Hatton Gardens, London, and specimens may be seen at the London Agricultural Society; or with the Seedsman, Richard Salter of Owestry). There is an account of the building of Parker’s Tower on Sweeny Mountain, which he had erected to employ labourers who needed work in 1817. There is practical advice how to deal with wasp nests, and how to built efficient wasp traps. The appendix is full of wry observations and advice by an enquiring engineering mind which in old age can look back on 50 years of experimentation and report on it. ‘The chamber floor of the offices of my house was laid with seasoned poplar boards in 1805, and are quite sound in 1847’ (p. 17); ‘About the year 1818, I built a cottage, in which I introduced cast-iron spars and wire instead of laths, and the chamber floor was made of cast iron beams and slate flags. This has not wanted any repair for the space of nearly 30 years: it would be difficult to set it on fire ‘(p. 18).

COPAC locates copies at the British Library, Cambridge, National Library of Scotland, National Trust, Oxford, and V & A Museum; OCLC adds copies at Yale, CCA, University of California, and Winterthur.

You may also be interested in...

MARINI, Giovanni Ambrogio.

The Desperadoes; an heroick History. Translated from the Italian of the celebrated Marini (the Original having passed ten Editions.) Containing a Series of the most surprizing Adventures of the Princes Formidaur and Florian … In four Books. Embellish’d with eight excellent Copper-Plates.

First and only edition in English of Le gare de’ disperati (1644), the second of three romances by Marini (1596-1668). Inevitably, ‘It was necessary to omit many Things that were contrary to our Morals; to Decency, and to the Purity of the English Tongue …’. But the general scheme of events is the same as the original, and is outlined on the title-page: ‘A Series of the most surprizing Adventures of the Princes Formidaur and Florian; the former being in love with Zelinda, whom he takes to be his own Sister; and the latter having married Fidalme, who he supposes to be his father’s Daughter by a second Wife, and afterwards kills in Disguise in single Combat. With a Relation of the various amazing Accidents, and Misfortunes, which happen thereon, until the Whole concludes with making them all happy, by a most extraordinary and uncommon Revolution.’

Read more

AUBREY, John.

Miscellanies, viz. I. Day-Fatality. II. Local-Fatality. III. Ostenta. IV. Omens. V. Dreams. VI. Apparitions. VII. Voices. VIII. Impulses. IX. Knockings. X. Blows Invisible. XI. Prophesies. XII. Marvels. XIII. Magick. XIV. Transportation in the Air. XV. Visions in a Beril, or Glass. XVI. Converse with Angels and Spirits. XVII. Corps-Candles in Wales. XVIII. Oracles. XIX. Exstasie. XX. Glances of Love / Envy. XXI. Second-Sighted Persons …

First edition of Aubrey’s entertaining collection of folk history, superstitions, and gossip, the only book he completed. The topics he tackles in this work of ‘hermetick philosophy’ include ‘omens and prophecies, dreams and apparitions, day fatality and second sight, all of which he was concerned to explore and explain, verify or discredit’ (Oxford DNB). It is a work rich in curious information: there are charms to cure agues or the bite of a mad dog, spells to summon a vision of your future spouse on St Agnes’ Eve, and advice on the interpretation of dreams.

Read more