JACOBITE PRINTER AND FRIEND OF SWIFT

An impartial History of the Life, Character, Amours, Travels, and Transactions of Mr. John Barber, City-Printer, Common-Councilman, Alderman, and Lord Mayor of London. Written by several Hands.

London: Printed for E. Curll … 1741

8vo., pp. viii, xxxi, [1], 48, 32, xvi, with a frontispiece portrait; occasional slight foxing, ink splotch on C5, but a very good copy, disbound.

£650

Approximately:
US $724€739

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An impartial History of the Life, Character, Amours, Travels, and Transactions of Mr. John Barber, City-Printer, Common-Councilman, Alderman, and Lord Mayor of London. Written by several Hands.

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First edition. A fine specimen of the sort of obituary pamphlet issued by Edmund Curll almost immediately after the death of notable public figures.

The printer John Barber (c.1675-1741) was a friend and correspondent of Swift for many years, and a friend of Pope (there are bequests to both in his will). His business prospered when the Tories came to power in 1710 and he secured lucrative contracts as printer of the London Gazette and printer to the South Sea Company. He became involved in City politics as an alderman in 1722 and as Lord Mayor in 1732-3 when he led the City’s opposition to Walpole’s Excise Bill.

This fascinating account of the printer and his circle is, as often with Curll biographies, both entertaining and chaotic, stuffed with documents, affidavits, and interesting scraps from various quarters (Curll placed advertisements for information in the Daily Advertiser), printing several poems of varying relevance, and, of course, Barber’s will. The preface dismisses a rival biography. The author of the principal narrative section may have been Matthew Pilkington.

Paul Baines & Pat Rogers, Edmund Curll Bookseller (2007), pp. 296-9; Bigmore and Wyman, Bibliography of Printing, I, p. 34 (‘curious, and scurrilous’).

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