A Brief Account of the Holt Waters, containing one Hundred and Twelve eminent Cures, perform’d by the Use of the Famous mineral Waters at Holt, (near Bath) in Wiltshire … To which are added, Directions for drinking the Holt Waters, and some experimental Observations on the several Wells.

London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1731.

12mo., pp. [8], 155, [1], with an engraved frontispiece of the fountain and a folding plate (tear repaired) of the pump and well; ‘A List of several eminent Cures perform’d by the Holt Waters’ has a separate title-page; a very good copy in contemporary mottled calf, rebacked; nineteenth-century armorial bookplate of Thomas Watkin Forster.

£750

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A Brief Account of the Holt Waters, containing one Hundred and Twelve eminent Cures, perform’d by the Use of the Famous mineral Waters at Holt, (near Bath) in Wiltshire … To which are added, Directions for drinking the Holt Waters, and some experimental Observations on the several Wells.

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First edition. The waters from Bath, Bristol and Holt, in Wiltshire, were the most popular English mineral waters of the eighteenth century, in no small part due to the activity of Henry Eyre, ‘Sworn Purveyor to Her Majesty [Queen Caroline, wife of George II] for all Mineral Waters’. Eyre ran a distribution business across London and the South-west, selling both ‘the Foreign Waters as fresh and frequent as the distant situation of the Places will admit’ and ‘our own Mineral Waters fresh and good, viz. those of Holt, Bath and Bristol.’ Eyre’s account of the Holt waters contains passages from Boyle, Dr. Cheyne and one Rev. J. Lewis of Holt, and is followed by an extensive list of cases (scrofula, leprosy, ‘a stubborn Gleet’), and an appendix of documents relating to the present upkeep of the wells.

The work is dedicated to Edward Lisle of Holt Manor, proprietor of the waters; this copy bears the book plate of his descendant Thomas Watkin Forster, who inherited Holt Manor in 1822. ESTC lists eleven copies (National Library of Medicine, Yale and Huntington only in USA).

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FROM THE LOST LOGIE LIBRARY OF WALTER BOWMAN PERUCCI, Francesco.

Pompe funebri di tutte le nationi del mondo, raccolte dale storie sagre et profane.

First edition of Perucci’s extensively illustrated account of funeral practices, inscribed by a Scottish antiquary and documented book collector. A fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and later the Royal Society, Walter Bowman (1699 – 1782) travelled extensively over the course of five decades in Italy, where this book was most likely acquired, studying at the University of Padua for two years and accompanying Samuel Rolle, Simon Harcourt, and Francis Seymour-Conway as tutor on grand tours; his remarkably detailed notes on his travels and keen collecting survive, principally in the National Library of Scotland and the Biblioteca nazionale in Florence.

Bowman’s library is remarkably well recorded through two documents, an account book from 1754 to 1766 (Bod. MS Eng. misc. d. 808) detailing purchases from and auction bids with booksellers as well as bindings commissioned from Roger Payne, and his will of 1782 (National Archives PROB 11/1088/285) in which he left ‘singularly minute and whimsical directions regarding the arrangement and preservation of his fine library’ (DNB). The will writes that ‘in a long course of years both at home and abroad I have at a considerable expense and trouble collected an useful though small Library of Books in good condition with my Name on each in my own handwriting, on different Arts and Sciences of various kinds in the learned Languages, in French, Italian, and English’. Dying childless, Bowman left the library to his brother James, with ‘this express condition, that they be not sold, lent, or dispersed, in whole or any part whatsoever, but carefully and honestly preserved … for the sole use and benefit of my heirs .. and to go along with my Estate of Logie in the said County of Fife in Scotland’.

In addition to detailed provision for the transport (from Surrey to Scotland), ordering, and cataloguing of the library, Bowman’s lengthy instructions specify that the books were to be kept ‘dry, clean, and neat, sound and safe, free from dust, mustiness, damps, without … rats and mice and all other annoyances and corruptions, without being blotted, stained, torn, damaged’ and that ‘the Room wherein they stand shall be appropriated solely for reading, writing, and study and not for any other business, work, occupation, or fellowship whatsoever except where the cases are locked up … and that the said Books may suffer no damage and be maintained in their standing order the said Room shall be furnished with a clean table, water bason [sic], and towel for filthy hands and the [heir] himself shall give out every Book as it is wanted to be read and consulted and lock the same up again afterwards so perused in the same room without suffering any of them to be moved about or out of the house’.

Bowman’s library appears to have survived at least until the mid-nineteenth century, being described in Leighton’s History of Fife: ‘The library contains among others, many valuable editions of the ancient classics, particularly a fine edition of Pliny’s Natural History, and a splendidly illuminated edition of Ptolemy. It also contains a valuable collection of engravings; a great number of maps and charts, and a well preserved copy of Bleau’s Atlas. [The heir] … is bound to keep a suitable room for the library in his house, and to allow free access to it to the neighbouring gentlemen there to read and study … women and children are expressly prohibited from having access to the library.’ (Leighton, History of the County of Fife (1840) II, p. 50). No later record of the library’s survival could be traced, though Feather suggests the books may have been dispersed in Edinburgh after the Second World War.

In 1982 Feather wrote ‘I do not know the present location of any of Bowman’s books’. We have been able to trace six other books from Bowman’s library at auction: of these, the majority have been later rebound; only one other (Christie’s, 1998) survives unrestored and is in similarly questionable condition, suggesting Bowman’s efforts for the preservation of his once magnificent books may have been in vain.

USTC 4011567; cf. Feather, ‘Walter Bowman’ in The Book Collector vol. 31 no. 1 (Spring 1982, pp. 47-63.

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