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The Institution, Laws.. of the Order of the Garter

 
The Institution, Laws.. of the Order of the Garter by ASHMOLE, Elias [Thomas Povey] (1672)

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Author: ASHMOLE, Elias [Thomas Povey]
Title: The Institution, Laws & Ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter
 
Year: 1672
Publisher: J Macock for Nathanael Brook
Place: London
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
 
Price: £6500
 
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[12] pp 130, 135-136, 149-720 [104] [38] plates. Splendidly bound and inscribed presentation copy given by the author Elias Ashmole to another founder member of the Royal Society: 'For the deservedly honor'd Thomas Povey Esq.r from his humble servant E. Ashmole/'. Magnificent large folio volume in dark speckled calf that follows closely the design of Ashmole's own copy which appears in John Riley's portrait of Ashmole hanging in the Ashmolean Museum. Six spine compartments alternating elaborate gilt lozenge designs with panels of gilt foliage, notably widely opened tulips. The red morocco label shown in Riley's portrait has darkened here to a brownish colour, with gilt lettering. The spine has been relaid with old repairs to the outer hinges. Ashmole's dedicatory inscription to his friend appears on the second blank end-paper, preceding the imprimatur. An earlier owner has mounted a reproduction of the Riley portrait on the front paste-down and a history of the book opposite, including its sale at Sotheby's in 1958. The edges of the text block are marbled. Sherwin's engraving of Charles II which follows the title page comes from a smaller copy. The book collates complete with 38 leaves of plates - more than called for. These comprise the frontispiece, 15 folded plates including Wenceslaus Hollar's magnificent images of Windsor Castle and 22 single page plates, the armorials being printed back to back. A single manuscript emendation has been made to the text, probably by Ashmole himself when he collated the volume's plates before binding: he has added the '2' to the signature 'Uu2'. By the time of the publication of this volume Ashmole was already a wealthy man and his first presentation copy went to the king, 'richly bound' in Aubrey's words. There were also presentation copies like this one given to foreign royalty who were members of the Order of the Garter which elicited generous reciprocal gifts to Ashmole himself. Thomas Povey is a known correspondent and friend of Ashmole who was, with his friend, one of the first intake of Fellows of the Royal Society. A London merchant-politician, Povey was active in colonial affairs from the 1650s, but neutral enough in his politics to be named a member from 1660 of Charles II's Council for Foreign Plantations although he was bought out of the post in 1668 - both Pepys and the Governor of Virginia railed against his incompetence in the role. It was Povey who proposed Pepys for membership of the Royal Society in 1665. Ashmole is remembered as a collector of genius, an antiquarian with interests both mystical and scientific who assured his own posthumous reputation with the gift of his collections to found the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
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