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English History

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  • The Constitution of England or An Account of the English Government – J.L. De Lolme – 1777 (Once the Property of First Fleet Ship Owner – Sir William Curtis 1st Baronet of Cullands Grove).

    The Constitution of England or An Account of the English Government – J.L. De Lolme – 1777 (Once the Property of First Fleet Ship Owner – Sir William Curtis 1st Baronet of Cullands Grove).

    Published by Kearsley, Fleet Street and Ridley, St James Street, London in 1777

    Octavo, 404 pages, bound in full “’tree” calf with gilt decoration to the borders of front and back boards, gilt decoration to spine, black leather title label, maybe later. A beautiful example. Bookplate of first owner, Sir William Curtis Baronet to front paste-down. A few marks around the title otherwise a very good if not better copy.

    An 18th Century classic first published in Holland in 1771. Highly praised by Bentham who compared it with the distinguished work of Blackstone. John Louis de Lolme was born at Geneva in 1740 and arrived in England in 1769 where he began studying its Government intrigued by the peculiarity of the system. After a year he began his book … it was complete within another year and published in French as we say in Holland. Seemingly, it was pirated by unknown parties and a poor translation appeared with booksellers in England. De Lolme had the book withdrawn (it cost him a princely sum) and published this translation assisted by Baron Maseres who had been in England for many years and had Chambers at the Temple Bar.

    The work enjoyed a high reputation and appeared at a time that Constitutional matters were being vigorously debated. Written in an easy style the book flatters the national pride by representing England as the only country where Government was strong and free. Reviewers thought the work contained many shrewd observations on political affairs and contained genuine original thought.

    The first owner Sir William Curtis (1752-1829) was an English businessman, banker and politician. Born in Wapping the son of a sea-biscuit manufacturer who supplied the Navy (money in that!). He became a Member of Parliament for the City of London in 1790 holding the seat for 28 years. For a period, he was also the Lord Mayor of London. He was made 1st Baronet of Cullands Grove in 1802. He later declined a Peerage.

    Of very special interest is that, from his amassed wealth Sir William was owner of several vessels, one being the Lady Penrhyn which, on its first voyage, participated in the Arthur Phillip’s First Fleet and carried 101 female convicts to Botany Bay, New South Wales. The ship went on into the Pacific and named Curtis Island, a new discovery after its owner.

    Fine 18th Century Constitutional Review – Once the Property of First Fleet Ship Owner – Sir William Curtis.


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  • First Fleet Journal – An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales etc – David Collins – First Edition 1798

    First Fleet Journal – An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales etc – David Collins – First Edition 1798

    Full title … An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, with Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manners etc of the Native Inhabitants of That Country, to which is Added some Particulars of New Zealand from the MSS of Lieutenant Governor King

    A first edition published by T. Cadell Jnr and W Davies, The Strand, London 1798.

    Quarto, bound in half calf over marbled boards. Gilt title on separate red leather title label, gilt decorations to compartments between five raised bands. 680 pages complete including list of plates at rear which someone has ticked off. Frontispiece chart, 18 copper engraved full page plates (magnificent), a further 4 engraved illustrations within the text and a large folding chart. Very little wear and a very good copy aside from some foxing on pages close to the engravings.

    This account is the last published of the First Fleet Journals. In its content and style it represents the earliest history of Australia as an English Colonial settlement … the others being more personal narratives. This is the first edition published 1798 as a single volume with the fine engravings taken from water colours by Edward Dayes who in turn took them from drawings by convict artist Thomas Watling. A second volume or was later published in 1802 with an update on the intervening period. This second volume is extremely scarce.

    David Collins was Secretary to First Governor Arthur Phillip. At an early age he had joined the Marines and had seen action in the American War of Independence. In 1786 he volunteered for the First Fleet as Deputy Judge Advocate in the Marines. After two years instructions were received that the Marines were to return to England. Collins decided to remain at some personal cost. On Phillip’s departure in 1792 he stayed and helped hold the fort until Hunter arrived in 1795. Collins left the next year and two years later this account was published. From his central role he was in the perfect position to chronicle the events at the Colony as they unfolded.

    Goings on at Norfolk Island are included and the engraving of the township Sydney on Norfolk Island is particularly well done.

    The frontispiece chart comprises the Three Harbours of Botany Bay, Port Jackson and Broken Bay and the cultivated grounds in and around the different settlements, with the Course of the Rivers Hawkesbury and Nepean, and the situation of the wild cattle to the westward.

    The fine full page views include … the Governor’s House at Rose Hill; by Water to Paramatta with a distant view of the Western Mountains; Eastern view of Sydney; Western View of Sydney Cove; Direct South View of Sydney; South East View of Sydney including the Church; North View of Sydney Cove; The Brick Field, or High Road to Parramatta; View of Sydney in Norfolk Island;

    There is also an unusual folding chart of New Zealand drawn by Too-gee.

    Of further interest is Collin’s sympathetic comments regarding the aboriginal people and his lengthy Appendix is a special work in itself … he covers their Government and Religion; Stature and Appearance; Habitations; Mode of Living; Courtship and Marriage; Customs and Manners; Superstitions; Diseases; Property; Dispositions; Funeral Ceremonies and Language. The nine full size engraved plates, detailing the initiation of young men and the custom of the removal of a front tooth, are extra special and represent the very first ethnographically accurate portrayal of the Aboriginal inhabitants of the Sydney region.

    Collins First Fleet Journal – First Edition 1798


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  • British Malaya – Frank Swettenham – 1907

    British Malaya – Frank Swettenham – 1907

    A first edition published by John Lane The Bodley Head, London in 1907. A very good copy.

    Full title … “British Malaya and Account of the Origin and Progress of British Influence in Malaya by Sir Frank Swettenham, KCMG, late Governor of the Straits Colony, High Commissioner for the Federated Malay States with a Specifically Compiled Map, Numerous Illustrations Reproduced from Photographs & a Frontispiece in Photogravure.

    Thick octavo, 354 pages after preliminaries. The charming frontispiece and a further 53 illustration. The large coloured folding map complete albeit repaired with old tape. Original deep yellow cloth covered binding with black decoration and gilt title to the spine. The covers have a waxed effect which gives them a superior feel. Internally some foxing on the thick period paper .. still a delightful copy of a rare and relevant book.

    Carries the special bookplate of Charterhouse School Masonic Lodge – Deo Dante Dedi – Aedes Carthusianae and the name written F.G. Hamnett who sadly perished along with so many ex Charthouse boys in the Great War. Also, the later bookplate of Glen Ralph and his Wilmar Library.

    The admirably qualified author begins with … The Outward Appearance of the British Possessions in the Straits of Malacca and its early History; Pinang and Minto’s expedition; Singapore and Sir Stamford Raffles; the Straits from 1825-1867 the claims of the Sultan and Temenggong in regard to Johore; the Straits from 1867-73 with Sir Harry Ord and Anarchy in the Malaya Straits; The Malays … Customs, Prejudices, Arts, language and Literature; the later Administrations 1874 Sir Andrew Clarke, 1875/6 Sir William Jervois …. 1895 -1906 the Federation and its Results …

    19th Century in Malaya and authoritative account with good period illustrations many from very early photographs


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  • Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland; from the dissolution of the last Parliament of Charles II till the Capture of the French and Spanish Fleets at Vigo – Three Volumes – Sir John Dalrymple -1790

    Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland; from the dissolution of the last Parliament of Charles II till the Capture of the French and Spanish Fleets at Vigo – Three Volumes – Sir John Dalrymple -1790

    A new edition 1790 updating his first offering about twenty year earlier that finished at the time of the sea battle of La Hogue. Published by Strahan & Cadell, Bell, Creech & Balfour, London and Edinburgh, 1790.

    Three volumes, octavo, a beautiful set in contemporary mottled calf, banded spine with red morocco title label and green morocco volume number lozenge. Almost edible.

    A vert attractive set of an important work with original owner name Alexander Fraser Tyler, a distinguished Scottish Advocate at the head of the title.

    Sir John Dalrymple (1726-1810) was the 4th Baron of Cousland and Scottish Advocate, Judge and Chemist. He studied at Edinburgh and Cambridge and was a friend of David Hume and Adam Smith. In writing this large work he had access numerous original manuscript documents.

    Of Australian interest the volumes contain … “An Account of an Intended Expedition in the South Seas by Private Persons in the Late War” which relates to Sir John Dalrymple’s attempts to persuade merchants of Glasgow to organise a privateering expedition against Spain in the Pacific. There are numerous references to New Holland and the discoveries of James Cook.

    Because of these early Australian references these volumes are included in Ferguson’s bibliography of all books Australian at number 78.

    Important 18th Century memoir in fine style with Australian interest and important provenance.

    About the first owner Alexander Tytler

    Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouslee (1747-1813) was a Scottish advocate, judge, writer who serve as Professor of Universal History, Greek and Roman Antiquities at Edinburgh University. In 1790, around the time he purchased these volumes, he became Judge Advocate of Scotland and in 1802 he became a Lord of Session in the Scottish Courts. He was a friend of Robert Burns and famously persuaded Burns to remove several lines from “Tam o’Shanter”’ which had insulted the legal profession.


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  • Original manuscript Accounts Book 1791/92 – Most Likely – Webster’s Ropery Sunderland, County Durham, England

    Original manuscript Accounts Book 1791/92 – Most Likely – Webster’s Ropery Sunderland, County Durham, England

    Original folio accounts book for the two-year ending 31st December 1792 most likely of or the predecessor to one of England’s leading maritime rope makers, Webster of Deptford, Sunderland County Durham. Original quarter reverse calf with marbled paper covered boards. 62 pages of fine handwriting … appears all the same hand.

    Titled at the head of page the first page “An Inventory of Goods etc at the Ropery belonging Messrs William Marshall and John Webster together with an account of the Debts due to & from them this first Day of January One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety One”

    The first record of rope making on Wearside (the river Weir runs through Sunderland) was in 1636. The rope was likely made from Baltic hemp. Before 1800 ropes were hand-made on ropewalks a practice that continued for another 100 years. Ropewalks had to be wide enough for four men to spin abreast of each other and long enough to make a standard 120 fathom marine rope. Up to 20 people may be employed on just one rope.

    Webster’s plant at Deptford was the first on Wearside driven by steam. It is believed to be the world’s first factory producing machine-made rope. Robert Fothergill a Sunderland schoolmaster had patented a machine to spin hemp the year after our accounts book (1793). It could be that this careful record was produced as part of an exercise to obtain finance for the mechanisation … although the low wages recorded suggest that that mechanisation may well have been underway. We do know that Fothergill died shortly afterwards and Grimshaw a local clockmaker took up the rights in partnership with our Webster and two others. Although its not clear whether the Webster involved was Rowland a distinguished magistrate or John as noted here.

    One of the partners in the business was the distinguished Rowland Burdon who later gave up his Parliamentary position on principle although many though that it was because Webster’s Ropery had gained very lucrative contracts with the Royal Navy and he was avoiding any backlash financially … for sure Webster’s were there at Trafalgar!

    The records mention many of the vessels of the day that would have been working out of the North-east along with their captains … e.g. Captain McQuarrie of the Fanny; Johnstone of the Nancy William; Robinson of the Broughton Tower; Cleminson of the Argyll; Kennel of the Endeavour (a new one); Dixon of the Sarah; Holm of the Hollow Oak; Neal of the Betsy.

    Neat recording of debts and payments with particulars of sales noted with full description for every transaction with monthly totals compared often against some measure of the physical amount sold (early KPI’s). Stock holdings, wages per wage period all set out very carefully. For an industrial historian there seems sufficient information to paint a pretty full picture of the extent of activities. We have gleamed that the Ropery Buildings are in the books at GBP 220, stockholdings were GBP205 and annual sales GBP484 with total wages of only GBP72. Looks nicely profitable.

    Interestingly, the Ropery building still exists and has been restored … it is a magnificent building and has been re-established as Webster’s Ropery … but as a beautiful wedding venue … check it out we have shown an image here.

    Accounting Records from 1792 …. unique Maritime interest …


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  • La Grande Bretagne et Ireland – Chatelain – 1717

    La Grande Bretagne et Ireland – Chatelain – 1717

    An original copper engraved map of the British Isles by Zacharie Chatelain and published in Amsterdam in 1717.

    A nice example with simple outline simple outline colouring. Engraved area 17 cm by 14cm a good strong plate mark.

    Henri Abraham Chatelain (1684-1743) born in Paris but lived variously in Paris, London, the Hague and later Amsterdam. This intriguing map of the British Isles was published as part of “La Science des Personnes de la Cour … “ a monumental work covering religion, astronomy, geography, war and fortifications etc.

    Chatelain’s reputation is that of a skilled artist with delicate engraving and an uncomplicated composition. It is considered that Chatelaine primarily used De L’Isle as his reference for maps and we would agree with that view in regard to this little beauty.

    Price $280.00 framed in Voyager miniature map style with gilt fillet, burgundy mat and beaded gilt frame.

    Attractive 300 year old map of the British Isles


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