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Book Details

[OLDYS (William) JOHNSON (Samuel) & MAITTAIRE (Michel). Catalogus Bibliothecae Harleianae, in locos communes distributus cum indice auctorum.1743

London: Thomas Osborne. 5 Vols., 8vo (198 x 125 mm), [6], 8, 488; xx, 489-1034, 37, [3]; [6], [xiii]-xvi, 408; [2], 409-858; [4], 448pp., lacking in vol. 1 an advertisement leaf; vol. 3 6pp. 'Proposals' and in vol. 4 4pp. of imprimatur, 'Proposals' and advertisements, woodcut initials and head-pieces, some spotting or light foxing, contemporary mottled calf, sympathetically rebacked, preserving original red morocco labels, corners worn, rubbed. The enormous library of 50,000 printed books, and some 7639 manuscripts formed by Robert Harley (1661-1724), 1st Earl of Oxford, Edward Harley (1689-1741), second Earl of Oxford, and their librarian Humfrey Wanley (1672-1726). The first Earl of Oxford "was one of the first collectors who systematically acquired early printed books; his son Edward... continued the library. After the latter's death in 1741, his widow sold the library for 13,000 pounds to the London bookseller Thomas Osborne (d. 1767), who employed Dr. Johnson and William Oldys, antiquary and later Norroy King-of-Arms, to catalogue it." (Breslauer & Folter). The catalogue was planned by Michael Maittaire who also wrote the Latin dedication to Lord Carteret. Dr. Johnson shared the cataloguing of the collection with Oldys, as well as adding the prefatory eight-page 'An Account of the Harleian Library' to volume one. Although this was a bookseller's catalogue, the prices were not published, but Osborne marked a minimum price it each, which were then sold to the highest bidder. The bulk of the manuscripts were sold to the nation for £10,000. Provenance: Bookplate of the 'Afhaendet Fra Bibliotheket'; Classenske Bibliotek, Copenhagen; booklabel of Sotheby & Co. reference library. De Ricci, pp. 33-38; Breslauer & Folter, 102; Fleeman, 43.1CBH.

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