1774. London: Printed for T. Payne... M.DCC.LXXIV [Vols. I and II 1774, Vol. III 1776].
3 vols., 4to, (iii)-xx, (2), 516; vii, (i), 537, (2); (iii)-viii, 601 pp. with 31 engravings on 30 listed plates, plus 3 maps. Contemporary diced calf with wide gilt and blind-tooled borders, recently rebacked, marbled edges and endpapers. A clean and wide-margined copy with superb impressions of the plates. Armorial bookplates of John Pulteney.
§ First edition of Vol. 1 and 2, only edition of Vol. 3. Of the 31 plates, 25 are signed by Blake’s master Basire and three unsigned plates are probably from his shop. As such it is “highly likely” (Bentley) Blake had a hand in them. The influence of the book on Blake’s later work is surer still, as Essick writes: “Blake’s familiarity with the book is certain, for he refers to what ‘Jacob Bryant, and all antiquaries have proved’ in “A Descriptive Catalogue” of 1809. Many of Blake’s excursions into syncretic mythology may have been influenced by Bryant’s theories and several of Blake’s designs were very probably influenced by the illustrations in the book.” The engravings in this copy are beautifully dark and crisp, clearly early impressions of the plates. Bartolozzi's engraving facing p.394 of vol 2. is signed with his name and printed in ochre; in the second edition the plate was reworked, signed by Sherwin, and printed in black. Essick, CBI, p.117, C. Bentley 439A. Item #110832