1738. London: Printed for T. Osborne..., 1738.
8vo, [ii], vii [xii, contents], 402 pp. Contemporary calf, backstrip consolidated and upper hinge with slight splitting but quite firm, a good sound copy.
§ First edition of the first Library Manual in English and one of the earliest (if not the earliest) books in English on old and rare books. DNB notes: “In 1737 Oldys began publishing his own researches in The British Librarian, a miscellaneous bibliographical compilation of rare books and manuscripts. It was published in six monthly numbers, from January to June 1737, and was thereafter issued as a composite volume with an index of subjects in 1738. It was designed to bring to light ‘curious’ publications and to offer a bibliographical record for early books: three William Caxton items, from the collection of Peter Thompson, are described, together with works by St Gildas, Thomas More, Richard Hakluyt, Thomas Elyot, William Prynne, Elias Ashmole, and Robert Plot. Each number contained at least one manuscript item. Oldys had used the libraries of the duke of Montagu, John Anstis, Thomas Ames, and some of his neighbours in Gray's Inn—Nathaniel Booth and Charles Grimes. The book was prefaced by an optimistic statement of editorial intention, but in the postscript (from Gray's Inn, dated 18 February ) Oldys cites the ‘vast and unseen Mass of Reading’ needed to produce the comparatively ‘small Quantity of Writing’ (W. Oldys, The British Librarian, 1738, 375) as a reason for discontinuing the project for the time being.” ESTC T147996 notes a final leaf of ads, not recorded in any other copy. Item #123301