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SCOT, Reginald (1538?-1599). The Discoverie of Witchcraft, wherin the lewde dealings of witches and witchmongers is notablie detected, the knauerie of conjurors, the impietie of inchantors. London: [Henry Denham for] William Brome, 1584.
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SCOT, Reginald (1538?-1599). The Discoverie of Witchcraft, wherin the lewde dealings of witches and witchmongers is notablie detected, the knauerie of conjurors, the impietie of inchantors. London: [Henry Denham for] William Brome, 1584.

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SCOT, Reginald (1538?-1599). The Discoverie of Witchcraft, wherin the lewde dealings of witches and witchmongers is notablie detected, the knauerie of conjurors, the impietie of inchantors. London: [Henry Denham for] William Brome, 1584.

4° (183 x 130mm). Black letter, with some roman and italic. Title-page with woodcut head-piece, woodcut illustrations including 4 full-page cuts on *1-2, large floral and historiated initials and other woodcut ornaments. (Title leaf remargined with two letters in facsimile affecting the very top of the head-piece, R4/5 and *1/2 remargined, possibly supplied.) 19th-century red levant morocco gilt, spine gilt in 6 compartments with 5 raised bands, edges gilt (upper hinge and joint just starting). Provenance: Herman LeRoy Edgar (armorial bookplate on pastedown); Robert J. Hamershlag (bookplate on pastedown); Rex G. Conklin (bookplate on flyleaf).

FIRST EDITION of Scot’s work, attractively printed by William Brome, and divided into 16 books followed by a “A Treatise upon the Nature and Substance of Spirits and Devils.” In demonstrating that belief in witchcraft and magic had no rational or religious basis, Scot lists 212 authors whose Latin works he consulted, and 23 authors in English. But his work is also founded on a knowledge of courts of law in country districts where prosecutions occurred so frequently, and on familiarity with village folklore. Apart from witchcraft, it has great relevance to the history of conjuring, books 13 and 14 being largely an exposure of ancient conjuring tricks, magical illusions and various cozening devices. James VI of Scotland referred scathingly to Scot in his Daemonologie (1597) as “an Englishman, who is not ashamed in publike print to denie that here can be such a thing as witchcraft;” according to Norman, after coming to the English throne he ordered all copies to be burnt. Bartlett 230; Norman 1915; STC 21864.

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