[COLLINGS, Richard, editor]. Mercurius Civicus: Londons Intelligencer. London: John Wright and Thomas Bates [and other imprints], 18 May-25 May 1643 to 3-10 December 1646.
Nos. 3-183 (-1, 2, 32, 74, 98 and 152). 4° (171 x 131mm). Most title-pages with woodcuts, usually a single or in later numbers a double portrait, some repeats. (Lacking 6 numbers, no. 3 with first leaf detached, no. 75 slightly damaged at uncut foremargin and with tear at lower margin, nos. 181-182 torn with loss to lower half of each leaf, occasional tears elsewhere causing minor loss, a few quires heavily browned, final leaf with clean tear into text.) Contemporary calf with red morocco lettering-piece (rebacked but upper cover detached, spine chipped).
A REMARKABLE RUN OF THIS CIVIL WAR WEEKLY WHOSE WOODCUTS ESTABLISH IT AS THE FIRST ILLUSTRATED JOURNAL. Since the sub-title showed its special concern with news of the metropolis, it can also be regarded as 'the first big city newspaper' (Joseph Frank, The Beginnings of the English Newspaper 1620-1660, 1961, p. 41). The use of rhymed headlines on the title-page and of a hand to indicate important items led Frank to identify Richard Collings as the author of two weeklies, The Kingdomes Weekly Intelligencer which appeared on a Tuesday (January, 1643-October, 1649), and Mercurius Civicus which came out on a Thursday, the first number dated 4 of May to Thursday 11 May . A century ago, Henry R. Plomer pointed out that: 'It was the first illustrated paper; it professed to give more news relating to the city of London than any of its contemporaries ... it is one of the rarest of all civil war newspapers.' Plomer usefully notes the following points: Each number consisted of a quarto sheet of four leaves, priced at one penny. The third issue was the first to contain a woodcut. Between the issue of nos. 6 and 7, from Thursday 16 June to Thursday 13 July, there was a gap of four weeks, occasioned by the Ordinance of Parliament passed on 14 June that all pamphlets should be entered at Stationers Hall. In no. 75 the title-page arrangement was changed with the cut being moved from the centre to the left-hand corner of the first page. With no. 130 the cuts were dropped but restored after four months' absence with no. 139 (double portraits were introduced in no. 146 onwards). Towards the end of 1643 John Wright transferred his interest to his son, John Wright Junior, and the imprint then ran 'Thomas Bates and J.W.J.' until a few months before publication ceased, when the name of Thomas Bates (the publisher of Shakespeare's Sonnets) is found alone. The collation is continuous but highly irregular between 6A and 6Z. The duplication of nos. 148 and 162 is redressed by the omission of nos. 164 and 173. In this copy, blank quires have been bound in where numbers are lacking, with the exception of nos. 1-2.
ESTC lists copies of Mercurius Civicus only at the BL, Bodleian, Worcester College, Oxford, and Senate House, London in the UK; and at Huntington, University of Texas, and Yale in the US. The most complete run identified by Plomer is in the BL's Thomason collection, which lacks nos. 13, 15, 29 and 82. The BL has another copy in the Burney collection, but this has nothing before no. 6, and nothing after no. 152. The Bodleian copy lacks all before no. 11 and after 149; the Texas University copy contains only nos. 65, 114, and 139. THE FOLJAMBE COPY MUST THEREFORE BE REGARDED AS UNUSUALLY COMPLETE AND HIGHLY RARE. Nelson and Seccombe, 298; NCBEL I: 2098; Harry R. Plomer 'An Analysis of the Civil War Newspaper Mercius Civius' in The Library 1905 s2-VI, 184-207; not in Wing.