[DEE, John (1527-1608).] General and Rare Memorials Pertayning to the Perfect Arte of Navigation. London: John Daye, 1577.
2° (298 x 198mm). Cancels: ?3, ?4. Slip-cancels: e*1r blank slip over last 5 lines of side-note; B4r, line 19, 'A sword, keepeth peace' (altered from 'maketh'); E2r 25-line side-note. Title with large wood cut, 18-line initial of Queen Elizabeth in majesty and woodcut plate of the arms of Sir Christopher Hatton ALL FULLY-COLOURED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND, 3 woodcut 13-line initials. (Variable soiling and staining.) Contemporary calf, covers with two panels outlined in single gilt and double blind fillets, central gilt medallions, gilt edges (sometime rebacked, joints cracking, extremities rubbed, heavily to head- and tailcaps). Provenance: A.H. Bright (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST WORK TO USE THE TERM 'BRYTISH IMPIRE'. This is the only part published of Dee's proposed great project 'The British Monarchie'. Stemming from his strong antiquarian interests, 'Dee was a firm believer in the historicity of ... "British history"' (ODNB). This led to his interest in the legendary voyage of Madog ab Owain Gwynedd to North America, and to his claiming large parts of the new world for Queen Elizabeth. The large allegorical woodcut on the title shows the Queen at the helm of the Christian ship of Europe, while the Greek motto translates as 'the guardian of safety is an armed fleet'. The context thus set, in this work Dee calls for the creation of a 'Pety-Navy-Royall' to secure England's fledging colonial interests. It is also the first work to discuss the law of the sea; he proposes the taxation of foreign fishermen in British waters as a way of securing the fisheries. The dedicatee, Christopher Hatton, one of Elizabeth's closest advisors and confidants, invested in the dream of Empire by co-funding Drake's circumnavigation voyage of 1577-1580. Dee himself invested in the voyages of Martin Frobisher in 1576-1577; later he was actively involved with advocating North-East and North-West Passages. Fittingly for man known for astrology and esoteric leanings, although Dee's name is explicitly stated in the third person in the dedication, it is also encoded in the signatures of the first three quires ('?ee'), in the letter inset on e3r, as well as in other places. EXTREMELY RARE: a statement on p.79 says that only 100 copies were printed of this work, although in the Huntington copy this has been amended in manuscript in a contemporary hand to 50 copies. ONLY 5 COPIES CAN BE TRACED AS SELLING AT AUCTION, NONE OF THEM COLOURED (ABPC/AE-online).