22 - 23 March 2005
COTTON, Sir Robert Bruce (1571-1631) -- Thomas SMITH (1638-1710). Catalogus Librorum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Cottonianae. Oxford: Theatro Sheldoniano, 1696.
2o (385 x 240 mm). Engraved portrait of Sir Robert Cotton by R. White after C. Johnson, title vignette and 2 engraved headpieces by M. Burghers. (Some pale spotting.) Contemporary blind-tooled vellum (covers bowed). Provenance: Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1655-1716), Scottish patriot, politician and book collector (signature on rear pastedown).
Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun's copy of the only complete record of the celebrated manuscript library of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton which to the present day is one of the best-known components of the British Library; presented by his grandson, Sir John Cotton, to whom the volume is dedicated, to the nation in 1700, it fell victim to a disastrous fire in 1731, when 212 of 958 manuscripts were destroyed or badly damaged. Thomas Smith, a non-juring divine and scholar, at times of Magdalen College, Oxford, had a rather checkered career, but finally settled down in the household of Sir John Cotton and his grandson, another Sir John, and a fine collector himself, was for twelve years in charge of the Cottonian manuscripts. Wing S-4233.
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