PERCEY, William. The Compleat Swimmer: or, The Art of Swimming. London: J.C[ottrell]. for Henry Fletcher, 1658.
8° (142 x 90mm). Engraved frontispiece. Woodcut title-ornament and headbands. (Variable light spotting and browning at margins.) Green calf gilt by F. Bedford [most probably for Samuel Christie-Miller c.1858-70, vide infra], boards with double gilt fillet borders and central gilt arms, gilt board edges and roll-tooled gilt turn-ins, spine gilt in compartments, the upper with 'WHM' monogram, gilt morocco lettering-pieces, gilt edges (extremities very lightly rubbed). Provenance: William Henry Miller (1789-1848, gilt arms on boards and monogram on spine, by descent to:) -- Miss Marsh (by descent from her before 1852 to:) -- Samuel Christie-Miller M.P. (d. 1889, pencilled inscription on flyleaf 'C+P SCM , Bound by Bedford', by descent to:) -- Wakefield Christie-Miller (d. 1898, by descent to:) -- Sydney Richardson Christie-Miller (Britwell Library sale, Sotheby's, 2 April 1925, lot 560, to Ellis) -- comte Chandon de Briailles (booklabel on flyleaf) -- Dr Jean Maronneaud (bookplate on upper pastedown).
FIRST EDITION. THE BRITWELL COPY OF PERCEY'S RARE WORK ON SWIMMING; the only copy that can be traced in Anglo-American book auction records since 1902. Percey's address to 'the ingenious, prudent, and self-preserving reader' proposes that the motivation of all human actions is either pleasure or profit; swimming is both pleasurable as exercise and profitable as a means to health, cleanliness and self-preservation from drowning. Following this exordium, the author proceeds--'I shall not detain you any longer in the Chanel, but invite you to lanch out into the Ocean'--to discuss the correct times and conditions for swimming, before instructing the reader in various strokes, techniques for treading water, and styles of diving. This copy passed from the library of William Henry Miller--'one of England's greatest book collectors' (De Ricci English Collectors of Books and Manuscripts, p.105) -- to that of his cousin Miss Marsh, who bequeathed it to Samuel Christie-Miller in 1852. In c. 1858, Christie-Miller made T. Thorpe responsible for the care and maintenance of the library (a position he retained until 1870), and the binding was probably commissioned from Francis Bedford at that time (cf. De Ricci op. cit. pp. 112-3; Bedford (1800-1884), worked independently from c.1841). ESTC R20550; Graesse V, p.197; Lowndes p.1829; Wing P-1454.