[THOMASON, George (1600-66) -- Charles MEARNE (1658-86)]. A Complete Collection of Books and Pamphlets Begun in the Year 1640. by the Special Command of King Charles I. of Blessed Memory, and continued to the happy Restauration of the Government, and the Coronation of King Charles II. [London: Anne, widow of Samuel Mearne, and Charles Mearne, not before 1685].
Half median broadsheet (320 x 195 mm), printed on recto only. No watermark. Roman and italic types, drop-title. (Tears repaired, creases ironed, stained.) Tipped onto cardboard, preserved in a cloth portfolio.
THE EXCEEDINGLY RARE BROADSIDE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE EN-BLOC SALE OF THE CELEBRATED THOMASON COLLECTION OF CIVIL WAR AND COMMONWEALTH TRACTS. Only four other copies are recorded: British Library (2), Bodleian Library, Quaritch catalogue 957 (1976), item 62. Wing's entry T995A implies two states of the broadside, listing the Bodleian copy as a variant, but they are apparently two different editions, the Breslauer and at least one of the BL advertisements printed in the larger type and with the first line of text ending with the word "taken"; the Bodleian and Quaritch copies belong to the other edition, where the first line ends "many".
Thomason was a London bookseller, whose chief claim to notice rests on the huge collection he formed from 1641 onwards of more than 22,000 books, pamphlets and broadsides relating to the Civil War and the Commonwealth. His sympathies were with the King, but he collected everything on both sides as well as foreign publications and some manuscripts. The advertisement describes the formation and vicissitudes of the collection and its manuscript catalogue in twelve folio volumes, which enables the smallest piece to "be found in a moment; which Method is of singular use to the Reader." All efforts were made "to keep the Collection from being embezel'd and destroy'd; which with the great Charges of collecting and binding them, cost the Undertaker so much, that he refused Four Thousand Pounds for them in his Life time." After Thomason's death Bodley's librarian, Bishop Barlow, tried but failed to secure the collection for Oxford, and eventually it was sold c. 1680 by the heirs to the King's binder, Samuel Mearne. Mearne died in 1683 and, shortly after Charles II's death in early 1685, Mearne's widow and son hopefully published this advertisement. It was not until 1761 that George III purchased the Thomason Tracts for a bargain price, apparently at the recommendation of Thomas Hollis, and presented them the following year to the recently founded British Museum. See G.K. Fortescue, Catalogue of the pamphlets collected by George Thomason (2 volumes, 1908); also, H.M. Nixon, English Restoration Bookbindings (1974) p. 11.