Mezzotint frontis. port. of George III (a little foxed), arms on each title, & two engraved views of the library serving as head- & tailpieces. Five vols. Large folio, cont. red straight-grained morocco (minor scuffing), panelled & tooled in gilt with centerpiece stamped monogram "GR" surmounted by a crown on covers, spines gilt, dentelles gilt, a.e.g. London: W. Bulmer & W. Nicol, 1820-29.
The catalogue, "sumptuously printed" by Bulmer, of the magnificent library of King George III (1738-1820), donated to the nation by his son, George IV. This is a royal copy, having belonged to Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and the fifth son of George III, who became King of Hanover in 1837. It is superbly bound in red straight-grained morocco and printed on paper superior to other sets.
"The kings of England had, from the end of the fifteenth century, always shown a certain taste for fine books, especially for the handsomer volumes of their own day...A new library was started in 1765 by King George III, when he purchased for 10,000 pounds the valuable collection of incunabula (with a few manuscripts) brought together by Joseph Smith (1682-1770), the British Consul at Venice...
"George III continued adding to his library for nearly fifty years, buying with considerable discrimination at all the notable sales of the period; he secured the best books at the West, Ratcliffe and Askew auctions, built up a magnificent collection of English plays, and kept on right up to the Roxburghe sale (1812). His usual agents were Messrs Nicol, the booksellers, but he seems to have obtained from the Continent some extremely valuable incunabula by the assistance of one Horn of Ratisbon, a great despoiler of the German convents...
"There is a sumptuously printed but hastily compiled catalogue of which copies are seldom met with."-De Ricci, pp. 55-56.
"As a boy George III had received an excellent education. He learned Latin well enough to be able to read the classics; French and German; history, geography, and the British political system; mathematics and elementary science; art, architecture, and music. After he left the schoolroom he continued his education under the Earl of Bute, an inspiring if somewhat pedantic tutor...Under his tuition the King developed wide cultural interests, a reverence for scholarship, and the instinct of a collector...
"The King's aim was...to acquire a library which contained every book which an eighteenth-century scholar could desire. It was a library to be used, not simply to be admired...It was, as far as it could be in the eighteenth century, a universal library...It is rich in library catalogues. In addition to the catalogues of British libraries, there are catalogues from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, and Russia. There are over five hundred sale catalogues, most British and most with the prices marked...
"It was the King's wish that a catalogue should be published, but he postponed this as long as possible. When it became clear after 1812 that the King would never recover, Queen Charlotte and the Prince Regent urged the preparation of a catalogue. It was compiled by Barnard and published between 1820 and 1829 in five folio volumes...It was never offered for sale but copies were presented to heads of state and the great libraries in the United Kingdom and on the Continent. It is today an extremely rare book."John Brooke, "The Library of King George III" in The Yale University Library Gazette, Vol. 52, No. 1 (July 1977), pp. 33-45.
"Frederick Barnard had begun the catalogue of the books and manuscripts of the King's Library while it was at Buckingham House. The catalogue was completed...by Barnard and his staff for the Trustees of the British Museum and printed in five volumes between 1820 and 1829...Very few copies were printed, none for sale, and they are now very rare."-Paintin, The King's Library, p. 22.
This copy lacks the engraved frontispiece portrait of Bernard. A sixth volume, issued separately in 1829 and not present here, describes the maps, prints, and drawings.
A magnificent set. From the library of Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, and the subsequent Kings of Hanover.
Miller, That Noble Cabinet, p. 125"one of the finest libraries ever created by one man...By the time of the King's death the collection amounted to 65,250 volumes, besides 19,000 unbound tracts."
Item ID: 1025