This fascinating and comprehensive volume, published in 1817, offers the reader a complete portrait of an English county at the start of the 19th century, with detailed descriptions of towns, villages, countryside, and information about the agriculture, commerce, mining and manufacturing concerns then being carried on there. Based on the pioneering work of Sir William Dugdale a century earlier, it expands and updates his information for a more modern readership, using later sources.
Sir William Dugdale (1605-1686) was an English antiquary, Herald, and scholar, influential in the development of medieval history as an academic subject. With Sir Symon Archer he published "Antiquities of Warwickshire" (1656), and also produced a number of other
writings on other English counties, including Derbyshire and Yorkshire. A "History of St Paul's Cathedral" appeared in 1658, and the "Ancient Usage of Bearing Arms" in 1682. Other scholarly works were also published.
Our book is perhaps most remarkable for retaining its original publishers binding - plain buff boards with no spine, and sewn binding, the whole protected by a double thickness of plain brown/buff paper. Most books of this age would have been bound by their purchaser in leather or decorative marbled boards - but this appears to have escaped this attention. A pasted label inside the front cover
proclaims it the property of Mrs W. T. Cleeve. Despite its unprepossessing exterior, inside the book is in surprisingly good condition for its age, the sewn binding fairly firm with no loose pages (first 75 pages holding only by upper threads). Untrimmed page edges browned and rather soft; surprisingly little foxing; folding map and 7 engraved illustrations (including portrait frontispiece) all present; a few dog-eared pages; last 2 or 3 pages torn at bottom corner. One further interesting point relates to page numbering - P.368 is followed by P.269-284, before suddenly returning to P.385. One wonders, then, whether this was a copy rejected by the publisher for this reason.