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PRESTON, William (1742--1818)
Illustrations of masonry. By William Preston, Past Master of the Lodge of Antiquity, acting by immemorial constitution. The twelfth edition, with considerable additions.
London: printed for G. Wilkie, 1812.
xxiv, 444 p., engr. portrait frontis., [4] pl. (1 fold.) ; 17.5 cm. (12º)

First published in 1772. This edition, printed by Strahan and Preston, Printers-Street, London and presumably acquired by Soane in connection with his appointment to the post of Grand Superintendent of Works to the United Grand Lodge of England, includes 'A Collection of Odes, Anthems, and Songs'. The frontispiece is an engraved portrait of the author; according to an inscription in the British Library copy (4788.b.8) this is the first edition to contain the author's portrait. Unlike the Soane copy, the copies in the BL and King's College, London library do not have any additional plates. The presence of additional plates varies between copies; those in the Soane copy consist of portraits of Lord Moira and the Duke of Sussex (engraved, like the frontispiece, for The European Magazine which was published by James Asperne between 1806 and 1820); a view of the exterior of the Freemasons' Tavern, Great Queen Street, engraved by S. Rawle 'for the European Magazine from an original drawing by I. Nisson' dated 1811; and a wood-engraved plate depicting a tableau of Freemasonic symbols, which is reproduced in gilt on the upper cover of the binding. The catalogue of the Library of Freemasons' Hall records thirteen known copies of this edition, all with this binding, which is attributed to John Loveday (ca. 1750--1818) and may have been issued in anticipation of the founding of the Grand Lodge in 1812--13. Comparison of the Soane copy with the six similar copies held at the Freemasons' Hall reveals the presence or substitution of various additional plates, so that no two copies appear to be precisely the same. Although the Soane copy does in fact match one of the Freemasons' Hall copies in all respects (apart from the positioning of the Freemasons' Tavern plate), this degree of variation between copies suggests that the edition was small enough to allow for an element of ad hoc extra-illustration. Hooked on Books 3.3.

Copy Notes Bookseller's printed pink label on rear pastedown reads 'Asperne / Bookseller / 32 Cornhill'. Bought from James Asperne for 1 guinea in 1813 (Archives 7A/15/49).

Binding C19th dark blue goat, upper cover gilt-tooled with composition of freemasonic symbols within panel (see bibliographical note above); further masonic emblems in corners of lower cover; spine decorated with tools repeated from upper cover and lettered 'Preston's / Masonry'; gilt edges, marbled endpapers.

Reference Number 311


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