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CASTELL, Robert (d. 1728)
The villas of the ancients illustrated. By Robert Castell.
London: printed for the author, 1728 [i.e. 1729].
[8], 128, [2] p., [13] pl. (9 double-page) : engr. illus. ; 50.5 cm. (2°)

Publication was delayed until 5 July 1729 owing to the author's imprisonment for debt and consequent death from smallpox on 12 December 1728. Originally planned in 1727 as a taster for Castell's proposed English edition of Vitruvius, the work did not excite sufficient interest from subscribers to proceed. In June 1728 proposals were published for the English Vitruvius, now supported by Lord Burlington, but after Castell's premature death the present work was instead brought to press as a charitable rather than a commercial endeavour, with no publishers or booksellers among the subscribers whose interest lay in prison reform rather than architectural history, and profits from sales intended to benefit the author's widow and children. The work was sufficiently popular to be reprinted at least twice, once with the text more cheaply printed in columns on 35 rather than 128 pages, omitting the subscribers' list and the parallel text in Latin (q.v.). See Harris and Savage, pp. 149--154; BAL, Early printed books, no. 581 (the condensed edition). There are three copies of this 'subscribers' edition' in the Library, all exhibiting different settings of the prelims and sig. A. These variant settings may be distinguished as follows: Copy A. With 'Robert Castell' on the title-page set between a pair of double-rules 4mm deep and 34mm apart and no short-rule immediately above the date 'MDCCXXVIII.'; line 7 of the dedication ends: 'without' and the 'T' in 'Burlington' on the same page has a horizontal flourish; the double-rule at the head of the preface is 4mm deep; the catchword on the recto of the subscription list reads: 'John'; the Latin catchword on the recto of leaf A1 reads: 'tium,'. Copy B. With 'Robert Castell' on the title-page set between a pair of double-rules 5mm deep and 37mm apart and a short-rule immediately above the date 'MDCCXXVIII.'; line 7 of the dedication ends: 'without' and the 'T' in 'Burlington' on the dedication page has no flourish; the double-rule at the head of the preface is 7mm deep; the catchword on the recto of the subscription leaf reads: 'Honou-'; the Latin catchword on the recto of leaf A1 reads: 'tium.'. Copy C. With 'Robert Castell.' on the title-page set between a pair of double-rules 4mm deep and 29mm apart and a short-rule immediately above the date 'M.DCC.XXVIII.'; line 7 of the dedication ends: 'with-' and the 'T' in 'Burlington' on the dedication page has no flourish; the catchword on the recto of the subscription list reads: 'John''; the Latin catchword on the recto of leaf A1 reads: 'tium,'. In copies B and C pages 81--82 are misnumbered 57--58. Another issue of this edition (Harris and Savage 109) has quire E (pp. 17--20) reduced to one leaf with the pages numbered 17 and 20. ESTC t50805; Harris and Savage, 108; Millard II, 11; Fowler 81.

Copy Notes Copy 1: Copy A. Inscribed in ink on the front free-endpaper John Soane / 1780. A payment of 10s. 6d. for 'Castell Villa' recorded on 8 July 1784 may refer to the binding of this copy, or to another untraced copy. (S.N.B.).
Copy 2: Copy B. 50.9 cm. Bought at the Adam sale, Christie's, 21 May 1818, lot 106, for 15s. (Priv. Corr. XVI.E.13).
Copy 3: Copy C. 48.5 cm. Inscribed in ink on front free-endpaper Willett's sale and on front pastedown in pencil Large Paper and a bookseller's code. Ralph Willett (1719--1795) was a book collector and connoisseur whose library at Merly in Dorset (a catalogue of which was printed in London in 1790) was auctioned by Leigh and Sotheby over seventeen days between 6 and 24 December 1813, the 2720 lots of books fetching £13,223 7s. 6d. The present work is listed as lot 584 and an annotated copy of the catalogue in the New York Public Library records the sale price as 5s. It is not known whether Soane bid at the sale.

Binding Copy 1: C18th sprinkled calf, gilt-ruled and dogtooth borders, gilt double-ruled spine, red morocco spine-label. Re-backed in C20th goatskin preserving original spine.
Copy 2: C18th marbled calf, gilt double-ruled borders, gilt-tooled spine compartments, red morocco spine-label.
Copy 3: C18th marbled calf, gilt-tooled spine compartments incorporating small thistle ornament, red morocco spine-label.

Reference Number 1859


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