University Archives

Lot 43

Marshall’s Life of Washington, Best English Edition, 5 Quarto Volumes With Folding Maps & Plates

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Marshall’s Life of Washington, Best English Edition, 5 Quarto Volumes With Folding Maps & Plates


Marshall’s Life of Washington, Best English Edition, 5 Quarto Volumes With Folding Maps & Plates

[WASHINGTON, GEORGE]. John Marshall, The Life of George Washington, Commander in Chief of the American Forces. London: Richards Phillips, 1804-07. Five volumes. Thick quarto, contemporary full brown tree sheep rebacked, red morocco spine labels. Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, mild dampstaining. Without four folding maps, the existing eight maps need repair and some restoration, along with folding frontis (Vol. II).

Shortly after Marshall became Chief Justice, he was approached by Washington’s nephew, Bushrod, to write the first President’s official biography. Probably, no man was better suited to the task. As a personal friend of Washington’s, Marshall had been the one to announce the President’s death in 1799, had offered the eulogy, had chaired the committee that arranged the funeral rites, and had led the commission to plan a monument in the capital city. When Marshall’s Life of Washington appeared, it was considered so authoritative that Washington scholar Jared Sparks suggested any new biographical undertaking would be “presumptuous” (Sparks, Washington I:12).

The first English edition was typeset from manuscripts “received from America in the course of the Autumn [1804 and later]”. It, together with the American first edition of the same years, are “the only complete editions of this indispensable work, the ‘Colonial History’ being omitted in the later American editions” (Sabin).

Gilbert Stuart’s famous portrait of Washington, made known to the British public through this engraved frontispiece, was executed by Royal engraver James Fittler. The eight engraved maps (most folding) depict the Northern Provinces; the Southern Provinces; Boston; New Jersey; the Southern states of Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia; Quebec; the Siege of Charleston; and the Battle of York. Rear advertisement leaf (Vol. II). Howes M317. Sabin 44788. Bookplates. Owner signature (Vol. I). Library bookplate (Vol. III).

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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