March 2004 acquisitions

This is plate XXII from the very rare hand-coloured copy of Richardson's 'Book of ceilings'. It shows a banquet of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. The only other hand-coloured copies of the book traced are at the British Library and the National Library in Warsaw. The possibility of acquiring coloured copies of this work — for 48 guineas — was mentioned in an advertisement in Richardson's 'New designs in architecture' (1792). One of the designs can now be seen in the Board Room of the Royal Bank of Scotland building in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. The 'Book of ceilings' did not have the desired effect of attracting new patrons for Richardson. By publishing his own designs he made available his works for imitation and rendered unnecessary his employment as an architect.

This broadside announces the annual Edinburgh archery competition founded in 1709, for which the prize was a silver arrow. The Silver Arrow Competition took place at Leith Links in July 1726. Only members of the Royal Company of Archers, a patriotic society with strong Jacobite leanings, were eligible to take part. The winner was to keep the silver arrow for a year. When he returned the arrow at the end of that year, he was to receive five pounds. It seems that John, Earl of Wigtown was the winner in 1726. The contest still takes place today. The woodcut headpiece shows the arms and motto of the City of Edinburgh, with the doe and maiden supporters (but not the coronet and anchor). Only one other copy of this broadside has been traced.

This is the second, enlarged edition of the German translation of James Anderson's 'The constitutions of the free masons; containing the history, charges, regulations, &c. of that most ancient and right worshipful fraternity. For the use of the lodges', first published in 1723. In 1721 Anderson, himself a freemason, was asked to produce a rulebook, the Constitutions. This edition has a beautiful folded frontispiece engraving representing the armorial sword. The sword plays an important part in Masonic ceremonial and the Grand Sword Bearer leads all processions of Grand Lodge carrying a similar sword.


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