Small folio (250 x 190 mm.), full contemporary mottled calf, ornate blind panelled boards, rebacked with raised bands, preserving original calf gilt labels. With typographic title page, engraved frontispiece view facing, pp. 48, with 1 further plate on p. 39 and a map bound at the end, in very good condition. Boxed in blue cloth quarter calf with raised bands.
A FOUNDATION DOCUMENT OF GEORGIA. FIRST EDITION, SECOND AND BEST ISSUE. With the addition of the ‘Postscript’ including letters from James Edward Oglethorpe. Benjamin Martyn’s name did not appear on the title page until the second edition later in the same year.
One of the foundation documents of the colony of Georgia. The colony as we know it today was originally part of the land granted to the eight Lords Proprietors in 1663. By the 1730s there was a need for a ‘buffer’ colony between prosperous Carolina and Spanish Florida. Oglethorpe (1696-1785) became a Member of Parliament in 1722 and became involved with a Gaols Committee. He befriended John Perceval, later first Earl of Egremont. The two of them came up with the idea of a new colony to house the ‘unemployed and unemployable’. A Charter was presented to the Privy Council in September 1730 and a promotional campaign was launched to raise funds. Oglethorpe wrote or edited most of this material.
Benjamin Martyn (1699-1763) became the secretary to the Society for Establishing the Colony of Georgia from 1732. In that year he drew on the earlier writings for Some Account of the Designs of the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in 1732. This four-page pamphlet has not been seen in auction since the Streeter sale in 1967 and is extremely rare. It includes the map found here in its first state. Several articles appeared in newspapers, magazines and journals of the day.
On 9 June 1732 Oglethorpe and his associates were granted a royal charter to establish the colony of Georgia. In November 1732 he set sail in the ‘Anne’ with 114 others for Georgia. Back home Martyn pressed on with publicity, issuing in 1733 this more detailed book entitled Reasons for Establishing the Colony of Georgia. Sabin called it ‘A well-written tract; plausible in its arguments, glowing in its descriptions, valuable for its information, and pertinent in its appeals to the philanthropic and benevolent’.
It was originally published with 39 pages; it graphically describes the gains to be made for Britain by the establishment of the colony. Unlike most of the colonies, Georgia was founded more as a social undertaking than an outright mercantile project. The frontispiece, which is often lacking, illustrates the town of Savannah as planned, with workers busy building the well laid out plots. It is engraved by John Pine (1690-1756), as is the tailpiece.
To support the work, he included a map of the southeast, THE FIRST MAP TO NAME GEORGIA. It is here in its third state with St. Augustin below Matansas. It is derived from the excessively rare Thomas Nairne map of 1711. Although the geography is more focused on the region of interest, the detail is very similar. The same cannot be said however for the content. Whereas Nairne’s map was produced to highlight the threats from Spain in Florida and the French to the west, mention of either is here removed. Some of this information was present on the extremely rare first state.
One of the more notable alterations in the later state is in moving St. Augustine from above to below the line marking The South Bounds of Carolina’. ‘Thus Oglethorpe’s first map to show and publicize the projected colony was judiciously compiled to present Georgia in a geopolitically favourable and ostensibly secure setting’ (De Vorsey).
Shortly after publication a Postscript was printed including a letter from Oglethorpe to the Trustees from Savannah, their reply to him, a list of the Trustees, etc. This second issue is the preferred version which is offered here. Later still the title was altered to state a ‘Second Edition’ and name Benjamin Martyn (1698-1763). Martyn was a writer and official for the government. He was a strong advocate of the colony.
This example has a distinguished provenance coming from the Bridgewater Library. ‘The oldest large family collection in England to survive intact into modern times’ (Tabor). The library began under Thomas Egerton, 1st Viscount Brackley (1540-1617) and was built up over succeeding generations. This was likely acquired at the time of Scroop Egerton, 1st Duke of Bridgewater (1681-1744) who was a pioneering landowner. In the nineteenth century it began to be dispersed at the hands of the John Egerton, fourth Earl of Ellesmere (1872-1944). It was through the auspices of New York dealer George Dallas Smith (1870-1920) that Henry E. Huntington acquired over 8,300 books by private treaty through Sotheby’s in 1917. Between 1918 and 1924 ‘duplicates’ were sold back through auction including this book at Anderson Galleries in 1919.
Provenance: Bridgewater Library, Earl of Bridgewater, Tatton Park, Egerton, with bookplate dated 1898; Henry E. Huntington 1917; Anderson Galleries 6 March 1919 lot 131 ‘Americana from the Library of Henry E. Huntington’ (pencil note on final free endpaper ‘H.E.H. Dup.’; George MacManus Co. June 1998; private collection.
Cumming-De Vorsey (1998) 211; De Renne I, p.45; De Vorsey (1986) Imago Mundi 38, pp. 35-9; ESTC T58110; Howes (1962) M356; Mandelbrote (2006) p. 45ODNB; Sabin (1868-1936) 45003; Streeter II (April 1967), 1144 (apparently lacking the view found in this copy); Tabor, Stephen (1999), “The Bridgewater Library”, in Baker, William; Womack, Kenneth (eds.), Pre-Nineteenth-Century British Book Collectors and Bibliographers, Dictionary of Literary Biography, 213, Gale Group, pp. 40–50; Vail (1970) 371.