FIRST EDITION of the FIRST HISTORY of the county of Nottinghamshire. Most of the plates in this work are engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77). In the annals of English copper plate engraving few hold such a high reputation, it is in the seventeenth century that he contributed so much. He is one of the first to record in such great detail and quantity the English way of life at the time. The breadth and depth of his work is remarkable. He was born in Prague 13 July 1607 as Václav Hollar which he would later anglicise. His childhood was a life of some privilege which enabled him access to some of the finest art works of the era including that of the principal court engraver Aegidius Sadeler with whom it is believed Hollar learnt to engrave. Hollar’s early work was in Prague but the turmoil at home encouraged him to go to Stuttgart, Germany in 1627, then to Strasbourg two years later.
It was in 1636 that a fortuitous meeting occurred with the English envoy Thomas Howard, the Earl of Arundel. Hollar joined the entourage and was employed to record their travels. At the end of the year the Earl of Arundel returned to England and was joined by Hollar. For the next six years he worked closely alongside him. The Earl and his circle were fervent Royalists which it appears matched Hollar’s own sympathies. According to the eighteenth century engraver George Vertue, he fought during the Civil War being present at the garrison of Basing House in 1644 with other notable artists such as Inigo Jones and William Faithorne.
Robert Thoroton (1623-78) was born into an old Nottinghamshire family which took its name from the hamlet of Thoroton, formerly Thurveton, near Newark. Educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge, and became a medical practitioner in 1646. He took little part in the Civil War and after the Restoration was made Justice of the peace for the county. He began work on the ‘Antiquities of Nottinghamshire’ in 1677. His father-in-law Gilbert Boun had transcribed notes from the Domesday Book. ‘For his researches he employed paid assistants at considerable expense to himself, delving into family archives, registers (some now lost), estate papers, church monuments, and epitaphs. Like a number of county antiquaries he was little concerned with his own times, or indeed with his own century, but tried to trace the manorial history of each parish back to Domesday. He showed little interest in Roman remains, while protesting at enclosure and destruction of woods. His notes, made on the back of letters from his patients in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and Derbyshire, are now in Nottingham Public Library’ (ODNB). The book is dedicated to Gilbert Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury and Sir William Dugdale, both personal friends. ‘Dugdale wrote to the antiquary Sir Daniel Fleming, ‘Dr Thoroton’s book cost me 16s to 18s. I do esteem the book well worth your buying, though had he gone to the fountain of records it might have been better done’ (1 Sept 1677, Le Fleming MSS, 13940)’ (ODNB).
This example is complete with the folding map of the county dated 1676 and the rare slip of Arms. Provenance: private English collection. Anderson (1881) p. 235; ESTC R22553; ODNB; Upcott (1968) 1047-51.