1582 Grafton Calendar Almanac Astrology Astronomy British Topography Elizabethan For Sale


[Early Printing - England] [Almanacs and Calendars] [Astrology and Astronomy] [Chronology] [Topography of Great Britain]

Printed in London, [J. Charlewood for] J. Walley, 1582.
Fifth edition. Only one copy of this edition is found in the US (at Yale University), according to WorldCat.

A VERY RARE early edition of this curious Elizabethan era English almanac comprising including a broad variety of tables and computation rules of chronological, astrological/astronomical and topographical nature, offering a fascinating glimpse into the daily routines and preoccupations of the Elizabethan England. The work was compiled by Richard Grafton, best known as a printer of the English Reformation (he printed the Matthew's Bible in 1537 and the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549), and the author of A Chronicle at large and meere History of the affayres of Englande (1568).

Grafton's A Briefe Treatise (first printed in 1571 as A Litle Treatise) is "a typical Elizabethan compendium of information chronological and astrological" (A. Nicoll, The Elizabethans, p.156).

Maggs Bros. in their 1929 Catalogue no.520, Manuscripts And Books On Medicine, Alchemy, Astrology And Natural Sciences, describe Grafton's Brief Treatise as "a very curious and scarce compilation, containing numerous tables and rules relating to the Calendar, the sun, the moon, and the planets; listing the Wardes and Parishes of London, the Bishopricks of England and Wales, the Colleges and Halls in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; all the principal Fairs in England and Wales, the more important Highways, etc. With a verse of four lines heading each month of the year [in the Calendar] relative to that month, and other verses composed as aide to remembering certain rules, e.g. "A rule to know all the Vigils and fasting dayes throughout the whole year", "A rule to know how many dayes every month in the year hath," etc, varying in length from four to twenty lines."

The verses heading each month in the Calendar contain a pithy advice on the proper diet and regimen to adhere to in the particular month of the year. The verses for the month of May read: In May ryse earely and walke in the fields,
Leaue care and sorow, good medicines to take:
To bath and let blood, great healthfulnesse yeeldes,
Put Sage in thy drinke, thy thirst to slake.

Various astronomical/astrological tables and rules include, for example, "A table to knowe howe long the Moone shineth, and when she ryseth and setteth," "A rule to knowe the houre of the night by the shadowe of the Moone in any Sunne dyall," "A table to know what Planet rules any hower either of day or night, for ever".

The list of the major roads connecting the notable towns of the 16th-century England is also of great interest. Grafton's almanac is listed in H. G. Fordham catalog of The Road-books & Itineraries of Great Britain 1570 to 1850, which states: "the roads fill nineteen pages [of Grafton's "Treatise"], arranged in single column and are headed: "The high wayes from any notable towne in England to the Citie of London. And lykewise from one notable towne to an other, newlie collected & set forth in a more larger & better maner than heretofore it hath ben." They are divisible into fifteen main routes to London, with twenty-three branch and cross-roads and alternative routes. The former are: (i) Saint Burien to Exeter and London; (ii) Helford to Southampton and London; (iii) Bristol to London; (iv) Berwick to York and London; (v) Saint David's to London; (vi) Carmarthen to London; (vii) Carnarvon to Chester and London; (viii) Cockermouth to Lancaster and Coventry, and so to London; (ix) Cambridge to London; (x) Oxford to London; (xi) Dover to London; (xii) Rye to London; (xiii) Yarmouth to Colchester and London; (xiv) Walsingham to London, and (xv) Yarmouth to Norwich and London."

The extensive chronological table "A Computation of yeres" (leaves B2v-C6v) covers the reigns of the British monarchs from William the Conqueror to Queen Elizabeth I.

Richard Grafton (c. 1511-1573), was King's Printer under Henry VIII and Edward VI. He was a member of the Grocers' Company and MP for Coventry elected 1562-63.

With Edward Whitchurch, a member of the Haberdashers' Company, Grafton was interested in the printing of the Bible in English, and eventually they became printers and publishers, more by chance than by design. They published the Matthew Bible in 1537, though it was printed abroad. In 1538 they brought presses and printers from Paris to print the first edition of the Great Bible. Whitchurch printed for a time in partnership with Grafton, who set up his press in the recently surrendered house of the Grey Friars, and in 1541 they obtained a joint exclusive privilege for printing service books including the Prayer-book; a little later they were granted a privilege for printing primers in Latin and English.

In 1541 Grafton was committed to Fleet Prison for printing a "sedicious [sic] epistle of Melanctons" and was also accused by the Privy Council of printing ballads defending the late Thomas Cromwell. In April 1543, he and seven other printers, among them Whitchurch, were sent to prison "for printing such books as were thought to be unlawful." In Grafton's case it was for having printed the Great Bible. He spent six weeks in prison and was bound in £300 neither to sell nor to print any more Bibles until the King and clergy should agree upon a translation.

On the accession of Edward VI, Grafton was appointed King's Printer, which gave him the sole right to print all Acts and Statutes. He had held the appointment for six years, when on the King's death, he printed a proclamation of the accession of Lady Jane Grey, in which he signed himself "Printer to the Queen." For this he was cast into prison by Mary I. John Cawood became Queen's Printer, and Grafton's career as a printer ended. While in prison, Grafton compiled An Abridgement of the Chronicles of England, which he published in 1563, to which five years later he added A Chronicle at Large.

Bibliographic references:

STC 12158; Bosanquet, E. F. Almanacks. cxciv; Fordham, Road-books, p.2.

Physical description:

Small Octavo; textblock measures 138 mm x 90 mm. Bound in 18th-century black straight-grained morocco, with gilt-tooled borders to boards (rebacked).

Signatures: A4 2A8 [-2A8] B-F8 G4.
Unfoliated, [55] (of 56) leaves, forming 110 pages.
Lacking a single leaf (2A8) in the Instruction for understanding the chronological tables, otherwise complete.

Printed mainly in black letter. Title within border of typographical ornaments, full-page schematic woodcut on verso of title (A1v) and a large astronomical woodcut on E5v. Several historiated and decorative woodcut tail-pieces. A few woodcut initials. Numerous tables in text.

Provenance:

Royal Prussian Meteorological Institute, Berlin, Germany (established in 1847): 19th-century rubber stamp to verso of title-page.

Condition:

Good antiquarian condition. Lacking one leaf. Binding slightly rubbed with some wear to corners, rebacked (a bit awkwardly). Top margin trimmed closely, occasionally cutting into some headlines, but with no loss to main text. Some scattered early manuscript marginalia, calculations and some pen-doodles, a few light ink smudges; title-page with a 17th-century manuscript calculation under the imprint date (figuring the book's age to be 91 in year 1673) . Occasional light soiling and minor spotting (final page with somewhat heavier soiling). Otherwise, generally clean and solid example of this charming little rarity.


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1582 Grafton Calendar Almanac Astrology Astronomy British Topography Elizabethan

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1582 Grafton Calendar Almanac Astrology Astronomy British Topography Elizabethan:
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