Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation, The
London: George G. Harrap & Co., 1931. Item #02178
Bound By Birdsall
"I Envy No Body But Him, and Him Only, That Catches More Fish Than I Do"
[RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator]. Walton, Izaak. [BIRDSALL of Northampton, Bindery]. The Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation. Being a Discourse of Rivers, Fishponds, Fish and Fishing not unworthy the Perusal of most Anglers. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. London: George G. Harrap & Co., .
First trade edition. Octavo (9 3/4 x 7 1/2 in; 247 x 190 mm). 223, (1) pp. Twelve color plates, and twenty-five black and white illustrations. Title printed in green and black.
Bound c. 1931 by Birdsall of Northhampton for Charles Scribner's Sons in full forest green morocco with triples fillets border and central varicolored portrait onlay of Izaak Walton. Gilt framed and ornamented compartments. Top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Broad turn-ins with gilt rolls. Original endpapers preserved. A fine copy. In the binder's green cloth dust jacket, lettered in gilt on spine.
The roots of Birdsall of Northampton "stretch back to the early eighteenth century but it was in 1792 that John Lacy's Northampton bindery was acquired by William Birdsall, continuing in his family until 1961...In Birdsall's heyday, Gerring (Notes on Bookbinding, 1899) reported a staff of 250 engaged in making ladies handbags, fancy boxes, and stationary; as well as all types of bookbinding. The firm seemed always ready to experiment and careful records and samples were kept by Richard Birdsall, great-great-nephew of the founder, until he died in 1909...The firm's collection of over 3,000 finishing tools passed to the University of Toronto" (Maggs, Bookbinding in the British Isles II, #262, and #321).
Izaak Walton (1593-1683), “English biographer, who is best known for The Compleat Angler (1653), a classic guide to the joys of fishing with over 300 new printings. It combines practical information about angling with folklore. The story of three friends, traveling through the English countryside, is enlivened by occasional songs, ballads, quotations from several writers, and glimpses of an idyllic and now lost rural life…The Compleat Angler was a combination of manual and meditation. ‘Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learnt.’ (The Compleat Angler) The work became one of the most reprinted books in the history of British letters. The story is of three sportsmen: a fisherman (Piscator, who is Walton himself), a huntsman (Venator), and a fowler (Auceps). They travel along the river Lea on the first day in May and discuss the relative merits of their favorite pastimes. Auceps tells how ‘the very birds of the air, those that be not Hawks, are both so many and so useful and pleasant to mankind, that I must not let them pass without some observations. They both feed and refresh him; feed him with their choice bodies, and refresh him with their heavenly voices.’ In his own turn Venator defends hunting: ‘Hunting trains up the younger nobility to the use of manly exercises in their riper age. What more manly exercise than hunting the Wild Boar, the Stag, the Buck, the Fox, or the Hare? How doth it preserve health, and increase strength and activity!’ And finally Piscator reminds his friends: ‘I might tell you that Almighty God is said to have spoken to a fish, but never to a beast; that he hath made a whale a ship, to carry and set his prophet, Jonah, safe on the appointed shore.’ Walton drew his work on Nicholas Breton's (c. 1545-1626) fishing idyll Wits Trenchmour (1597). The second edition was largely rewritten and in the fifth edition Walton wrote about fly-fishing on the river Dove, a subject the author himself knew little about. The last [i.e., fifth] edition was published in 1676 and included additional material by Charles Cotton (Instructions how to Angle for a Trout or Grayling in a Clear Stream) and Colonel Robert Venables's The Experienced Angler, or Angling Improved. Walton called this work The Universal Angler. He had taught Cotton but never met Venables” (“Izaak Walton (1593-1683)” at Pegasos—A Literature Related Resource Site).
Latimore & Haskell, pp. 66-67. Riall, p. 175.