- [Commelin, Jerome]
- Rerum Britannicarum id est Angliae, Scotiae, vicinarumque insularum ac regionum scriptores vetustiores ac praecipui. Heidelberg: [apud Hieronymum Commelinum] 1587
- ink, paper, leather
First edition of the first book published by the great scholar Jerome Commelin (Hieronymus Commelinus). It compiles texts of Bede, Gildas, Froissart, William of Newburgh and Geoffrey of Monmouth.
This copy was part of the library of d'Ewes sold to Robert Harley in 1703 for £500, and the manuscripts passed with the Harleian Manuscripts to the British Library. Printed books from this library are rare especially with the original clasps.
On the verso of the last leaf, are the signatures of S. Wykes and Nicholas Bourne, wardens of the Stationers' Company and Henry W[h]alley, a clerk at the Company. The Company was a trade guild given a royal charter in 1557 to regulate the various professions associated with the publishing industry (printers, bookbinders, booksellers, publishers...) in England. The books were inscribed in the Stationers' Register to allow publishers to document their right to produce a particular printed work, and constituted an early form of copyright law.
D'Ewes probably projected to publish a new edition of the Rerum Britannicarum. The Stationers' Company was mostly used for manuscripts and these inscriptions are of the utmost rarity on printed books.