Fine Books and Manuscripts

Fine Books and Manuscripts

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 33. Locke, John | On "the certainty and the adequacy of human knowledge".

From the Library of Clayre and Jay Michael Haft

Locke, John | On "the certainty and the adequacy of human knowledge"

Lot Closed

December 16, 07:33 PM GMT


15,000 - 25,000 USD

Lot Details


From the Library of Clayre and Jay Michael Haft

Locke, John

An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. London: Eliz[abeth] Holt, for Thomas Basset, 1690

Folio (325 x 194 mm). Some minor spotting to title and the occasional stray usually faint spot elsewhere, but a clean copy. Blue straight-grain morocco by Bedford, edges gilt. Cloth slipcase.

First edition, traditional first issue with the imprint as above.

Locke worked for nearly two decades on his investigation of "the certainty and the adequacy of human knowledge," concluding that "though knowledge must necessarily fall short of complete comprehension, it can at least be 'sufficient'; enough to convince us that we are not at the mercy of pure chance, and can to some extent control our own destiny" (PMM). The significance of his Essay was immediately recognized: it quickly ran to several editions and was popularized on the Continent by French translations. "Few books in the literature of philosophy have so widely represented the spirit of the age and country in which they appeared, or have so influenced opinion afterwards" (Fraser).

Richard Aaron's John Locke (3rd edition, 1971, Appendix II) signals a further difference between issues—namely the correction in ink of two words, in all the copies of the first issue examined, the word "certainly" on the last page of the "Epistle Dedicatory" corrected to "extremely," and the word "some" inserted before "Discovery" on the first page of the "Epistle to the Reader." Both are present here, though the former is very faded.


Wing L2739; ESTC R9934; Attig 228; Grolier, English 36; Grolier, One Hundred 72; Pforzheimer 600; PMM 164


George Abraham Crawley (bookplate); Charles MacGarvey (bookplate); Jay Haft