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Preston, William. Illustrations of masonry. Alexandria [VA]: Cottom & Stewart, 1804. 12mo (17 cm, 6.7"). 560 (i.e., 360) pp. (pagination erratic). $425.00
Much-read, oft-printed history of Freemasonry, here in => the uncommon "first American — from the tenth London edition," per the title-page, which according to Walgren almost certainly preceded the "first American improved" edition of the same year. Preston (1742–1818) was a Scottish author and editor whose research into Masonic instruction and traditions led him both to publishing this work (originally, in 1772) and also to becoming deeply involved in the schism between the Ancients and the Moderns.
Following the history — which includes architectural discussion of various Masonic buildings — is "A Collection of Odes, Anthems, and Songs."
Sabin 65383; Shaw & Shoemaker 7115; Walgren, Freemasonry, 823. Contemporary mottled sheep, rebacked with speckled sheep, spine with gilt-stamped leather title and author labels and gilt-ruled raised bands; original leather moderately worn and stained. Front fly-leaf with pencilled ownership inscription dated 1850. Pages age-toned, with occasional mild foxing and a handful of small, early pencilled marks of emphasis. => A solid copy of the probable first U.S. appearance of a work that made quite a splash among those curious about the Masons. (40392) Please RESHELVE This.
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