Meyrick’s Arms and Armour

Posted on 5th April 2019 by simonbeattie

If you’re on the mailing list, you may have already seen our latest list of recent acquisitions, which includes everything from Anderson’s Cook in the original wrappers (c.1785), to one of the earliest books to be printed in Russian Braille (1886). One of our favourites is a (very) large quarto with over 150 full-page lithographs of arms and armour from the collection of Samuel Rush Meyrick, published in 1836.

How very Monty Python of the artist.

The present edition, published in Berlin, is the first and only edition in German, and is scarce in such nice condition. The original, Joseph Skelton’s Engraved Illustrations of antient Arms and Armour, was published in two volumes in London in 1830.

Both feature lithographs of arms and armour from the collection of Samuel Rush Meyrick. Meyrick (1783–1848) was an antiquary and historian who began to acquire his famous collection in the 1820s. His obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine describes the collection as ‘filling not only “the garrets, the staircase and the back drawing room” but as even encroaching “upon the bedrooms”’–i.e, he must have been the medieval armour equivalent of a bibliomaniac.

Happily, however, he was less of a hoarder and more of a scholar-librarian, keeping the collection open to students and scholars. In 1825 it was visited by the artists Eugène Delacroix and Richard Bonnington, who both drew items from the collection and made use of them in later works. Meyrick also helped, among others, Sir Walter Scott in collecting arms and armour to decorate his new house at Abbotsford (Oxford DNB).

For more on this and other recent acquisitions, check out the PDF here.

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