London: T. Davies, 1774. First edition. Hardcover. Octavo. 399pp. (+ 7 pages of publishers ads at the front). Brown leather boards with gilt lettering on the spine. Frontispiece portrait engravings of Elias Ashmole and William Lilly. The work serves as the combined autobiography of these two highly esteemed English Astrologers of the 17th century, taken from their own personal diaries and letters. Page 214, features an in-text chart of a solar eclipse, while p.249 contains an astrological chart from the exact time of the death of King Charles I. The lower margin of p. 45 contains a note in ink from the previous owner R.C. Smith, dated 1821. The final section consists of an appendix of the letters to and from Elias Ashmole. Binding with front and back boards detached. Interior with some light sporadic water stains and foxing throughout, with text mostly unaffected. Book block tight. Binding in poor, interior in good+ condition overall. poor to g+. Item #42843
Elias Ashmole (1617 – 1692) was a celebrated English antiquary, politician, officer of arms, astrologer and student of alchemy. Ashmole supported the royalist side during the English Civil War, and at the restoration of Charles II he was rewarded with several lucrative offices. The library and collection of curiosities that he had amassed throughout his life was donated to the University of Oxford, upon his death, and forms the basis of the Ashmolean Museum.
William Lilly (1602 – 1681) has been described as "the most abused as well as the most celebrated astrologer of the seventeenth century". In 1644, during the English Civil War, he published the first of many popular astrological texts, and in 1647 he published Christian Astrology, a huge compendium of astrological technique. This was the first of its kind to be printed in the English language rather than Latin, and is said to have tutored "a nation in crisis in the language of the stars". By 1659, Lilly's fame was widely acknowledged and his annual almanac was achieving sales of around 30,000 copies a year.