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Art of Swimming. First Edition

THEVENOT, Melchisedech
Date: 1699

Illustrated by Proper Figures with Advice for Bathing. By Monsieur Thevenot. Done out of French. To which is prefixed a Prefatory Discourse concerning Artificial Swimming, or keeping ones self above Water by several small Portable Engines, in cases of danger.40 rather charming and naive etched plates of various sizes, each one featuring a naked male swimmer in a different pose, somewhat erratically numbered between I and XXXIX (three slightly cropped at the the fore-edge, one inverted).First Edition in English. 12mo. [22], 60pp. Early 19th.-century calf, covers with blindtooled border (joints slightly rubbed; endleaves watermarked 1813).London: for Dan. Brown; T. Leigh and D. Midwinter; and Robert Knaplock,

Wing T888. Without the half-title or the four leaves of advertisements found in some copies. In some copies Midwinter's name appears before Leigh in the imprint.Although this work is translated from Thevenot's L'Art de Nager work the text is derived one of the earliest books to appear on the subject, Everard Digby's De arte natandi (London, 1578) "whereof I have here made some use" as Thevenot admits in the preface. Digby's text was "gathered" or adapted into English by Christopher Middleton as A Shorte Introduction for to Learne to Swim (London, 1595). William Percey's The Compleat Swimmer (London, 1658) is also adapted from Digby's text, although without acknowledgement.The charming plates are careful reversed copies from the first edition of Thevenot's version (Paris, 1696) which were derived in turn from the woodcuts in Digby's 1578 text and illustrate how to enter the water, dive, perform a number of strokes or maneouvres such as "the Leap of the Goat" and "the Agility of the Dolphin", float and even how to cut one's toenails while floating. Thevenot was the first to describe the breaststroke which was to become the most common stroke for centuries. The work proved to be very popular in France and was reprinted many times but the only other early English reprints were in 1764 and 1789.Provenance: Donald and Mary Hyde [Viscountess Eccles], with label.

Stock Code: EA9329

 

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