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CALCOTT, WELLINS. - A Candid Disquisition of the Principles and Practices of the Most Antient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons; ...

[Boston] London; Printed: Reprinted and sold by Brother William M'Alpine, Boston 1772. Octavo sheep (publisher's? - the endpapers seem to be on identical paper to the text stock; a little scuffed); [4],xiv,[2],256pp. Generally foxed but still a very good, quite crisp copy; absolutely original. An inscription erased from inside the front board but handsomely inscribed on the second blank: 'Stephen Meeds's Book 1774'. ¶ 'A veritable gem for English Masonic collectors to look out for (it may be for years, it may be forever), as it is excessively rare'. (Sale catalogue of Charles W. Frederickson, sold in New York by Bangs in 1897). Maybe a little hyperbolic as I have found three copies sold in auction in the 20th century; the last one (1994, miscatalogued as London 1772) was cheap ($250) but seemed a pretty horrible copy. Calcott's book was first published in London in 1769 and it both superseded the first authoritive text, Anderson's 'Constitutions' (1723 and revised in 1738), and did much to heal the schism between Ancient and Modern Freemasonry that lasted into the early 19th century. Calcott himself remains obscure, he seems to have been something of a mendicant scholar, of whom Mackey said: 'It is a romantic fact ... that words written down in 1750 or 1760 by this only half-known, gentle, much wandering man, two or three times described in Lodge Minutes as 'in unfortunate circumstances,' should afterwards be on the tongues of millions of men who have never so much as heard his name!' Mackey says that he was known to be in America twice, in the Carolinas, and it is possible that he visited New York and Boston. The Frederickson catalogue goes on to claim this as perhaps the first 'purely' American Masonic book of any importance. Now this is disingenuous; it doesn't seem likely that neither Frederickson nor Bangs' cataloguer didn't know of Benjamin Franklin's 1734 printing of Anderson's 'Constitutions'. So the claim then hinges on the American content of the two books. In between all I can find are Joseph Green's satirical squibs printed in Boston and a Masonic songbook briefly believed to be printed in Quebec in 1765 but actually printed in Scotland. We have a list of 405 subscribers in the Provinces of Massachusetts, New York, and Nova Scotia, the Colony of Connecticut; as well as the details of the three Boston Lodges. And we have nine songs not included in the London edition. By the way, the American Antiquarian Society notes that the only oratorio libretto that they can find printed in America before 1815 is 'Solomon's Temple' printed here, just before the extra nine songs. Stephen Meeds is listed as a private in the Westford company of minutemen who turned out for the first battle of the revolution on April 19th 1775 (Joseph Warren was, by the way again, a Grand Master and subscribed for six copies, and Paul Revere and fellow rider John Pulling are among the subscribers to this book). He reappears here and there among revolutionary documents: he signed the Association Test in Portsmouth in 1776 and he is listed as a Lieutenant of Marines on the Portsmouth privateer 'Raleigh' in 1777.
AUD 1350.00 [Appr.: EURO 847.25 US$ 960.77 | £UK 723.5 | JP¥ 107172] Book number 8293

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