First edition in this format, sumptuously illustrated, of Johnson's celebrated biographical encyclopedia of infamous criminals.
"Much plundered by writers and film directors" – David Cordingly
One of the most important sources for the Golden Age of Piracy, this work is responsible for describing many of the iconic images we associate with pirates, including the peg leg, the buried treasure, and the Jolly Roger. First published in 1724, Johnson's book borrows heavily from Smith's LIVES OF NOTED HIGHWAYMEN, ROBBERS, THIEVES AND PICKPOCKETS (1714), but adds significant material specifically on pirates. The work includes biographical sketches of Henry Morgan, Blackbeard, and Captain Avery. Cordingly says "Johnson took most of his information from the transcripts of pirate trials and from the reports in contemporary newspapers [...] The vivid detail of places and conversations suggests that he also interviewed seamen and former pirates." The name "Captain Johnson" is a pseudonym; his identity is unknown and still debated, with some scholars believing the author is Daniel Defoe. A beautiful copy of a defining work in pirate literature.
Read more: Cordingly, Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates.
London: J. Janeway, 1734. Full title: A General History of the Lives and Adventures Of the Most Famous Highwaymen, Murderers, Street-Robbers, &c. To which is added, A Genuine Account of the Voyages and Plunders of the most Notorious Pyrates. Folio. 14.25'' x 8.75''. Nineteenth-century full red goatskin, gilt device stamped on each board with motto "Ride Thro / Be Trew" and thistles incorporated in design, boards triple-ruled in gilt, raised bands, spine lettered and elaborately ornamented in gilt, heavily gilt-stamped dentelles, watered silk endpapers stamped with thistles and rampant lions, all edges gilt. Title page printed in red and black. Index at rear. Engraved frontispiece and 25 full-page engravings. pages. Housed in custom slipcase. With the gilt-stamped device of Robert Tyndall Hamilton Bruce (1847-1899), an Edinburgh-based businessman and art collector. Light scuff to front board, not affecting gilt; expert marginal paper repairs to a number of leaves.
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