SKINNER, Stephen.

Etymologicon Linguae Anglicanae, seu explicatio vocum Anglicarum etymologica ex propriis fontibus…

Londini: Typis T. Roycroft, & prostant venales apud H. Brome…R. Clavel, B. Tooke…& T. Sawbridge…1671

Large folio, (804) pages. Collation as in ESTC. With the imprimatur leaf before the title, woodcut head-pieces and initials, text in double columns. Contemporary mottled calf, rebacked with morocco (as many books in the Gaddesden Library were), spine gilt in compartments, endpapers replaced. Blank recto of imprimatur leaf and final blank page dust-soiled, dampstain at top of first and last few leaves but mostly very faint, slit in lower margin of 4U1 just touching one letter of text, otherwise a clean and wide-margined copy on excellent, noisy paper. Bookplate of the Gaddesden Library.

FIRST EDITION, THE EDITOR’S COPY. “Skinner left behind him several philological treatises in manuscript which were enumerated by Wood. These were edited by Thomas Henshaw and published in London in 1671 under the title of Etymologicon Linguæ Anglicanae” (ODNB). Thomas Henshaw (1618–1700), alchemist and founder member of the Royal Society, formed the basis of the Halsey library at Gaddesden Place. His only surviving child married Thomas Halsey of Gaddesden in Hertfordshire and they were the principal beneficiaries of his will. This book remained in the family until sold by Forum Auctions in September 2021, lot 79. It is not inscribed by Henshaw (the endpapers have been replaced), but very few books in the library were. The importance of Skinner’s Etymologicon is that he influenced later lexicographical works, including that of Samuel Johnson who gratefully acknowledged his indebtedness to Skinner in the preface to his Dictionary (1755). After the main body of the book are botanical and geographical etymological appendices, and a long appendix of old words which may be regarded as the first Middle English dictionary. Wing S3947.


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