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Fencing familiarized: or a New Treatise on the Art of Small Sword.

A New Edition, Revised, Corrected, and Augmented by an original Set of Prints.

London: John Bell, 1780 Stock Code: 135146
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"Perhaps, after Angelo, the most popular master of the small sword in London"

Second edition, first published in 1771, of this fine work on the use of the short sword, most attractively illustrated with a new set of plates; the dedication is also new (dated 18 February 1780) and the dedicatee is Charles Stanhope, third earl of Harrington, army officer, who concluded his career with the colonelcy of the first Life Guards. Olivier remarks Harrington's "perfect knowledge of the Art of Fencing"; no mere flummery, as Harrington made a significant contribution to the development of the armed forces "by his introduction of a sword that, meeting with the approval of the duke of York, became the standard army sword in the early nineteenth century" (ODNB).

A contemporary emendation to both titles notes Olivier's change of address from 8 Serle Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, to another location just around the corner: "Remov'd Bell yard, Carey Street. Lincoln's Inn". This elucidates the statement made by that other great fencing master of the age, Henry Angelo, that Olivier's school was "a favourite with the benchers". Egerton Castle notes that "Olivier, who kept a flourishing school... was perhaps, after Angelo, the most popular master of the small sword in London. His work is very sound, and thoroughly justifies its French title, as it contains a simplified system, shorn of all unnecessary and obsolete details".

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Octavo (205 x 130 mm). Contemporary speckled calf neatly rebacked with the original spine laid down, red sheep label, flat spine divided by metope-and-pentaglyph rolls, compartments framed by scrolling foliate tools and filled by a foliate lozenge, gilt milled edge roll.


14 engraved plates (all but one folding, with tissue-guards) by William Blake (facing p. 44), D. Jenkins, John Goldar, and Charles Grignon after James Roberts; 2 engraved coat-of-arms of the Earl of Harrington to Dedication; letterpress in English and Fre


Inner hinge cracked at title page but sound, scattered foxing and offsetting, plate VII expertly reinforced at fore-edge; a lovely copy.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

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Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

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