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BLITH, Walter.

The English Improover, or a new Survey of Husbandry.

Discovering to the kingdome, that some land, both arrable and pasture, may be advanced double or treeble; other land to a five or tenfold: and some to a twenty fold improvement: yea, some now not worth above one, or two shillings per acre, be made worth thirty, or forty, if not more. Clearly demonstrated from principles of sound reason, ingenuity, and late, but most certaine reall experiences. Held forth under six peeces of improvement. Viz. …

London: printed for I. Wright, 1649 Stock Code: 129024
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Creating farmland and improving yields

One of two 1649 editions, of unestablished priority. Walter Blith (1605-1654) has been called by Robert Trow-Smith "the greatest of the mid-seventeenth century writers" in the field of agriculture (English Husbandry, 1951). In this work, Blith advocates draining and making water meadows, inclosure, the use of manures, and plantations. "In spite of the currently fashionable interlarding of Biblical references and quotations his directions are surprisingly clear: but like many another he was too far in advance of his time to be generally heeded, and it was more than a century later before any real progress was made with the improvements he advocates" (Fussell, p. 53).

There were two editions in 1649 (most easily distinguished by their titles, the present "English Improover" and the separate "English Improver"). Wing placed this edition as the first, although "Improver" is also commonly cited as such. "Improver" is roughly double the pagination, and the Thomason Collection copy has a note of accession of December, both evidence that it is the second edition. Expanded third and fourth editions followed in 1652 and 1653.

Provenance: The Lawes Agricultural Library, with their shelf marks in pencil to the front pastedown and to the title page (acquired at their sale, no direct statement of library ownership). The library was assembled in the early 20th century by Sir John Russell, director of the Rothamsted agricultural research institution in Hertfordshire, and ranked as one of the finest English collections of agricultural material.

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Quarto (182 x 139 mm). Early 20th-century calf, spine lettered in gilt, covers panelled in gilt with gilt floral cornerpieces, gilt turn-ins and edges.


Contemporary annotation to p. 37 and a couple of minor corrections to text. Spine lightly sunned, minor running mark to first few leaves, closely cropped in places without loss. A very good copy.


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