America (Philadelphia): Printed for the Subscribers (Robert Bell), 1770; i.e., 1770-1771. First American edition. Hardcover. Near fine. Item #21610
First edition printed in America. Three volumes. 8vo. viii,(ii),360;(xvi),374;(xlii),351,(lvii)pp., but with several errors in pagination as noted by Evans. Contemporary full sheep; spines with simple gilt rules and volume numbers in gilt; red leather lettering labels, gilt. A few notes by a former owner, including the beginning of his name on the title page of Volume 2 (Isaac Lew...) possibly a relative of Nathaniel Lewis and Mordecai Lewis who are listed on the List of Subscribers. This publication marks the substantial beginning of the introduction of European literature into America. Bell has published with it an address upon international copyright, the first on the subject. The long list of subscribers is a veritable who's who of early American history: John Adams, Jacob Giles, John Hancock (2 sets), Caesar Rodney, and so on: ''whose names posterity may respect because by these seasonable encouragements this American edition hath been accomplished at a price so moderate that the man of the woods as well as the man of the court may now solace himself with substantial delight." A two volume set was also printed that year. Evans, 11837; Sabin, 72003. Bell also brought out an edition of Blackstone in 1771. An exceedingly rare book; if the list of subscribers is a guide, only a few hundred sets were issued. The owner's name was clipped in binding, and so will likely remain just out of reach.