The Compleat Angler. The Lives of Donne, Wotton, Hooker, Herbert & Sanderson; with Love & Truth, & Miscellaneous Writings - Izaak Walton, Charles Cotton 1929 - The Nonesuch Press, London - Number 1293 of 1600 limited copies. First Thus, Illustrated by Thomas Poulton and Charles Sigrist ‘Indeed, my good scholar, we may say of angling, as Dr. Boteler said of strawberries,
" Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did ";
and so, if I might be judge, God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling
.’

A lovely example of this handsomely produced edition of Izaak Walton's works, printed on fine laid paper, and edited by Geoffrey Keynes. Housed in the original marbled slipcase.

Wonderfully illustrated with six copperplate portraits of Walton, Donne, Wotton, Hooker, Herbert, and Sanderson, engraved by A. Alexander and Son with tissue; ten drawings of fish and lead weight by Charles Sigrist printed from line blocks and hand-coloured through stencil by the Curwen Press; and two seals of Donne redrawn by Thomas Poulton and printed in red.
  ‘It breathes the very spirit of innocence, purity, and simplicity of the heart. There are many choice old verses interspersed in it; it would sweeten a man's temper at any time to read it’ – Charles Lamb in his letter to Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The Compleat Angler was first published in 1653, but Walton continued to add to it for a quarter of a century. It is a celebration of the art and spirit of fishing in prose and verse. By the fifth edition of 1676 the thirteen chapters of the original had grown to twenty-one, and a second part was added by his friend and brother angler Charles Cotton, who took up Venator where Walton had left him and completed his instruction in fly fishing and the making of flies. As of 2014, The Compleat Angler is the third most published books running to almost 300 editions, only topped by the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Izaak Walton (1593-1683) was the son of a Stafford alehouse keeper. We know little of his early life but around 1611, he was apprenticed to Thomas Grinsell, of the Ironmonger’s Company. Walton completed his apprenticeship in 1617 and by 1624 had his own business a linen draper’s shop in Fleet, Street, London. In 1636, he married Rachel Flood and they had seven children. Rachel died in 1640, preceded by six of their children. The seventh child died two years later. Izaak married again in 1647 to Anne Ken and they had three children, two of whom lived into their sixties. After acquiring the draper’s shop, Walton held several public posts in his parish of St Dunstan’s in the West and became a senior member of the Ironmongers Company.

Whilst Izaak Walton was born of fairly humble origins, he had friends and contemporaries of social distinction. His first book was published in 1640 and was a biography of John Donne, the churchman and poet. In May 1663,
The Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation was published, it was re-issued four times during his life and the final edition in 1676 included a supplement on fly fishing written by his very close friend, Charles Cotton. Walton and Cotton spent many hours together, fishing on the River Dove.

Walton’s wealth increased during his lifetime, and he bought Halfhead Farm at Shallowford, where the Izaak Walton Cottage stands today. Walton never lived in the cottage but rented it out. Today, the cottage is a museum where the life and times of Izaak Walton is depicted. The museum also contains many items relating to the history of angling. Izaak Walton died at the age of 90 and is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Provenance: from Gelber Lilienthal Inc., Booksellers of San Francisco, with their bookseller label to rear endpaper.

Reference: Coigney,
Izaak Walton A New Bibliography 127. Oxford University Press. BBC Radio 4. Oliver, A new chronicle of The Compleat Angler, 268.

Octavo (13.5 x 21.5 cm). pp. [6] x 631 [5].
This edition consists of 1100 copies for sale in England and 500 copies for sale in the United States.
  Publisher’s full Niger morocco, with marbled endpapers, front board lettered in gilt, spine in six compartments lettered in gilt, top edge gilt, fore and bottom edges untrimmed.   Condition: Near fine, spine slightly darkened, some occasional rubbing and darkening to binding, internally fine and unopened, in near fine slipcase.   Ref: 108475   Price: HK$ 3,500