The Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation. Being a discourse of Rivers, Fish Ponds, Fish and Fishing. And Instructions how to angle for a Trout or Grayling in a clear Stream. With an Essay by Sir Edward Grey. - Izaak Walton, Charles Cotton, Sir Edward Grey, George A. B. Dewar (editor) 1902 - Freemantle & Company & J. B. Lippincott Company, London & Philadelphia - The Winchester Edition A superb example of the beautifully presented two volume Winchester Edition, containing thirty full page etchings by D. Y. Cameron and William Strang, and forty two in-text engravings, and a folding facsimile of Izaak Walton’s Last Will and Testament.

The most enduring distinction of the
Complete Angler is the one cast off by its subtitle The Contemplative Man's Recreation with its graceful evocations of a life free from hurly-burly in the company of friends intent on physical and moral sustenance. The range of perspectives that Walton brings to bear on his rural descriptions embrace literature, poetry, music and anecdote.
  The Text of this Edition is an exact reprint in spelling and punctuation of the Fifth (1676) Edition; the last published in Walton’s lifetime

‘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 book 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 1963,
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: Volume I: W. L. Richards, stamped in black ink, and the signature of (illegible) Ardley in black ink.

References: Coigney, Izaak Walton A New Bibliography 215. Oxford University Press. Oliver, A new chronicle of The Compleat Angler, 187.

Two quarto volumes. pp. lxvii [1] 169 [3]; [2] ix [1] 232. In publisher’s green cloth, spines lettered in gilt, armourial emblem blocked in gilt to front panels, top edges gilt. Volume I with the Lippincott imprint on the spine, volume II with the Freemantle imprint. (Full Page Etchings - 15; 15. In-text engravings - 17; 25).
  Condition: Near fine, toning to edges, rear hinges starting, front pastedown of both volumes show very faint evidence of previous bookplate.   Ref: 108611   Price: HK$ 4,500