London: Printed by John Leake for Abel Swalle. 1693. First edition, (450 x 300mm.), 18th Century Red Morocco, Elaborately Gilt Spine, Gilt Panels on Both Covers, title printed in red and black with Scottish Arms, with 57 fine double-page engraved and etched plates, mounted on guards, numerous large armorial vignettes in prelim.
One of 25 larger and fine paper copies.
A Splendid Copy in a Fine Binding of the Most Important Illustrated Book of the 17th Century Concerning Scotland. The Theatrum is the first book with town prospects published in Britain.
Slezer, a native of Germany, settled in Scotland in 1671, and combined the professional duties of Chief Engineer for Scotland (also Surveyor of His Majesties Stores and Magazines, and subsequently Lieutenant of Artillery as well), with the ambition of delineating the towns and great buildings of the country. “The book was a lavish volume of..plates accompanied by written descriptions, and constitutes the first systematic illustrated record of Scotland, showing – as no other documents do – what the country looked like 300 years ago.” (Cavers)
It was reprinted several times, the latest in 1880, but the first edition was the only one produced under Slezer’s direct supervision, the only one to print the coats of arms, and provides the best strikes of the plates. The text was written with the full collaboration of Sir Robert Sibbald.
This is one of 25 ‘larger and fine paper copies’
Keith Cavers, A Vision of Scotland (H.M.S.O., 1993).