TOMKINS, Charles (c.1750-c.1810)
The British Volunteer: or, A General History of the Formation and Establishment of the Volunteer and Associated Corps, enrolled for the Protection and Defence of Great Britain.
London: T. Egerton [et al.]; printed by C. Whittingham, 1799. Quarto. 12 engraved plates (6 colored aquatint full-length portraits, 5 hand-colored plates of military maneuvers [2 folding], and 1 hand-colored folding map of the United Provinces), engraved by and after Tomkins. Repaired tear to the map.
Contemporary mottled sheep, expertly rebacked, period marbled endpapers and edges
Provenance: Colonel Paul Le Mesurier (flyleaf inscription, see plate 1 and p.5)
A beautifully illustrated and rare work on British military costume.
Organized to defend Britain against Napoleonic invasion, this short-lived volunteer army (1794-1805) consisted of 300,000 members at its peak. The present publication closely followed an appeal for more volunteers in the face of the threat posed by Napoleon. This example an important association copy, with provenance to Colonel Paul le Mesurier (1755-1805), officer of the Honourable Artillery Company, who is depicted in the first portrait plate. The portrait plates represent officers and uniforms of the Honourable Artillery Corps, the Norfolk Rangers, the Loyal Pimlico Volunteers, the Pendennis Artillery Volunteers, the Surrey Yeoman Cavalry, and the Bloomsbury and Inns of Court Volunteers. "Patriotism found another outlet in the formation of Volunteer corps and bodies of militia all over the country, which led to the publication of such books as Rowlandson's Loyal Volunteers (1799) and The British Volunteer of the same year; these camps, as well as the foreign campaigns, may explain some part of the singular demand for books of naval and military, as well as national, costume, so characteristic of the beginning of the nineteenth century" (Prideaux). Originally published in monthly parts, the work ceased following the sixth part, accounting for the abrupt ending of the text of the "General Military Dictionary" in the rear, i.e. following page 24 (as in all extant copies). Very rare.
Not in Abbey, Colas or Tooley.