Before the iPhone, Uber, GPS…

847F John Playford ca. 1655-1685/6.

Vade mecum: or, The necessary pocket companion. Containing, I. Sir dsc_0005Samuel Morland’s Perpetual almanack, … curiously graved in copper; with many useful tables proper thereto. II. The years of each king’s reign from the Norman Conquest, compar’d with the years of Christ. III. Directions for every month in the year, what is to be done in the orchard, kitchin, and flower-gardens. IV. The reduction of weights, measures, and coins; wherein is a table of the assize of bread. V. A table wherein any number of farthings, half-pence, pence, or shillings, are ready cast up; … VI. The interest and rebate of money; the forebearance, discompt, and purchase of annuities. VII. The rates of post-letters, both in-land and out-land. VIII. An account of the penny-post. IX. The principal roads in England. X. The names of the counties, cities, and borough-towns in England and Wales, … XI. The usual and authorized rates or fairs of coach-men, carmen, and water-men. XII. Tables for casting up nobles, marks, guineas and broad gold.


London G. Sawbridge, 1708.                            SOLD

Oblong  Octavo 7.75 x 3.5 inches.  [A]2 [B]4 C-Ee4 Hh-Ii4

This copy is bound in its original full calf binding,recently rebacked.

This Vade mecum is bound with Interest in Epitome by Israel Falgate At the Bank of England .Sir S. Morland’s Perpetual almanack … — 2. The years of each king’s reign from the Norman Conquest compar’d with the years of Christ — 3. Directions for every month in the year, what is to be done in the orchard, kitchin, and flower-gardens — 4. The dsc_0002reduction of weights, measures, and coins … — 5. A table wherein any number of farthings, half-pence, pence or shillings are ready cast up … — 6. The interest and rebate of money, the forbearance, discompt, and purchase of annuities — 7. The rates of post-letters, both inland and outland — 8. An account of the penny-post — 9. The principal roads of England … — 10. The names of the counties, cities, and borough-towns in England and Wales, with the number of knights, citizens, and burgesses chosen therein to serve in Parliament — 11. The usual and authorized rates or fares of coachmen, carmen, and watermen.

John Playford was a “Bookseller, publisher, and member of the Stationers’ Company, Playford published books on music theory, instruction books for several instruments, and psalters with tunes for singing in churches. And this Vade Mecum.  He is perhaps best known today for his publication of The English Dancing Master in 1651, during the period of the Puritan-dominated Commonwealth (later editions were known as ‘The Dancing Master’). This work contains both the music and instructions for English country dances. This came about after Playford, working as a war correspondent, was captured by Cromwell’s men and told that, if he valued his freedom (as a sympathiser with the King), he might consider a change of career. Although many of the tunes in the book are attributed to him today, he probably did not write any of them. Most were popular melodies that had existed for years.

During the Restoration period, on the other hand, he endeavoured to encourage serious tastes. In 1662 he dedicated the ‘Cantica Sacra’ to Queen Henrietta Maria. He regretfully observed in 1666 that ‘all solemn musick was much laid aside, being esteemed too heavy and dull for the light heels and brains of this nimble and wanton age,’ and he therefore ventured to ‘new string the harp of David’ by issuing fresh editions of his ‘Skill of Music,’ with music for church service, in 1674, and, in 1677, ‘The Whole Book of Psalms’ in which he gave for the first time the church tunes to the cantus part.[1]

In typographical technique Playford’s most original improvement was the invention in 1658 of ‘the new-ty’d note.’ These were quavers or semiquavers connected in pairs or series by one or two horizontal strokes at the end of their tails, the last note of the group retaining in the early examples the characteristic up-stroke. Hawkins observes that the Dutch printers were the first to follow the lead in this detail. In 1665 he caused every semibreve to be barred in the dance tunes; in 1672 he began engraving on copper plates. dsc_0218Generally, however, Playford clung to old methods; he recommended the use of lute tablature to ordinary violin players; and he resisted, in an earnest letter of remonstrance (1673), Thomas Salmon’s proposals for a readjustment of clefs. Playford’s printers were: Thomas Harper, 1648–1652; William Godbid, 1658–1678; Ann Godbid and her partner, John Playford the younger, 1679–1683; John Playford alone, 1684-1685.[1]

dsc_0219By 1665 Playford and his wife moved from the Temple to a large house opposite Islington Church, where Mrs. Playford kept a boarding-school until her death in October 1679. By November 1680, Playford had established himself in a house in Arundel Street ‘near the Thames side, the lower end, over against the George.’ He suffered from a long illness in that year, and retired, leaving the main running of the business to his son Henry (see below). He brought out, in his own name, a collection of catches in 1685; ‘The Dancing Master’ of 1686 was the last work for which he was responsible.[1]

He apparently died in Arundel Street about November 1686. His will was written on 5 Nov. 1686, neither signed nor witnessed, and only proved in August 1694, the handwriting being identified by witnesses. He was probably buried in the Temple Church as he desired, although the registers do not record his name. Henry Purcell and John Blow attended the funeral. Several elegies upon his death were published; one written by Nahum Tate, and set to music by Henry Purcell, appeared in 1687.[1]

Playford’s original compositions were few and slight, and included some vocal and instrumental pieces in the following collections: ‘Catch … or the Musical Companion,’ 1667; ‘Choice Songs,’ 1673; ‘Cantica Sacra,’ 1674; ‘The Whole Book of Psalms and ‘The Harmonicon’.[1]”

There are only three copies listed  in ESTC (Cambridge, Christ Church Oxford, University of Tasmania) ESTC,; T177276