Lacy Scott & Knight are pleased to announce the sale of this single-owner collection of 17th, 18th and 19th century European and American almanacs. The collection includes railway companions, atlases, horoscopes, almanacs tailored for gentlemen, ladies, and children, loose leaves, Houses of Parliament and Court registers, a satirical anti-Quaker almanac from 1680, and miniature and girdle (folded) examples. An almanac is a yearly publication that includes lists and/or tables of information, often arranged in chronological order. The earliest European examples tended to be dedicated to astronomical data and horoscopes, but they often include weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, tide tables, and various statistics such as the times of the rising and setting of the sun and moon, eclipses, hours of full tide, church festivals, and so on.
The earliest texts considered to be almanacs have been found in the Near East and date back to the middle of the second millennium BCE. These mainly featured tables of planetary periods which were produced in order to predict lunar and planetary phenomena relating to ancient Babylonian astronomy. Similar treatises called Zij were later composed in medieval Islamic astronomy.
For many centuries, predicting the movements of the stars and tides, and predicting the future were still interrelated in people's minds. Early almanacs therefore contained general horoscopes, as well as more earthly information. Solomon Jarchus created such an almanac in 1150 and considered to be among the first modern almanacs.
Gutenberg published the first printed almanac in 1457 (eight years before the famous Bible). By the second half of the 16th century, annual almanacs were being produced in English. This collection contains eight leaves from 'A Prognostication' by Gabriel Frende, which was published in 1589 (lot 541 right). In the 17th century English almanacs were bestsellers; second only to the Bible. In British America, William Pierce of Harvard College published the first American almanac entitled, Almanac Calculated for New England for the year 1639 Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Almanacs continued to develop and specialise through to the 20th and 21st century, covering all aspects of geography, recipes, politics, economics, medicine and science etc. The most popular examples in recent years tend to be sporting examples; Wisden's Cricketer's Almanacks have recently celebrated their 150th anniversary and are still considered the 'Bible of Cricket'. In fact, Lacy Scott & Knight sold a collection of Wisden's for £7,800.