BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
THE JAMES MARSHALL AND MARIE-LOUISE OSBORN
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Raphe Rabbards, (born ca. 1530). Inventions of military machines
and other devices. England; after 1591. Paper; 92 ff.; 108 x 162 mm. 1
column, 16 lines.
Italic script. Each description of an engine or other devices is
accompanied by a colored illustration. Bound in contemporary brown
calf, with gold tooling of Lyonese style with semis of eaglets.
F. 1 has signiture of W. Bayntun, Gray's Inn. Sold by Hodgson's
from Library of Rhys Jenkins in 1953. Purchased in 1953 from Percy J.
Dobell. Bequest of James M. Osborn, 1976.
Comments: Lines of several descriptions have been inked out. Infra-red
photographs of these lines are in special folder along with
correspondence, articles and other papers concerning the authorship of
the MS. Raphe Rabbards published "The Compound of Alchemy" by George
Ripley (see Osborn fa.16) in 1591, wherein he styles himself "Raph
Rabbards Gentleman, Studious and Expert in Archemicall Artes." In the
Dedicatory Epistle in the same book, he mentions that he has "lived
these threescore yeares and more" and that he has "these fortie yeares
amongst manie other most commendable exercises and inventions of so
warlike Engines, founde out divers devices of rare service, both for
Sea and land." Thus, Rabbards must have been born slightly before 1531,
and at about age twenty began his study of scientific things, mostly
war engines. The ten years preceding publication of Ripley's book, he
"spent unprofitably in a laborynth of law suites," after which he now
wishes "to return to those my delectable studies and servicable
exercises againe." In relation to Osborn a8, Rabbards comments in the
Preface to Ripley, to "worthy gentlemen of England and other learned
industrious students in the secrets of Philosopie" that "if I find
[this book] to be accepted according to my good meaning, I shall therby
be further encouraged to impart some other rare experiments of
Distillations and Fire-Workes of great service, not hitherto committed
in writing or put in practise by any of our nation." This apparently is
Osborn a8, the only known copy of the work, which must thus be dated
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