I spent some time most profitably on Saturday at the Guildhall Library’s inaugural Open Day. It was nice unexpectedly to bump into fellow Members and as far as I can tell, the event was a resounding success. We congratulate the library and look forward to many more of these.
I took in a talk by Assistant Librarian Jeanie Smith on the Lloyd’s Marine Collection (1741 – the present, the most amazing maritime stories) and drank in the displays featuring some of the library’s treasure: a Shakespeare First Folio (one of only 14 complete ones in existence); a John Stow First Edition; the first London Gazette, 1665 (named Oxford Gazette because Parliament had decamped there owing to the Plague); The Great Chronicle of London (1189-1512), a major source for John Stow; Bills of Mortality collection, also 1665; and so on.
Less valuable but more eye-catching and more fun, is London’s Armory from 1677. This is by a fellow called Richard Wallis, “citizen and Arms painter of London.”
To save your eyesight, the inscription reads:
Accuratly delineated in a Graphical display of all the Arms Crests Supporters Mantles & Motto’s of every distinct Company and Corporate Societie in the Honourable City of London as they truly bear them; faithfully Collected from their severall Patents which have been approved and confirmed by divers Kings at Arms in their Visitations. A Work never till now exactly perfected or truly Published by any, and will rectify many essential Mistakes and manifest Absurdities Committed in Painting & Carving.
Printed for the Author Rich: Wallis Citizen & arms painter of London and are to be sold by him at his Shop against ye Royall Exchange.
The idea here is that Wallis is sucking up to the Members of the companies represented on the right hand panel. When they cough up for their copy, I imagine that he inscribes their name in the blank panel on the left.
The most noteworthy thing, I think, are the two slaves at the foot of the page among much maritime paraphernalia and presided over by Neptune himself. Here is a man celebrating the hegemony of the City of London over lesser peoples of the world. But what of the arms and badges of which Wallis makes such proud boasts? I can’t match any of them with either livery companies, or the great trading companies or City wards. Militia companies?
I’ve sent a note to Guildhall Library and one or two academic historians who are our Members. But I’d also like to throw this open to the floor, so to speak. Please chip in if you know what they are. This is more a fun item than a serious academic exercise, I must point out.
Thanks to The Londonphile who took the pictures for me.