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The rare 1658 first of William Percey’s The Compleat Swimmer… was in a handsome 19th century Bedford binding of green calf gilt.

Bearing the gilt Christie-Miller arms to the cover, this was the ex-Britwell Court library copy of Percey’s book which, Forum noted, had sold for £8 at Sotheby’s in 1925 and then seems to have remained in a series of French collections. In fact, it was last seen at Christie’s in 2004, when it sold for £4200.

Percey’s book is preceded in England only by Sir Everard Digby’s short tract on the subject, first published in Latin in 1589 and in English translation six years later.

As with the Percey book, only one copy of Digby’s book, the Latin version, currently features in American Book Prices Current records – one sold for $4750 by Sotheby’s New York in 1989 – though I seem to recall writing about another since that time.

A readily accessible and interesting account of Digby’s work on swimming can be found, courtesy of an article by Professor Nicholas Orme in the BBC History Magazine, at historyextra.com/tudor-swimming-guide.