An Inquiry into the means which have been taken to preserve the British Navy

London: Winchester and Varnham. 1821.

First edition. Large quarto. 268x210mm. pp. [iii]-xv [1], viii, 164. Lacking half title. Blind stamp of the Royal United Services Institute Library at head of title page. Half calf, marbled paper covered boards, rebacked and corners repaired. Red morocco label to spine, lettered in gilt. Upper cover a little scuffed and edges rubbed. Front pastedown has presentation bookplate of RUSI with disposal stamp. Slightly foxed but overall a very good copy of an important book which resulted in the election of Knowles to be a Fellow of the Royal Society. Knowles's work is a detailed study of the use and preservation of timber in ships. As he says in the preface, "the state and condition of the navy is a subject that cannot be too deeply studied, or too carefully attended to in this country; for whatever may be our political situation or connexion with the several Powers on the Continent of Europe, England should always recollect, that shops are her surest defence, for 'her rampart is the sea'". Knowles's day job was a surveyor in the Navy Office and it must have paid well as he was also a discerning collector of art owning works by Titian, Rembrandt, van Dyck and Gainsborough as well as many paintings by his friend Henry Fuseli about whom Knowles wrote a three volume memoir.

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