A Historical Look at How We Look at the World : A Grammar of Geography - Goldsmith (1824)

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GOLDSMITH, J. A Grammar of Geography for the Use of Schools and Young Persons. With Maps and Engravings. A New Edition corrected and Modernised. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, [n.d., 1824]

pp. 192 + 6 fold out maps + 9 tipped in unpaginated illustrations + frontispiece with rotating volvelle in full working order. Some gatherings are loose as the thread supporting the sewing loosened over the ages, so minor worming to the spine. Some maps have splits in the paper, but are intact. Overall GOOD condition for age.

A holistic approach to geography, this textbook touches on physical features and national borders, as well as qualitative (and highly subjective, often Euro-centric) descriptive geography (“Russia is the coldest empire in the world, and the Birman empire the hottest”). Science is blended with Christianity (“In Asia out first parents were created: it became the nursery of the world after the Deluge… and the scene in which the Messiah appeared to reform and save the human race”).

The highlight of the book is the frontispiece, featuring a rotating volvelle used to determine the time in different time zones and demonstrate the principal based on the position of earth in relationship to the sun. Illustrations of peoples from various nations and their environment guide the student’s imagination as they study the foldout maps of far away countries.

One of the historic students using this book for geography lessons has made an addition to the list of important cities in Yorkshire. In that spindly Victorian script, the student has written “Sinnington” on page. 37. This note provides an evocative picture of a schoolchild, proud of their Yorkshire village  home, looking out over the southern border of the moors.