Scotland? 17th c., after, 1625.
Folio: 30.6 x 20 cm. 107 lvs., mostly numbered in a contemporary hand: , 1-8, 10-50, 1-7, 1-34 (13 misbound), 36-42, , 43-48 (48 misbound)
Manuscript consisting of 107 full-page Scottish coats-of-arms, each hand-painted over an underlying generic engraved template. The bare-bones template has minimal detail (helm with mantling, outline of a blank shield, empty compartment with flourishes) and serves only as a uniform foundation over which elaborate, individualized crests are painted. The first three coats-of-arms are those of royalty, and are painted on leaves without the engraved template.
Bound in 18th century reverse calf in fine condition (corners lightly bumped, small chip to foot of spine, a few signs of wear to lower board. The painted lvs. have been interleaved twice, once with lvs. contemporary with the manuscript, and again at the time of rebinding in the 18th century. Both sets of blanks present. The volume is in overall very good condition. Two of the paintings have been smudged (no. 16 in the first sequence, and the unnumbered leaf in the 3rd sequence.) One leaf (no. 2 in 3rd sequence) is torn with loss. There are some early, minor paper repairs (some a bit crude), a few longer clean tears (no loss) and some smaller tears at the head and foot of scattered leaves. The colors are on the whole very fresh. Individual elements (unicorns, squirrels, mermaids, “wild men”, and in one instance, beavers and Native Americans) are painted with nuance and in minute detail.
Provenance: Bookplate of Thomas Hamilton (1721-1794), 7th Earl of Haddington (Hadinton). The Hadington arms, with the motto “Praesto et presto”(I undertake and I persevere) are painted on folio 35, first sequence. The title was created in 1627 and bestowed upon the Scottish lawyer and judge Thomas Hamilton, First Earl of Melrose (d. 1637).
The volume opens with the arms of Scotland, those of the King of Scotland and England, and those of the Prince of Wales.
The manuscript dates to after 1625, the year in which the poet and courtier William Alexander, was made 1st Earl of Stirling (ca. 1567-1640). Alexander was involved in the Scottish colonization of Nova Scotia and the Stirling arms prominently feature a beaver, a Native American, and a mermaid.
Condition notes: Old repairs to lvs. 15, 18, 20, 21, 51 in first sequence. Leaf 2 (3rd sequence) torn with loss. Tears to leaf 7 (3rd sequence) Leaves 16 and  smeared. Other minor marginal tears.