A tiny book arrived for inspection in the Rare Books section today. It’s the 1673 edition, not recorded in ESTC, of a book that, according to title page statements, ran to over 42 editions between 1623 and 1698. If there really were that many editions, most don’t survive at all. The recorded editions survive in only a few copies: some are unique examples. This is the typical, paradoxical fate of the cheapest and most popular books — that they were read almost out of existence.
“Crumms of comfort”, by Michael Sparke, offered readers moral guidance reinforced with fold-out plates depicting examples of God’s salvation of Englishmen, from the Spanish Armada in 1588 and from plague in 1625. These historical centrefolds could have been crumbs of comfort for people living through a turbulent century.