London: by Eliz. Holt, for Thomas Basset, 1690. First edition. Elizabeth Holt imprint, the first issue according to Yolton 61A; PMM 164; Pforzheimer 599. (Current scholarship is mixed as to priority between this and the Basset imprint). Folio (pages: 313 x 190 mm), collates complete: A4; (a)2; B-Ccc4; 198 leaves (misnumbered at 76, 77, 287, 296 and 303). With the two emendations (in Locke's hand?) on leaves A(3) and A(4). (Yolton 61A.)
Bound in full contemporary calf, rebacked (and recornered) with the original spine laid down. Title page with a small previous owner's name removed and professionally repaired, but with some staining around the area. Second leaf with some offsetting in the same place. Two other leaves Ccc2 and Ccc3 with upper margins restored, no text affected (just touching top rule). Otherwise an excellent set internally. Page block tight, with well-margined, crisp leaves, generally unblemished and unmarked.
A monolith in the landscape of philosophical treatises, Locke was the first "to attempt to estimate critically the certainty and the adequacy of human knowledge when confronted with God and the universe," and concludes that man has a means of controlling his own destiny and is thus not the pure victim of chance (PMM 164). He advanced the concept of people born "tabula rasa," and filled through their lives by experiences. This concept formed the basis for the empiricist camp in modern philosophy, later expanded by Hume and Berkeley. "An Essay" was placed on the Catholic Index in 1700 for its controversial content, where it remains to this day (see Height, "Banned Books," p. 27-8).
From the collection of Michael Ernest Sadler, father of the famous collector and bibliographer Michael Sadleir. Grolier Club, "One Hundred Books famous in English Literature," 36. (Item #1752)