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"Old Moore's Almanack: Uncanny Predictor of Events to Come or a Right Load of Old Twaddle?"

An almanac is a book containing details of the celestial year, such as the phases of the moon, tide timetables and predictions of weather patterns based on these phenomena. Evidence of almanacs exists from Roman times to the present and there have been many and various publications over the years including Poor Richard's Almanac and The Farmer's Almanac which are both American, and Old Moore's Almanack, a traditionally British publication.

I first came across Old Moore's Almanack as a young child. I would follow my grandfather around while he went about his daily routines in the garden. His allotment was the envy of the neighbourhood and he grew vegetables fit for kings. The secret of his success, he said, was Old Moore's Almanac. He was a great believer in planting and harvesting his crops according to the phases of the moon, and the almanac allowed him to meticulously plan his gardening timetable. According to folklore planting is best done when the moon is waxing or full, because the young plants or seeds are better able to take up water; when the moon is waning water is drawn back down into the root systems. It gets even more complicated than this because the effect varies according to which zodiac sign the moon is in at any given time, as well as the time of year!

I have researched many sites looking for the date of origin of Old Moore's Almanac, but haven't managed to come up with a definitive one. One site quotes 1699 as being the first year of publication, although it was then known as Vox stellarum, and written by Francis Moore.

In another source 1764 is the given date, and another one indicates that it was around this time, but no exact date is specified. It seems that 'Old Moore' was Dr Francis Moore, King Charles II's court physician. He produced a broadsheet giving details of herbal remedies and the best times, astronomically, to take them. After his death in 1715 the title was brought by the London Liveried Stationers Company who later sold it on to the present publisher Foulshams. Henry Andrews (1744-1820) was a respected mathematician and publisher of the Royal Almanac during 1778, and he went on to work for Old Moore's Almanac compiling the tables of astrological data until his death.

During his lifetime sales of the almanac rose from 100,000 to 500,000. Today it sells by the million, and not only has astrological data but also jokes, poems, anniversaries, medical advice, politics and predictions.

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