The Holy Bible Containing the Old Testament and the New: Newly translated out of the originall Tongues,

Cambridge, Printed by Tho. Buck & Roger Daniel, Printers to the University of Cambridge, [1638],


Folio. pp. [xii], 642, 151, [i]; [ii], 202. [pi¹, A-3G⁶, 3H-3I⁴, 3K-3X⁶, 3Y⁴; A-R⁶]. Apocrypha (caption title) begins new pagination; register is continuous. The New Testament has separate pagination, register, and title page dated 1638. Roman letter, some Italic, double column, entirely ruled in red. Beautiful engraved title, signed: Will: Marshall. sculp., containing small central device ‘Alma Mater Cantabrigia’, letterpress title for the New Testament with printer’s oval woodcut device within typographical border, floriated woodcut initials, bookplate of Richard Adams, and small book label of A. Eyre – Grove, on pastedown. Light age yellowing, lower outer blank corner of leaves X4, 3E2 & 3F1 very expertly repaired (probably original to binding) and with red-ruled borders redrawn, closed tear at foot of final leaf of Apocrypha and New Testament title. A fine copy in a splendid Restoration crimson morocco binding, for Charles II by the Samuel Mearne bindery, boards gilt ruled to a panel design, central panel with a fine gilt scrolled floral border, gilt crowned cypher of Charles II between palm leaves to outer corners, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, expertly rebacked, with original spine laid down, very richly and finely gilt in compartments with fine scrolled and floral tool, gilt crowned cypher of Charles between palm leaves at centres, inner dentelles richly gilt, combed marbled endpapers, a.e.r. lacking ties, covers a little scuffed.

A beautiful Cambridge bible in a stunning crimson morocco binding by Samuel Mearne bound for Charles II most probably for the Chapel Royal either at Whitehall, Windsor or St. James’ Palace. Magdalen College library has a ‘Book of Common prayer’ also bound by Samuel Mearne for the Chapels Royal with Charles II’s cypher very similar to this one; it is also ruled in an identical fashion. “Samuel Mearne (1624–1683)  the best known binder of this period .. described by David Pearson as ‘long celebrated as the greatest name in English Restoration bookbinding’.  As well as .. being the bookbinder to the King, his son Charles was also granted the posts of bookbinder, bookseller and stationer to the monarch.  The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 is seen as the beginning of a ‘golden age’ in English bookbinding, in which Mearne was a figurehead.  He is known as the chief exponent of the ‘Cottage Style’ or ‘Cottage Roof’ design, described by John Carter as ‘A style of decoration in which the top and bottom of the rectangular panel, which itself will be filled with smaller ornaments in a variety of rich designs, slope away from a broken centre, thus producing a sort of gabled effect’. The two Cs back to back between palm leaves, Charles II’s cypher, is a good indication that this book has been bound by Mearne: the tools to create these designs in the leather were used exclusively by him.  The book is highly likely to have been used in worship at Charles II’s chapel at Whitehall.  The chapel was refurnished regularly, and the prayer books would be replaced, leaving the old ones to be taken away by regular chapel-goers who had been using them.  The binding of the chapel prayer books formed a large proportion of Mearne’s workload, in addition to binding other books destined for the Royal Library.” Catherine Sutherland, Pepys Library and Special Collections, Magdalene College libraries. A similar but less decorative example of a Mearne royal binding is illustrated in H.M. Nixon, English Restoration Bookbinding, No. 6. The Bibles and prayer books in the royal chapels were usually renewed every three to five years, when they became the prerequisites of those who had served the King; Col. John Eyres M.P. was one of Charles II’s privy counsellors. See also BL bookbinding for several examples of similar Mearne’s bindings.

Later owned by the English novelist Richard Adams, famous as author of ‘Watership Down’ amongst many other works.

ESTC S123371. STC 2331. Herbert 520. Darlow & Moule 403.


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