A VERY FINE EMBOIDERED DOS A DOS BINDING.
London, by Robert Barker: and by the assignes of John Bill, 1633.[with]
BIBLE. The psalter. With the addition of morning and evening prayer.
London f. the Soc. of Statrs., 1636. (with)
BIBLE. The whole booke of Psalmes: collected into English meeter by Tho. Sternhold, Jo. Hopkins, W. Whittingham, with apt notes to sing them withall.
London, imprinted for the Company of Stationers, 1636.
24mo. 1) 264 unnumbered leaves. A-Y¹². 2) 96 unnumbered leaves A-H¹² 3) pp. 330, [vi]. A-O¹². Title page of the New Testament within fine woodcut border, titles of Psalms within typographical borders, typographical ornaments, small woodcut initials, “sum e libris Samuelis Cater 4th Sept. 1658,” on fly, “Mrs quin Forest farm, gift of her godmother Lady Knollys who was wife later and first cousin to Mrs Squires” on paste down in C18th hand, “for Josephin Elizabeth Randolph the gift of her grand mama, Ann Cater” then to other Randolphs up to 1913 on verso of fly. Light age yellowing, very rare marginal spot or mark. Fine copies, crisp and clean in very fine, remarkably well preserved, contemporary embroidered white silk, silver and coloured thread and silver stump work dos a dos binding, semé of sequins, a large central bird within oval on covers, small red and blue flowers above and below,, alternate red and blue flowers embroidered on spines, within four sewn compartments, wide pink, red, green and yellow silk wrap around tie, a.e.g., edges a bit worn, a few sequins lost, colours very slightly faded, a little dusty in places. In folding blue morocco backed cloth box.
A very fine embroidered silk dos a dos binding, uniting three very rare editions; two recorded in one other copy only. The binding is a most beautiful contemporary English embroidered silk binding, bound dos a dos, in a quite remarkable state of preservation, complete with its wide decorative silk band, itself an extraordinary survival. Dos-à-dos bindings are formed so that the two books share a common lower board with their fore-edges facing in opposite directions. Their upper boards then form the outer covers. Thus whichever way the books are picked up they open at one or other title-page. The embroidery was made on a background of white silk with a charming design of a large bird resting on the branch of a bush within a central oval, the body of the bird sewn in sliver stump work, the bush sewn with blue flowers made with extraordinary skill; they are sewn in very fine silver and coloured thread, so that they overlap in ingenious fashion. It is technically and artistically work of the highest quality. The blue and red flowers above and below the central oval are sewn in the same three dimensional fashion, surrounded by fine silver thread-work and stump work leaves and a semée of sequins. The spines, also in a remarkable state of preservation, of finely worked flowers, are sewn in compartments in imitation of conventional binding. The whole glitters slightly with a semé of sequins. The quality of the embroidered work on the binding is hugely impressive, the work of a master, for a lady of rank. Its state of preservation, particularly of its wide silk band, is quasi miraculous for such a delicate and ephemeral object.
“In the sixteenth century embroidered work was very popular with the Tudor princesses, gold and silver thread and pearls being largely used, often with very decorative effect. The simplest of these covers are also the best—but great elaboration was often employed …..Under the Stuarts the lighter feather-stitch was preferred, and there seems to have been a regular trade in embroidered Bibles and Prayer-books of small size, sometimes with floral patterns, sometimes with portraits of the King, or Scriptural scenes.” English Embroidered Bookbindings, Cyril Davenport. Davenport also notes that ladies often made embroidered gloves to match the binding “in hands thus gloved these little bindings, always pretty, often really artistic, must have looked exactly right, while their vivid colours must have been admirably in harmony with the gay Cavalier dresses.” Embroidery or needlework had been employed on ms. service books in medieval times but almost no English examples survive. The majority of surviving examples, and the only ones appearing on the market, date from the first half of the C17 when they again became fashionable on small service books or works of piety, particularly among ladies of rank. Few have endured in anything like their original condition. Fragile at best, many have become dilapidated through usage and later neglect, some were defaced or completely destroyed by disapproving Puritans during the Civil War, whilst the richest were invariably looted for their gold and silver threads. Where as here, they have survived virtually intact, few artifacts are more redolent of the feminine culture and society of Stuart England. This copy is particularly richly and finely worked and has survived in museum condition, particularly with the retention of the multicoloured, long silk band. An exceptional and most lovely example, from the heyday of English embroidered bindings.
1) STC 2943. ESTC S124408. Darlow-Moule-Herbert 481. 2) STC 2667.2. ESTC S90598 (recording one copy at Newcastle Central Library). 3) STC 2667.2. ESTC S90797 (recording one copy at the Bodleian).