that is, the Holy Scriptures conteined in the Old and New Testament. … (with) The book of Psalmes, collected into English meeter, by Thomas Sternhold

[Amesterdam], [J. F. Stam], [a er 1633].


4to. 1) ff. [iv], 190; 127, [i]; 121, [xi] 2) pp. [x], 93 [i.e. 91], [xi]. Roman letter, some Italic, double column, entirely ruled in red. General and NT titles within heart-shaped woodcut borders with twenty-four small compartments, le , the tents of the twelve tribes; on the right the twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists at centre, additional printed general title with woodcut illustration, 3 woodcut maps and numerous illustrations in the text of the Old Testament, woodcut tailpieces and small floriated initials. “Humfrey Tomlinson his book at the Inns Temple Gate millenon 1649” on last blank of the OT, repeated on fly dated 1644, with genealogical notes of his family until 1677 on front fly, “Elisabeth Busby her Book, given her by her father” with many genealogical notes of the Busby family to 1723 on fly, “William Andrews his book 1794” underneath both of Tomlinson’s, with his engraved armorial bookplate on pastedown, Sir Arthur Helps’ bookplate on fly (“Auxilia Auxiliis”). Light age yellowing, marginal foxing or light soiling. A fine copy, crisp and clean in stunning contemporary English [probably London] black morocco over boards, covers double gilt ruled and dentelle ruled to a panel design, large fleurons gilt to outer corners, corners to central panel finely gilt, lace worked around a central rose fleuron to a fan design, identical circular fan design gilt at centre, spine double gilt ruled and dentelle ruled to compartments, hatched lozenge tool and fleurons gilt at centres, edges gilt ruled, inner dentelles, a.e.g. spine a little cracked, end papers sympathetically renewed.

A rare complete ‘Geneva’ Bible, with the Psalms, published clandestinely in Amsterdam for the English market with a false date and imprint, in a stunning contemporary gilt morocco ‘fan’ binding. The beautiful gilt tooled binding is very finely worked in the style, then fashionable, of french baroque “fan” bindings, however the binding is probably from London as evidenced by the the hatched lozenge tool on the spine. The use of high quality black morocco and a decoration of finely worked ‘fan’ designs on the covers is particularly striking. The exiled English community at Geneva, during the reign of Queen Mary, became a centre for Bible study and under the guidance of Whittingham, a new translation of the Bible was undertaken. The present edition was the work of William Whittingham, Anthony Gilby, Thomas Sampson, and perhaps others, revised by Laurence Tomson, with the Franciscus Junius translation of Revelation translated to English by Tomson. The Bible that was produced at Geneva used several devices to help the reader study, understand and interpret. The script was divided into numbered verses for the first time. An ‘argument’ was also used before each book and chapter to help explain the meaning. The marginal notes amount to 300,000 words or about a third of the complete length. The translators used these scholarly annotations to clarify ambiguous meanings and for cross-referencing. King James, to impose his version, discouraged the printing of the Geneva version from 1611. The authorities of the seventeenth century were also suspicious of these marginal annotations, believing that they encouraged sedition. Indeed, James claimed that some notes were “very partial, untrue, seditious, and savouring too much of dangerous and traitorous conceits.” His attitude is perhaps unsurprising when notes such as Exodus 1:19 claimed that a disobedient act against a king was lawful. Despite royal antipathy, the Geneva Bible remained popular, o en described as the ‘Bible of the people’. It was not generally used in the Church of England as the notes were sometimes too Protestant for the Elizabethan religious settlement; it was however used in the Scottish Kirk. In 1579 a Scottish edition of the Geneva version was the first Bible to be printed in Scotland. According to Darlow and Moule, between 1560 and 1644 at least 140 editions of the Geneva Bible or Testament appeared. It was the Bible of Shakespeare and as late as 1643, Cromwell’s New Model Army was carrying the Soldier’s Pocket Bible made up of extracts. This edition contains two false title pages and was certainly produced outside the monopoly of the Stationers Company. Despite the fact that unlicensed foreign texts infringed this monopoly, imported material had a sizeable share of the English and Scottish book market in the seventeenth century. Here the false imprint dates to the reign of Elizabeth I when Geneva Bibles were less controversial. The illegal transportation of books into the country was certainly monitored by the authorities. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633-45, admitted that he had suppressed the Geneva Bible during his time in office at his trial, stating that he had suppressed this version, not only because of the controversial marginal notes, but also because he was trying to protect the economic position of English printers. John Frederick Stam was an established printer at Amsterdam who particularly targeted the English book market becoming one of the leading printers of English texts in the Netherlands, mainly producing Bibles, generally printed with false title pages which credited the printing to Barker.

1) STC 2177, version with “seuen/ and twenty prouinces” in Esther I, 1. ESTC S117087. Darlow & Moule I 191. 2) STC 2499.4 ESTC S90671. See Emily Wood, Glasgow University Library Special Collections, 2006 for description of a Geneva Bible, Sp Coll Euing Dp-b4,.


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