[BIBLE]. MONTANUS, Arias Novum Testamentum graece, cum vulgata interpretatione latina graeci contextus lineis inserta.

[Geneva], Apud Petrum de La Roviere, 1619


8vo. pp (xvi) 1082. (vi). [par]8, A 3Y8. (last two blank). Greek and Roman letter, some Italic. Small woodcut printer’s device on title, woodcut initials and headpieces, typographical ornaments, manuscript ex-dono “Donum Anne Radcliffe fac: Theol: Bacc: Oct 4 1623” on fly, later autograph ‘Barbet’ with shelf mark below, book-labels of ‘E. Almack’ and ‘M.A. Colson’, manuscript register of the births of the Saunders family 1629-1643 on following flyleaves. Light age yellowing, some minor light, mostly marginal spotting, the occasional mark or spot, quires Bb-Cc with early restoration in blank outer margins, small hole at blank gutter of title restored on verso. A good copy in sumptuous contemporary English tan morocco, covers bordered with a single gilt rule with gilt dentelle roll, double hatched circles gilt to corners and centre around which a highly intricate all over design of gilt small, and pointillé tools, including gilt scrolled tools, leafy sprays, gilt hatched leaves, flat spine, gilt ruled into four compartments, worked with gilt scrolled tools around the same double hatched circles gilt as the covers, edges gilt ruled with dentelle roll, a.e.g, small split in lower outer joint restored, small early restoration to joints, a little rubbed at extremities. In folding box.

A most interesting and superbly bound copy of Arias Montanus’ Greek New Testament with the interlinear Latin translation, in a richly worked contemporary English, most probably London, binding, with fascinating early English provenance; the gift of Ann Radcliffe one of the the first patrons of Harvard College. The binding is a good example of the best bindings of the period, extremely finely and delicately worked for its size, densely tooled in gilt to an intricate all over design. The shape of the Bible with its large flat spine allowed the binder to create four panels on the spine mirroring those of the covers. The boards of the binding were made using waste from a 16mo. edition of the James I bible, printed in a minuscule Roman letter, unfortunately we have not been able to identify which printing.

The books first provenance is fascinating and important; Anne Radcliffe who first gifted this work, (to a theology student, probably Thomas Saunders), and who most probably had it so richly bound, is Ann Radcliffe Mowlson, wife of Thomas Mowlson, Lord Mayor of London, one of the first benefactors of Harvard college, and for whom Radcliffe College in Harvard is named. “Lady Mowlson’s bequest in 1643 funded Harvard’s first endowed scholarship. Lady Mowlson, née Ann Radcliffe, was born in 1576. She married alderman Thomas Mowlson, who later served as Lord Mayor of London. Upon her husband’s death in 1638, Lady Mowlson inherited half of his considerable estate. In 1641, the Massachusetts General Court authorized three local ministers, Hugh Peter, Thomas Weld, and William Hibbens, to travel to England to raise money for the colony and for the nascent College. During that mission, Weld met with Lady Mowlson, who, on May 9, 1643, bequeathed £100 to be used for the “maintenance of some poor scholler.” Lady Mowlson died in 1661. Radcliffe College was named in her honor in 1894.” Harvard University Archives. ‘Collections highlights’ on the Mowlson bequest. The endowment Radcliffe made in 1643 not only established the first scholarship at Harvard, it also marked Radcliffe as the first female donor to Harvard University, and in 1894, the Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women became Radcliffe College. The college merged with Harvard in 1999 and is now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. This ex-dono makes it clear that Ann Radcliffe had supported other “poor schollers” even before her donation to Harvard. “Ann was born in London ..child of Anthony and Elizabeth Radcliffe. The Radcliffe’s were a successful family.. On 15 December 1600 Ann married Thomas Mowlson a prominent merchant. Together the couple ran an inn in St. Christopher’s Parish, London. During Thomas’s life, the wealthy innkeeper was extremely generous in giving to educational charities within his community. Upon Mowlson’s death, Ann received half of her husbands estate as well as full authority over his will, which she used productively to make several smart and successful business deals.. In addition to making clever business decisions, Ann also became very involved with religious causes. As a Puritan Ann gave large donations to Puritan parishes and loaned money to Parliament to help protect Puritan interests. In 1644 Ann also advanced a large sum of money to to aide the Scottish army who were moving south to support parliament.” Alyson Alvarez. “A Biographical Encyclopedia of Early Modern Englishwomen: Exemplary Lives.” As an extremely rich gift binding it must have been the treasured possession of the Saunders family. It is probable that the family, whose records of birth are recorded on the front flyleaves, is that of Beechwood Park in Hertfordshire, later the Sebrights. Perhaps Ann Saunders, recorded as born in 1633, was named after the owners first benefactor?

The text of the New Testament, (the perfect gift for a Theology Scholar) interlined in Greek and Latin is that established by the Spanish priest and Orientalist, Arias Montanus (Benedictus) first printed by Plantin in Antwerp in 1569-72, under the patronage of Philip II who entrusted him with the editing of the Polyglot Bible. In the New Testament Montanus changed only a few words from the Vulgate version, where he found it to differ from the Greek. His revision was very frequently printed in various sizes. Arias was an upright, sincerely orthodox Romanist, but he was a declared enemy of the Jesuits, and they omitted no opportunity to attack his work. For his work on the Polyglot Bible Montanus was accused of Judaizing, on account of his insertion of certain Aramaic paraphrases tending to confirm the Jews in their claims. He made many voyages to Rome to justify himself, and in 1580 was honorably dismissed, and was acquitted of the charge through a favourable report on the matter by the inquisitor, P. Mariana (1580). He was also the translator of Benjamin of Tudela’s “Travels” into Latin, amongst many other works.

An exceptional gift binding with most interesting provenance.

Darlowe and Moule 4667. Bibles imprimées, 3855. Not in BM STC.

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