A REGAL BINDING
Vindiciæ Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ; siue De legitimo eiusdem ministerio, id est, de episcoporum successione, consecratione, electione, & confimatione: item, de presbyterorum, & diaconorum ordinationeLondon, Impressum per Felicem Kyngstonum, 1625
FIRST EDITION thus. Folio. pp. [xxviii], 229, 240-342, 341-671, 670-680, [vi]. Roman and Italic letter. Woodcut printer’s device on t-p large woodcut initials, head and tail-pieces “Ex dono S. Charnock” in a slightly later hand on pastedown, “ex legat amici desideratisimi J.B.P.” on fly in early C19th hand, “Hawley sale, (Leybourne Grange 1905) in pencil beneath, book plate of George Dunn, Woolley Hall, on pastedown that of Maurice Burrus 1937, the Alsatian tobacco magnate, politician and philatelist, above. Light age yellowing, some minor soiling dust soiling on t-p and first few leaves, the occasional mark or spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean, with good margins in very fine contemporary London calf, covers bordered with a double gilt rule with outer dentelle border, corners gilt with large scrolled panel stamps with floral motifs and crible grounds, gilt central arabesque filled with fine scrolled gilt tools, gilt fleurons at sides, above and below, semée of small flower tools gilt, spine with gilt ruled raised bands richly gilt in compartments, very neatly rebacked and remounted, all edges gilt and gauffered, stubbs from an early ms leaf.
An exceptional copy of this most important work, very finely bound in a contemporary London binding, no doubt for a Royal or princely patron. The large, very fine panel stamped corners on the binding are identical to those used on a Royal binding made for James I, illustrated on p 58 of Cyril Davenport’s ‘Royal English bookbindings’; “doubtless one of the finest bindings done for James I”. This Royal binding was made in 1605. Used 20 years later on this immensely rich binding the corner pieces give it a slightly archaic style. was no doubt made by the same binder, most probably for a Royal and very rich client.
“Mason’s claim to remembrance rests on his vigorous defence of the authority of the church of England, which procured for him the title of ‘Vindex Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ.’ In 1613, with the encouragement of Abbot, archbishop of Canterbury, he published his book, ‘Of the Consecration of the Bishops in the Church of England,’ in which he introduced extracts from the records preserved at Lambeth, with a view to proving the validity of the consecration of the protestant bishops, and especially that of Matthew Parker [q. v.] He was the first to refute the widely spread and generally credited ‘Nag’s Head’ story. The book, which exhibits much learning and calm judgment, is written in the form of dialogue between Philodox, a seminary priest, and Orthodox, a minister of the church of England. In 1616 Anthony Champney [q.v.] published at Douay an answer to Mason, entitled ‘A Treatise of the Vocation of Bishops and other Ecclesiastical Ministers,’ which he dedicated to Abbot. He republished it in Latin in 1618. Champney was Mason’s strongest antagonist; but other Roman catholic writers put forth works against him, principally Thomas Fitzherbert [q. v.], Henry Fitzsimon [q.v.], and Matthew Kellison [q.v.] These attacks induced Mason not only to reissue his book in 1618, but to prepare an enlarged version of it in Latin, with answers to his critics. The manuscript was completed in 1620; it was called ‘De Ministerio Anglicano,’ but his health failing him, the publication was not proceeded with in his lifetime.” DNB.
George Dunn (1865-1912), of Woolley Hall near Maidenhead, Berkshire, was an English bibliophile and keen student of palaeography and early printing. Throughout his life he built up an impressive library at Woolley Hall, collecting early English law books, medieval manuscripts (chiefly from the Phillipps and Ashburnham sales), early printed books (including volumes from unusual towns and presses) and lastly, early stamped bindings, which he was one of the first British collectors to notice and preserve. After his death in 1912 his library was broken up and sold off at Sotheby’s between 1913 and 1917, realising over £30,000. A beautiful and important binding.