“IF EVERYTHING ELSE IN OUR LANGUAGE SHOULD PERISH, IT WOULD ALONE SUFFICE…”: 1727 OXFORD KING JAMES BIBLE, WITH CONTEMPORARY BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, ILLUSTRATED WITH 260 ENGRAVINGS BY JOHN STURT AND SIX FOLDING MAPS, IN STUNNING FULL CONTEMPORARY “COTTAGE ROOF” BINDING
BIBLE. The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments… Oxford: John Baskett, 1727. Two volumes. Quarto, contemporary full red-brown elaborately gilt-tooled morocco rebacked with original spines laid down, raised bands, black morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $9200.
Impressive 1727 Oxford quarto edition of the magisterial King James Bible, illustrated with six folding maps of “sacred geography” and 260 fine engravings by John Sturt “from designs of the greatest masters,” beautifully bound together with a 1726 Book of Common Prayer, concordances and metrical psalter in a stunning elaborate morocco binding gilt-tooled in a “cottage roof” design.
“If everything else in our language should perish, [the King James Bible] would alone suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power” (Macaulay). First published in 1611, the King James Bible is “the only literary masterpiece ever to be produced by a committee and was the work of nearly 50 translators… [who] lived at a period when the genius of the language was in full flower” (PMM 114). Bound with a 1726 Oxford edition of the Book of Common Prayer—“as a source of spiritual inspiration, it is for most Englishmen second only to the Bible” (PMM 75)—at the front of the second volume, preceded by an engraved frontispiece portrait of King George II. Sturt’s engravings, printed and sold by Richard Ware, were designed to be fitted and bound with various “house” or family Bibles such as this one. In this copy, his fine engravings depicting dramatic scenes and important people from Scripture appear two to a plate with a lovely engraved ornament depicting angels beneath; the 130 plates are appropriately bound throughout the biblical text. The six engraved folding maps of Sacred Geography (also published by Ware, 1725), each measuring approximately 15 by 18 inches when unfolded, are also bound in at relevant points. Handsomely bound in elaborately gilt-tooled full contemporary morocco using a “cottage roof” design of fleurons and foliate corner pieces within a wide, ornamental border. Separate New Testament title page dated 1726. Apocrypha bound following Revelation. Bound with a 1726 edition of Downame’s concordance and a 1723 edition of Sternhold and Hopkins’ popular metrical psalter. With additional engraved allegorical general title page; title page for Sturt’s engravings; and title page printed in red and black for Sacred Geography. Apart from the 1727 general title page, the Bible conforms to Herbert 979, a 1726 Baskett quarto, with 1726 New Testament title page, Apocrypha present and Revelation ending on leaf 4I2b (although Herbert’s copy lacked all, including title page, preceding F3). Griffiths 1726:3 (prayer book). Contemporary gift inscriptions (“Ann Bridges, a present from her Father the first visit she paid him after her Marriage”). Previous owner’s signatures, address labels to front pastedowns.
Scattered light foxing, occasional light embrowning. Closed tear along hinge of folding map “Situation of Paradice” (Genesis 3). Closed tear to plate following 4A1, Volume II, not affecting images. Minor paper restoration in Volume II to plates following 3S3, 3U2, 3X7, not affecting images. Binding bright and fine. A most beautiful Bible in magnificent binding and excellent condition.