“IF EVERYTHING ELSE IN OUR LANGUAGE SHOULD PERISH, IT WOULD ALONE SUFFICE…”: 1786 OXFORD KING JAMES BIBLE, ILLUSTRATED WITH 266 ENGRAVINGS BY JOHN STURT AND SIX FOLDING MAPS, IN BEAUTIFUL CONTEMPORARY BINDING
BIBLE. The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments… Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press. by W. Jackson and A. Hamilton, 1786. Two volumes. Quarto, contemporary full midnight-blue straight-grained morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $7200.
Impressive 1786 Oxford quarto edition of the magisterial King James Bible, illustrated with six folding maps of “sacred geography” (including an elaborate plan of Jersusalem) and 266 fine engravings by John Sturt “from designs of the greatest masters,” in beautiful contemporary morocco.
"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. With Apocrypha. With additional engraved title page for Sturt's engravings and frontispiece portrait of George III in Volume I. Herbert 1313. Contemporary gift inscriptions.
Plates and text generally fine, with expert repair to two plates; some maps with short marginal closed tears at stubs. Striking contemporary morocco binding with subtle expert restoration at foot of front joint of Volume II. A beautifully bound and illustrated bible.