"IF EVERYTHING ELSE IN OUR LANGUAGE SHOULD PERISH, IT WOULD ALONE SUFFICE…": 1786 OXFORD KING JAMES BIBLE, ILLUSTRATED WITH OVER 260 ENGRAVINGS BY JOHN STURT AND FIVE 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. Quarto, contemporary full dark red calf, raised bands, elaborately gilt boards and spine with blue and green morocco onlays, black morocco spine label, all edges gilt. $5500.
Impressive 1786 Oxford quarto edition of the magisterial King James Bible, illustrated with five folding maps of "sacred geography" (including an elaborate plan of Jersusalem) and over 260 fine engravings by John Sturt "from designs of the greatest masters," in beautiful contemporary binding.
"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). 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 four to a plate, and are appropriately bound throughout the biblical text. The five engraved folding maps of Sacred Geography (also published by Ware), each measuring approximately 15 by 18 inches when unfolded, are also bound in at relevant points. With Apocrypha. With additional engraved title page for Sturt's engravings. Herbert 1313. With contemporary family genealogy in ink on endpapers.
Interior generally fresh and clean, with occasional wax stains, only minor offsetting from plates to text; a few short closed tears to folding maps, one expertly repaired. Binding in lovely condition. A beautiful 18th-century Bible.