“ONE OF THE GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE 16TH CENTURY”: “THE BISHOPS’ BIBLE,” 1575 FIRST SMALL FOLIO EDITION
(BIBLE). The holy Byble, conteyning the olde Testament and the newe. London: William Norton, 1575. Small folio (8 by 11-1/2 inches), contemporary full paneled reverse calf rebacked, raised bands, red morocco spine label, contemporary brass catches and renewed brass clasps. $19,000.
Sixth edition (first small folio edition) of the “Bishops’ Bible”—the Anglican translation commissioned to check the Geneva Bible’s influence and “considered one of the great achievements of the 16th century” (J. Paul Getty Museum, A Thousand Years of the Bible, 70)—with much woodcut ornamentation, complete in contemporary reverse paneled calf boards.
Queen Elizabeth I "encouraged a renewed interest in the English Bible, but the Great Bible [prepared by Miles Coverdale and published in 1540] was still the version authorized for church use. It was clear that the Geneva Bible [published 1560 by Calvinist exiles in Switzerland] was, in many ways, a superior translation; some of its notes, however, were offensive to the Crown. Consequently, it seemed advisable to undertake a revision of the Great Bible. Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, headed the revision committee, which included many bishops and well-known biblical scholars. Few changes were made in the Old Testament. There is evidence of genuine scholarly learning in the changes to the New Testament, where Parker himself worked… The new authorized version was called the 'Bishops' Bible because of the dominant role they played" (Bible 100 Landmarks 63). First published 1568. The 1602 edition would serve as the basis of the King James Bible (1611). This edition ornamented with elaborate woodcut title page and part titles (each with a mermaid admiring herself in a hand mirror and the motto "God saue the Queene;" the New Testament part title includes small cartouches for each Evangelist); decorative initials; maps before Acts and Romans; small portraits before Romans, James, 1 Peter, Jude and Revelation; and 17 small in-text illustrations in Revelation. Set mostly in Gothic type (Cranmer's prologue, headlines, chapter contents and marginal notes in Roman type), in double columns of 58-59 lines. Gathering 3* printed in red and black, with small woodcut illustrations for each month in the Calendar. Darlow & Moule 103. Herbert 139. STC 2110. Dore, 256-58. Bookplate, bookseller ticket. Old owner signature to leaf [R8v] of New Testament. Occasional old ink marginalia; extensive old manuscript notations to verso of [N6] and both sides of [2T8] and [4N8].
A bit of light dampstaining toward gutter of a few gatherings. Occasional marginal closed and open tears, some with expert restoration; remnant of [R10], preserving colophon and brazen serpent device, mounted on later paper. Expert restoration to boards. A lovely complete copy in original reverse calf boards.