BOUND FOR KING GEORGE III: 1770 OXFORD FOLIO EDITION OF THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, SUMPTUOUSLY BOUND IN FULL MOROCCO-GILT WITH THE COAT-OF-ARMS AND CIPHER OF THE KING
(GEORGE III) (BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER). The Book of Common Prayer, And Administration of the Sacraments. Oxford: T. Wright and W. Gill, 1770. Folio (12 by 18-1/2 inches), contemporary full green speckled morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine and covers with royal crest and cipher of King George III, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt, silk ties. Housed in a custom cloth clamshell box.
Oxford 1770 folio edition of the Book of Common Prayer—the magisterial treasury of ritual, prayer and Scripture that has indelibly shaped the piety and literature of the English-speaking world, “a source of spiritual inspiration… for most Englishmen second only to the Bible” (PMM). This copy bound for King George III, with his coat-of-arms as a gilt centerpiece on both covers and his royal cipher on the spine—a most distinguished and handsome copy.
King George III’s fifty-year reign, dating from 1760-1810, lasted longer than that of any previous British monarch, and he ruled during a particularly turbulent era for the British Empire. The American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars marked his reign. This book dates from the early years of his reign and the zenith of his popularity: Great Britain had won the Seven Years’ War, making the British Empire the dominant power in Europe and in her colonies circling the globe. Trouble was brewing in the American colonies, of course, but all-out war had yet to break out. Though there are no indications as to this particular volume’s history, similarly bound Books of Common Prayer with King George III’s crest and cipher published in the 1760s and 1770s have been known to have served in a Chapel Royal or a similarly important royal church or chapel. George III was deeply devout and spent hours in prayer, making this volume emblematic of his rule at that time. Born of Thomas Cranmer’s desire for liturgical texts upon which all of Europe’s Protestant, English-speaking churches could agree, the Book of Common Prayer, first issued in 1549, has considerably influenced ecclesiastical practice. Text ruled in red throughout. Griffiths 1770:6. Ink gift inscription on front flyleaf dated 1870.
One silk tie perished but present. Fine condition, beautifully bound, with distinguished royal provenance.