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1603 Quarto Illustrated Geneva Bible by the Squirrel Binder



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The Bible: That is, The holy scriptures conteined in the Old and New Testament, Translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in divers languages. With most profitable Annotations upon all hard places, and other things of great importance.


A 1603 quarto Geneva Bible with an elaborate gilt-tooled binding by the famous Squirrel Binder. Original silver centerpieces and heavy silver closing clasps. The text is intricately ruled in red throughout with a complete Book of Common Prayer, Bible text, and Psalter. Provenance of John Suckling, James Stopford, and Richard Bruce Stopford.


Printed title page of the Book of Common Prayer (1633) by Robert Barker and the Assigns of John Bill. The Prayer Book is complete and the whole is meticulously ruled in red. General title page (1603) with woodcut border comprising twenty-four small compartments showing the tents of the twelve tribes as well as the figures of the twelve apostles. Title is enclosed within a heart-shaped frame. Text is presented in two column Roman font, containing the entire set of Geneva woodcut illustrations and maps. The Bible text is again meticulously ruled in red throughout. Contains the Apocrypha as issued. The Old Testament concludes with “The end of the Apocrypha” in italics. Similar New Testament heart shaped title within woodcut border (1603). With fourteen contemporary copperplate engravings bound into the gospels; a few are one quarter size but most cover seventy five percent of the full page. These engravings are dated 1618 and 1619, contain some Latin text, and are bound in with their corresponding Bible passages. Some are by the Flemish engraver Theodoor Galle while others appear to be done by Nicolaes de Bruyn. Concludes with A briefe table and ends on colophon (1603.) Bound with The Booke of Psalmes (1619) which is red-ruled and complete, ending on colophon. First chapter floriated initials, colophons, and head- and tailpieces throughout.


[par]^4, A-Z^8, &^6, Aa-Zz^8, &&^8, **^4 (Old Testament); Aaa-Qqq^8, Rrr^4 (New Testament). Lacks H8 (Numbers 34) and L4 (Joshua 15).


Dark brown morocco, sometime rebacked. Elaborate and particularly attractive gilt tooled covers with all-over design by the Squirrel Binder. Features include squirrels, caterpillars, butterflies, and flowers. There are a number of initials on the front board ("G", "EO", "RG", "HV", MB", "LE") and the rear board ("G", "EO", "RG", "HV", "M", "B", "L", "E"), with the front board containing the additional date of "1620." This Bible appears to have been bound specifically for Georg [George] Humble (1603 fl - 1640), a wealthy London printer, map dealer, and Master of the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers. Two silver centerpieces and two functioning original and heavy silver clasps. The centerpieces feature a crane on the rear board and the family crest of the Suckling family on the front board. Plain endpapers. All edges gilt. Inner dentelles.


General title with ½” tear to fore-edge margin; small marginal stain to tail in places; LACKS H8, L4. Wide, untrimmed margins throughout. Red ruling is very detailed. Pages generally crisp and clean on thick paper. Some of the gilt to the boards slightly faded, corners lightly bumped.


Armorial bookplate of James Stopford, Earl of Courtown. The first four blank leaves and the final four contain family history of the Stopford family. James Stopford (1731-1810) was elected to the Irish House of Commons, and he later became a member of the British House of Commons. His fourth son, Richard Bruce Stopford, served as chaplain to Queen Victoria. The front silver centerpiece contains the family crest of the Suckling family. Sir John Suckling (1569-1627) served as secretary of state to James I and privy councilor to Charles I. His son (also named John) was a famous poet who invented the game of cribbage.


While the binder’s name is unknown, the distinctive squirrel found on this Bible links the work to the “Squirrel Binder” as named by H.M. Nixon in 1970 ("English Bookbindings 62: A London Binding by the Squirrel Binder, c. 1620", The Book Collector, Spring 1970). The binder was active from 1610-1635 and worked for English nobles and members of the royal court, including James I and Charles I. The binder produced marvelous bindings in the style of sixteenth-century French bindings “à la fanfare.” In addition to the sixteen bindings recorded by Nixon, Mirjam Foot records another 37 examples from the same shop, of which at least sixteen were made for the royal family ("Lord Herbert and the Squirrel Binder", The Henry Davis Gift, i, pp.51-58). We trace only two books from the Squirrel Binder sold at auction since 1970. The binding, provenance, and condition of this book unite to offer something truly unique to the serious collector. In our many years of selling antique Bibles, this has to be one of the most attractive Geneva Bibles we have ever handled.


Herbert 274; STC 2190.


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