THE PRAYER BOOK OF KING EDWARD VII.

(London and Campden: Essex House Press, 1903). 375 x 183 mm. (14 3/4 x 11 1/8"). 6 p.l., 387 pp. No. 83 OF 390 COPIES on paper (and 10 on vellum, the first of these reserved for the King).

Bound in thick wooden boards backed with calf by the Guild of Handicraft and by Eyre & Spottiswode under the direction of Miss A. Power, upper board with iron catch-plates, raised bands, gilt titling, edges untrimmed (lacking straps and catches, which were apparently never attached). With about 150 woodcuts designed by C. R. Ashbee and engraved by W. Hooper and Miss Clemence Housman, among them a frontispiece depicting King Edward VII surrounded by his six predecessors of that name, title page framed by images of London, eight contents pages with large headpieces portraying a procession of persons important to the history of the Church of England, red and black decorative borders for the tables of propers and moveable feasts, a double-page illustration of St. Augustine of Canterbury meeting the seven British Bishops, and numerous historiated initials. Printed in in red and black, in Endeavour and Prayer Book types. Ransom, p. 267; Tomkinson, p. 74. Front joint cracked, but board securely attached with bands, rear joint with three-inch crack at head (no looseness), occasional mild thumbing, but a lovely copy internally, clean, fresh, and bright.

This is the magnum opus of the Essex House Press, described by Colin Franklin as "a thoroughly arts and crafts production." The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England is reissued with each new monarch, changing prayers for the royal family to reflect the succession. This splendid lectern-sized prayer book was published to celebrate the coronation of Queen Victoria's son Edward VII in 1902. The very pleasing illustrations were designed by the founder of the press, Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942). An ardent socialist who established the Guild and School of Handicraft in impoverished East London in 1888, Ashbee had worked as a jewelry designer before setting up the Essex House Press with the staff and presses of the recently closed Kelmscott Press. His illustrations show the Art Nouveau influence of his career in jewelry. The decorations here are so rich with symbolism that Ashbee was moved by popular demand to print a pamphlet explaining them. Franklin points out that Ashbee's books do not reflect a dedicated study of incunabula: "Ashbee was not being medieval or doing homage." Instead, the Essex House types are a mixture of "Ashbee's art nouveau and Kelmscott's Caslon," and are "true to [Ashbee's] sense of form." Anastasia “Annie” Power apprenticed with Douglas Cockerell and operated a small bindery with her friend Sylvia Stebbings before joining the Guild of Handicraft in 1901 to operate the bindery. She was assisted in this endeavor by Edgar Green and by Nellie Binning and Lottie Eatley, whose husbands worked at the Essex House Press. Tidcombe notes that the bindings on larger Essex House books, like the present volume, were completed in the bindery of publishers Eyre and Spottiswode.
(CCS1932)

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THE PRAYER BOOK OF KING EDWARD VII. ESSEX HOUSE PRESS, BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER.
THE PRAYER BOOK OF KING EDWARD VII.
THE PRAYER BOOK OF KING EDWARD VII.
THE PRAYER BOOK OF KING EDWARD VII.

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