THE HOLY BIBLE. THE OLD TESTAMENT EMBELLISHED WITH ENGRAVINGS FROM PICTURES AND DESIGNS BY THE MOST EMINENT ENGLISH ARTISTS [with:] THE NEW TESTAMENT.
(London: T. Bensley for T. Macklin [final volume Bensley for T. Cadell & W. Davies], 1800). 484 x 390 mm. (19 x 15 1/4"). Seven volumes. First Printing of this Edition.
Once splendid contemporary black straight-grain morocco, gilt, covers framed by Greek key roll, palmette roll, and multiple gilt rules, double raised bands, spine compartments densely gilt with rows of alternating star and circlet tools, gilt titling, turn-ins with gilt chain roll, purple endpapers, all edges gilt (some inexpert but not obvious repairs to joints and backstrips). With more than 100 allegorical headpieces and tailpieces and some 70 SPLENDID LARGE-FOLIO SIZE COPPER PLATES after Fuseli, Reynolds, West, and others. Herbert 1442 and 1651. Extremities rather rubbed, boards a bit scuffed, but the decorative contemporaneous bindings solid and not without appeal. Plates somewhat foxed (mostly to margins), mild to moderate offsetting from plates, occasional mild offsetting in the text bed, but still a fresh, wide-margined copy.
The most prodigious form of scripture in English ever published, the Macklin Bible features very large and bold type, fine Whatman paper, and a series of engravings by some of the most celebrated artists of the period. Like the Boydell "Shakespeare Gallery" (also printed by Bensley), our Macklin Bible is a vast picture book with illustrations that are grand both in size and emotional impact. According to DNB, Macklin (1752/3-1800) announced his intention to produce a lavishly illustrated, luxuriously produced folio Bible in 1789, and he spent the next 11 years and £30,000 making his dream a reality. His efforts paid off: "the subscription list for 703 copies at £46 1s. apiece was headed by the king, the queen, and the prince of Wales." Sadly, Macklin died just five days after the last engraving was finished, and did not live to see his masterpiece become one of the most acclaimed English Bibles. As DNB observes, "The Macklin Bible endures as the most ambitious edition produced in Britain, often pirated but never rivalled." Copies of the Macklin Bible were often put into ornate bindings, as was the present set; despite the depradations of time, the workmanship of a superior London binder remains apparent. (CJW1405)