(Edinburgh: Printed by James Watson, One of His Majesty's Printers, 1719, 1716). 135 x 65 mm. (5 1/4 x 2 5/8"). Two volumes.
FINE CONTEMPORARY BLACK MOROCCO, ELABORATELY GILT, IN A SCOTTISH HERRINGBONE DESIGN, covers with central panel featuring a herringbone of turnip tools, with buds at either end and a daisy in the center, this enclosed by a frame featuring oblique fleuron cornerpieces and half-circles along the outside of the frame, raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with either a saltire dividing the panel into four triangles containing a pomegranate or palmette tool, or with a "mirrored" floral design, gilt-rolled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Front flyleaves with small holes from removal of earlier owner inscription and with (19th century?) ink signature; one volume with pencilled notes on Scripture to flyleaves. Darlowe & Moule 743. For the binding: Sommerlad, "Scottish 'Wheel' and 'Herring-bone' Bindings in the Bodleian Library" 16-18; Maggs Catalogue 1212, 122. ◆Boards tending to splay, tiny chip to foot of one joint, slight general wear to the leather, gilt a bit less bright on one of the volumes, but the bindings solid and most attractive; head and fore edges trimmed a little close, occasionally grazing headlines, a couple of quires a little proud, isolated trivial paper defects (never causing loss of text) or small stains, final quire of volume II with a bit of soiling and small chips to margins, but an excellent, clean copy internally.
This charming little Bible provides a wonderful example of the so-called "herringbone" binding, one of the two distinctive national styles (the other being the "wheel" binding) that distinguished the flowering of Scottish bookbinding in the 18th century. Our volume uses the popular turnip tool as the central design element in a way similar to Sommerlad items #16-18, and items #17 and #18 in Sommerlad also feature the half-circles surrounding the central frame, a design that appears as well in Maggs Catalogue 1212, #122. Sommerlad notes that "both styles of binding occur mainly on Bibles or on presentation copies of academic dissertations." Our binding is especially similar to Sommerlad #18, on a Bible and Psalms also printed by Watson in 1716, notably in the bud-like tool at either end of the herringbone and in the use of a pentagram tool, a design feature that Sommerlad observes "occurs only intermittently, and its appearance is possibly to be attributed to its deliberate use as a mystical symbol." The examples of bindings cited above are all, like ours, on Bibles printed in Edinburgh, but our bindings differ from the majority of known 18th century Scottish bindings in that they have marbled, rather than gilded Dutch, endpapers. Our set is especially desirable for the brightness of its gilt, which on many specimens is unfortunately rubbed from use. (ST15991)