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1534 Coverdale's First English Psalter; Illuminated Manuscript on Vellum
Coverdale 1534 - COVERDALE’S FIRST ENGLISH PSALTER; ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, LONDON, 1534. ONLY SURVIVING COPY. An extraordinary example of early Tudor prose and one of the earliest known translations of the iconic Book of Psalms into the English language, bound with a selection of medieval prayers in manuscript, containing an early English translation of the Pater Noster (the Lord’s Prayer). Bound in a contemporary woven binding over wooden boards, this remarkable manuscript would originally have been fashioned with some sort of attachment from the top of the spine or covers allowing it to be hung by a chain or cord from a woman’s waist as a “girdle-book”. Its original owner would have been a woman either at or close to Henry VIII’s Court in a brief period when the possessors/creators of unauthorized texts in the vernacular were not considered to be “abusers of Scripture” in Henrican England. Such manuscripts are extremely rare. The present example is the only known manuscript survival of a version of the biblical text which itself is known in only two other contemporary printed copies. Both its size and also the fact that it is in the vernacular strongly suggests that it was created for a female audience. The existence of this relatively elaborate and expensive and completely unrecorded manuscript version certainly implies that Coverdale’s translation made a certain impact at the highest levels at the time. Four of the Psalms in Coverdale’s translation (86, 13, 18 [verses 1-6] & 54) also appear together with some of the same biblical Verses in another miniature manuscript on vellum known as “Lady Jane Grey’s Prayerbook” (British Library, MS Harley 2342, ff. 97v-105r & 109v-136v) which was given by Lady Jane Grey to Sir John Bridges, Lieutenant of the Tower, moments before her execution on 22 February 1554. TEXT: Psalms written in black ink a small neat gothica rotunda hand, 14 lines to a page, headlines in red, lines lightly ruled in red; 3-line initial “T” on the first leaf in liquid gold with white scrollwork on a blue background, similar 1- & 2-line initials on red and blue throughout; red and blue line-fillers heightened with liquid gold scrollwork throughout. The Prayers and Bible Verses, 17 lines to a page, without headlines; 3-line initial “O” on the first leaf in liquid gold with white scrollwork on a blue background and similar 1- & 2-line initials and line-fillers in red and blue by the same illuminator as the Psalms [text measures approximately 67 x 50 x 30 mm]. BINDING: The binding consists of early wooden boards covered with a pink woven cloth which in turn has been covered with a piece of fabric composed of silver wire and coloured threads wound around thin cords and stitched together in a pattern of zig-zags or chevron; the doublures are of later sky-blue fabric stitched-in at the edges; the spine is sewn on four bands now broken at the inside joints; there is a single brass catch and twisted clasp (the fabric covers are worn away at the edges exposing the wood boards beneath). PROVENANCE: There are a few early annotations. Most recently held by the Hon. Sir Arthur Jared Palmer Howard (1896-1971), a Member of Parliament for Westminster (1945-50); by descent in the family. FURTHER: The present manuscript forms part of a tradition of very small or even miniature printed and manuscript Continental European devotional books of the late Fifteenth and early Sixteenth centuries all of which are, by their very nature, extremely rare. It’s adoption here for an early English Protestant text is most exceptional. It stands as testament to the impact of the earliest Protestant reforms in Henrician England. [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
Last Found On: 2017-12-01           Check availability:      AbeBooks    


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