4to (216 x 147 mm). , 118 leaves. Roman, italic and greek types; printed shoulder notes. 8-line historiated woodcut initial opening the dedication, 4-line initial opening the text. Title a bit soiled and ink-speckled, some old crease marks to corners, dampstaining in lower portion of last 30 or so leaves, a few small stains including early inkstains in some lower margins.
Contemporary London binding of ca. 1570, by the “Macdurnan Gospels Binder,” of brown calf over pasteboard, both covers gold-blocked and -tooled to a center- and corner-piece design with large cornucopia corner tools (Foot K1 and K2), at center the gold-blocked arms of Queen Elizabeth I within the Garter and surmounted by a coronet, a semis of small gilt trefoils, smooth spine gilt with small tools and intersecting fillets, evidence of two fore-edge ties, edges gilt (the gilding largely faded; a few small gouges, old restorations to corners (obscuring the corner edges of five of the eight cornerpieces) upper board edges, joints and extremities of spine); modern folding case.
Provenance: Queen Elizabeth I, supra-libros, the binding possibly commissioned and presented to her by the dedicatee Peter Osborne; Richard Latewar (1560-1601), preacher and Neolatin poet, neat inscription on title consisting of two lines of Latin verse praising this posthumous work (Bernardus niveos moriens imitates olores / Edidit hos dulces in sua busta sonos), signed with his Latin name Richardus a Sero Bello, a correction (f. 98r) and five marginal notes apparently in the same hand (ff. v of the dedication, 27v, 31r, 48r, 65r, 83v); early Latin inscription at end in a different hand; John Wright, purchase inscription on title stating that he paid 12 pence for the book in 1613 (Johannes Wryght p. 12 d / 1613), a few marginalia probably in same hand, some marginal notation symbols and light underlines; with Bernard Quaritch, catalogue 166, January 1897, Examples of the Art of Bookbinding, no. 21, the text of the catalogue on a typed sheet mounted inside front cover.***
First Edition of a devotional treatise by a reformist Yorkshire preacher, bound for presentation to Queen Elizabeth.
This was John Bernard’s only published work. The manuscript was found in Bernard’s study after his death by his brother Thomas, who had it published, dedicating the volume to Peter Osborne, the lord treasurer's remembrancer of the exchequer. “According to Thomas Bernard, his brother wrote the Oratio pia early in Mary's reign, when the persecution of protestants was beginning. Supported by much classical and patristic learning, John Bernard pursues the question of ‘where the true tranquillitie of the minde may be founde’ [English translation of 1570, The Tranquillitie of the Minde, 35]. His standpoint is firmly evangelical. Proclaiming a scripture-based religion, he rejects clerical celibacy and the doctrine of purgatory, and asserts that if no morally worthy priest is available to comfort those troubled in conscience, the latter should go instead to ‘the lay man which is indued with the same giftes that are in a godly Minister’” (Oxford DNB). The work was printed by the noted Protestant printer William Sere, who had received letters patent for the printing of psalters, primers and prayer-books in 1554; he lost this privilege under Queen Mary and regained it upon the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558.
The “MacDurnan Gospels Binder,” a shop or binder active from the 1560s to the early 17th century (after about 1580 the shop’s material is associated with the binder John Bateman), derives its name from the 9th-century Gospels of Maelbright MacDurnan, Abbot of Armagh (d. 927), now in the Library of Lambeth Palace, which was bound in this London shop for Archbishop Matthew Parker, the bindery’s main patron. “Besides binding manuscripts for Parker and presentation copies of books in whose production he was concerned, this bindery bound presentation copies of books produced by most of the leading members of the London book trade between 1567 and 1577” (Nixon, Five Centuries). Nixon and Miriam Foot recorded nine bindings from the shop originally owned by Queen Elizabeth, not including this one, which appears neither in Nixon’s 1970 census of 34 books bound in the shop, nor in Foot’s 70-item addendum to his census. Others were owned by King James I, Henry Prince of Wales, Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, William Cecil Lord Burghley, and other luminaries.
This binding is decorated with a pair of the distinctive cornerpiece blocks that characterize the shop’s work; they are reproduced by Miriam Foot in The Henry Davis Gift, volume I, plate facing p. 40, as nos. K1 and K2. She reproduces two bindings decorated with these blocks, dated by her to ca. 1567 and 1570 (cf. vol. 1, no. 3 = vol. 2, no. 48, and vol. 2, 49). Another binding with the same cornerpiece blocks, though with modern overpainting, is held by the Folger Shakespeare Library and reproduced in their Bindings Image Collection (STC 17518). The present binding may have been commissioned for presentation to the Queen by Peter Osborne, Officer of the Exchequer, to whom the work is dedicated. The inscription by the poet and divine Richard Latewar, who died in 1601, appears to indicate that the volume passed out of Queen Elizabeth’s hands before that date.
STC 1924. Cf. Howard M. Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, 21; Nixon, “Elizabethan Gold-tooled Bindings,” Essays in honour of Victor Scholderer (Mainz 1970), census pp. 254-262; Miriam Foot, Henry Davis Gift I:35-49; Paul Needham, Twelve Centuries of Bookbindings, no. 87. Item #3182