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Author: [Book of Common Prayer]

Title: Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the Use of the Church of England Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, Pointed as they are to be Sung or Said in Churches.

Publication: London: Engraven and Printed by the Permission of Mr Baskett, Printer to the King’s most Excellent M 1717.

Description: 8vo., pp.xxii, 166, [ii]. Silverplate engraving throughout, with ornate borders, initials and decorations, and copious illustrations. Volvelle to p.v, single-page publisher’s list to rear. Faint toning, volvelle repaired at point of attachment but functional. Recent brown morocco, raised bands, gilt spine with title, a.e.g., very good. ‘The effect is harsh and dazzling in the extreme, and surely none but the most enthusiastic devotee ever yet prayed to heaven from the text of Sturt’s prayer-book.’ (Dibdin, Bibliographical Decameron p.116)

Generally considered the most spectacular of Sturt’s productions, the entire text is engraved rather than typeset, and is lavishly ornamented. Sturt (1658–1730) specialised in miniature work and was renowned for having engraved the Lord’s Prayer in the space of a silver halfpenny and the Creed within that of a penny. Here his frontispiece portrait of King George I showcases this skill, being composed of the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, a prayer for the royal family, and Psalm 21, all inscribed in lines of tiny characters across the King’s profile. The overall effect disquiets Dibdin to a degree this cataloguer cannot recall seeing before, as he describes the miniscule text 'running horizontally and directly across the physiognomy of his Majesty. These sacred parts of our Liturgy were perhaps never before so unpicturesquely introduced.' He recovers his composure though, and admires the book’s visual impact if not its practicality: ‘The effect is harsh and dazzling in the extreme, and surely none but the most enthusiastic devotee ever yet prayed to heaven from the text of Sturt’s prayer-book.’ (Dibdin, Bibliographical Decameron p.116) Five variants are listed by the ESTC, this copy being that with a cherub-filled border to page v, and no numeral in the head margin.

Bibliography: ESTC T141241

Reference Number: [51511]

Price: £750

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