and their decoration provide obvious clues to provenance, we have learned
to be cautious in using this evidence. "The fact that a particular
volume has stamped on its covers the arms of an historical figure does
not necessarily mean that the book ever belonged to or was in the library
of such a person. This is especially true of books bearing arms of French
and English monarchs
Persons desiring to present a copy of any book
to their sovereign would normally, as a matter of course, have the monarch's
coat of arms stamped on the binding. But whether the book was ever given,
or if given received, or if received kept, is entirely another matter
and not determinable from the stamping on the binding."
Robert Nikirk, "Looking into provenance" in A
Miscellany for Bibliophiles, ed. H. George Fletcher (New York: Grastorf
& Lang, Ltd., 1979), 19-20.
Sir Robert Dudley,
Earl of Leicester (1532?-1588)
Engraving. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. 1820.From a drawing
by William Hilton (d. 1822)
This 19th-century copper engraving of Robert Dudley is from a drawing
by William Hilton, RA (1786-1839), whose source was a portrait attributed
to Sir William Segar (fl. 1580-1585). The engraver was Robert Cooper
(fl. 1820-1836), who also engraved portraits for Scott's novels.
Leicester is shown with the Order of the Garter collar and staff.
Urbanus Rhegius. The
sermon, which Christ made on the way to Emaus to those two sorrowful
disciples, set down in a dialogue by D. Vrbanus Regius
John Day, 1578.
This lovely brown calfskin binding was made for the Earl of Leicester
by the successor of Jean de Planche (perhaps Peter Borfoyne), about
1578. It shows Leicester's badge (a tethered bear with ragged staff)
and motto (et Loyal Droit) at the center of the cover, with gilt
and blind tooled decoration
Frontis Portrait in ART File L 526.1
no. 5 ©
William Cecil, Lord Burghley
William Cecil, Lord Burghley. Engraving from the original by Marcus Gheeraerts
the Younger (1561-1635) [Mark Gerard]
Lord Burghley is shown in his Garter robes, with the emblem of the order
on his collar, holding the white wand of office. The print shown is a
steel engraving by William Henry Mote (fl. 1830-1858), executed ca. 1850.
James VI, King of Scotland.
The essayes of a prentise, in the diuine art of poesie. Edinburgh,
Thomas Vautroullier, 1584.
William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520-1598), was one of the most respected,
trusted, and powerful members of Queen Elizabeth's privy council. He was
also a collector of books and manuscripts. This quarto volume, bound in
vellum and painted orange with black pigment blocking and tooling, has
"W. Lord Burghley" stamped prominently on both covers. It may
be one of a handful of presentation copies from the author, James, the
future King of England. H. Bradley Martin had a copy of the same title
in an identical binding, except the name lettered on the covers was "H.
Lord Hunsdon" instead of "W. Lord Burghley." The Folger
acquired this volume at Sotheby's in 1990.
Diodorus Siculus. Bibliothecae
historicae libri quindecim de quadraginta. Geneva, Henricvs Stephanvs,
A Greek work by Diodorus Siculus, Bibliothecae Historica, shows
one of Lord Burghley's bindings with his coat of arms and his motto, Cor
unum, via una (One heart, one way), stamped in gold on the cover.
Burghley's papers and manuscripts are still preserved at Hatfield House,
but his books were sold at auction in 1687.
Thomas Wotton (1521-1587)
Robert Estienne. Hebraea, Chaldaea, Graeca et Latina Nomina Virorum,
Mulierum...Quae in Bibliis Leguntur. Paris, Robert Estienne, 1537.
Thomas Wotton had his books bound with his name, Thome Wottoni, stamped
in gold at the top of the front cover, and et amicorum ("and
of his friends") at the bottom, announcing his willingness to share
his library with his friends. The Latin phrase Johannis Grolierii et
amicorum was tooled or painted on the books of the famous French collector,
Jean Grolier, and for this reason Wotton is sometimes called "the
King James I (1566-1625)
Caius Suetonius Tranquillus. De XII. Caesaribus Libri VIII. [Geneva?]
Stephanus Gamonetus, 1605.
King James was a great admirer of beautiful bindings. Those created for
him are usually decorated with heraldic thistles, fleurs-de-lis, and ornamental
corners. They always bear the royal arms in the center of the covers.
The center block of James's arms on this binding is very rare, perhaps
unique. While the binding is not signed, it is probably the work of John
Bateman and his son Abraham, who became Royal Bookbinders to James in
1604, and office they held for life.
Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount
of St. Albans 1561-1626)
Francis Bacon. Instauratio Magna. London, John Bill, 1620.
A wild boar, the crest of Sir Francis Bacon, appears on both covers of
this limp vellum binding. While books with Bacon's crest are not common,
five large paper copies of Instauratio Magna decorated with the
crest have survived, suggesting they may have been intended as gifts.
Limp vellum was popular in the first half of the 17th-century, and a number
of presentation copies in the Royal Library bound before the civil wars
have similar case bindings.
A Royal Binding?
King Henry VIII, King of England. A copy of the letters, wherin the
most redouted [and] mighty pri[n]ce, our souerayne lorde kyng Henry the
made answere vnto a certayne letter of Martyn Luther
London, Richard Pynson, [1527?].
When is a royal binding not an association copy?
This copy of Henry VIII's correspondence with Martin Luther shows Henry's
Royal Arms in the upper right panel, with a large Tudor rose beneath it.
Yet we have no evidence that Henry actually owned this book. While the
text is printed "cum priuilegio" by Richard Pynson, printer
to the King, the book was bound by John Reynes, a London binder who owned
five pairs of panels and this one, with Henry's arms, was the one he used