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The Collation

Armorial bindings

The reveal to this month’s crocodile mystery isn’t much of a reveal; both John Overholt and Philip Allfrey posted the answer in last week’s comments. It’s the stamp that George Granville Leveson-Gower, the 1st Duke of Sutherland (1758-1833) used in his armorial bindings. 

  1. Since in British usage, only the monarch holds a crown, all the other crown-like things that the nobility use are called coronets.
  2. As a small aside, I do with that the site identified which copy their photographs are of. I understand that all the stamps listed under each illustrated device are made from the same physical object, but the bindings are different physical objects, and it could be helpful to know which one is imaged.


Looks like a book that was at one time in the royal collections (the royal arms appear underneath the other stamp), which subsequently was owned by one of the earls of Clarendon (from the motto, “Fidei coticula crux,” and details of the shield) who was also a Knight of the Garter (since his arms are encircled by the Garter).

Michael — July 9, 2012

Both the fourth (George William Frederick Villiers, 1800-1870) and sixth (George Herbert Hyde Villiers, 1877-1955) earls of the second creation were Knights of the Garter. My money would be on the fourth earl. The royal arms are from some time between 1603 (the Union of the Crowns) and 1707 (the Act of Union), since both the harp for Ireland in the lower left quadrant, and the rampant lion within the tressure for Scotland in the upper right quadrant are present, and the English lions are quartered with the fleurs de lis of France in the other two.

Michael — July 9, 2012

You’ve got the gist of it–there’s one stamp on top of a royal stamp. And the motto of the top stamp is indeed “Fidei coticula crux.” But I have a different identification of that top stamp, based both on my earlier research and on my searching through the British Armorial Bindings site, and ended up with two seventeenth-century stamps for both the original and the subsequent ones.

I’ll let this sit a bit longer, I think, before revealing.

Sarah Werner — July 12, 2012

Sadly for me I already had a go at identifying the ‘bonus crocodile’ some months ago, and left a comment on your blog then 🙂

P.S. Thanks for the kind words above about my methods and reasoning

Philip Allfrey — July 17, 2012

Hey, thanks for that nice explanation as well!

Sarah Werner — August 1, 2012

So this is a two-fer stamp: the first (or bottom) one is the stamp of James I, the second (or top) one is that of George Villiers, the 1st Duke of Buckingham. James’s is pretty easy to see: it’s the one with the big crown and the harp on the lower left of the shield. Buckingham’s is a bit trickier, since a later owner has tried to rub out some of the gold tooling to prioritize James’s, but you can make out the horse and stag supporters and the motto “Fidei coticula crux.” A clearer image of the stamp on its own is in the British Armorial Bindings site and that helps show the details that are obscured here.

I came across this book–a 1624 edition of John Smith’s A generall history of Virginia–because a student was working on it. At the time, I wasn’t sure of my identification of the arms, so I was gratified by the answers I got when I blogged about it, and for the confirmation in private correspondence with Philip Oldfield. You can read that blog post, if you’re curious, and see some more pictures of the binding there.

Sarah Werner — August 1, 2012