BIBLE, in English. The Holy Bible containing the bookes of the Old & New Testament. Cambridge: John Hayes, 1674.
2° (459 x 316mm). Engraved architectural title by J. Draanentier. Title to the New Testament with woodcut Cambridge 'Alma Mater' device. Double column ruled in red throughout, woodcut initials. (Some waterstaining of bottom and outer margins, 3O3-3Y3 with indentation to page edge at bottom margin, short tears to E6, 3A2 and 4M6, small paper repair at bottom margin of 2F6, 4O3v slightly soiled.) ROYAL BINDING OF CONTEMPORARY GOLD-TOOLED RED TURKEY BY SAMUEL MEARNE, PROBABLY FOR THE KING'S OWN USE, the covers with a 'cottage-roof' design painted in black around a double rectangular panel, in the centre of the inner panel an oval containing a flower within a ring of dots and semi-circles, round the oval a lozenge of massed volutes with lobed black ribbon border, above and below the lozenge the cypher of Charles II surrounded by a mass of leafy sprays, angles of the panel with massed small tools divided from the sprays by 'drawer-handles' in black, the second panel with a chain of semi-circles along the border partly stained in black, the ground between the double panel and the surrounding cottage-roof filled with larger sprays and pyamids of ovals in keeping with the centre ornament, the 'cottage-roof' with festoons of strawberries, the spine in eight panels with ovals, quatrefoils and four-leaf flowers as alternating centre-pieces surrounded by massed small tools with strapwork in black, inner dentelles and board edges with strawberry roll-tooling, comb-marbled endpapers, red silk ties, gilt page edges with FINE FORE-EDGE PAINTING OF THE ROYAL ARMS AND MOTTO in a field of flowers (upper cover with some splits in leather towards lower left hand corner, also affected by a few chips and slight discolouring in places, lower cover also with some surface splits, chips and small areas of discolouration, bottom and top board edges rather worn with bump to bottom edge of lower cover, some rubbing of joints, upper joints split, spine frayed at head, corners bumped). Provenance: Thomas Glover (early inscription on front blank); A.T. Henley, (sold Sotheby's, [1940s?], lot 288a, 'Property of A. T. Henley, Esq., of Guernsey,' to Foyle for £300, with catalogue description loosely inserted).
ONE OF THE FINEST KNOWN EXAMPLES OF SAMUEL MEARNE'S WORK, reproduced in H.M. Nixon English Restoration Bookbindings (London, 1974) no. 21. Nixon (p. 17) describes this Bible as a 'candidate for the King's own use ... from the library of Miss Christina Foyle at Beeleigh Abbey, and this probably dates from 1678. Again elaborately bound in red turkey with the cottage-roof design in black paint, it has Charles II's cypher on the covers but his arms and motto painted on the fore-edge.' The binding is similarly referred to in H.M. Nixon and M.M. Foot The History of Decorated Bookbinding in England (Oxford, 1992), p. 67. The urn corner-pieces on the inner panel may be a later addition.
Samuel Mearne was born in Reading on 20 April, 1624. He was apprenticed first to Robert Bates and then turned over either to Jeremy Arnold, a bookbinder, or John Arnold, a bookseller. He received his freedom in 1646, and in 1653 took on the first of his twelve apprentices. From 1660 until his death in 1683, Mearne held the appointment of Bookbinder to the King, although his increasing importance as a bookseller probably meant that he no longer bound books himself. His eldest son, Samuel, and his second son, Charles, both took part in the trade; the head of his workshop, Suckerman, was of great repute; and several of his apprentices became important binders in their own right. While Thomas Berthelet, Henry VIII's printer, is credited with being the first person in England to paint heraldic designs on book edges, this was on a closed book. Cyril Davneport maintains that the Mearne bindery was the first to use the technique of painting on a fanned fore-edge under gold leaf (see The Book: Its history and Development, New York, 1930, p. 146). The origin of this specialist art is further discussed in Carl J. Weber A Thousand and One Fore-Edge Paintings (Waterville, Maine, 1949), pp. 3-15. Arber I, 175; DMH 717; Wing S-2291.