Folio (290 x 182mm.), 496 leaves (of 570), preliminaries in black letter, text in Schwabacher, woodcut illustrations, one section-title with woodcut border, with 4 facsimile title-pages and facsimiles of all missing leaves, and a facsimile of a leaf from another edition of Coverdale's Bible inserted at end of preliminaries with a manuscript explanatory note by Francis Fry dated 1864, nineteenth-century brown morocco tooled in gilt and black in period style, gilt edges, lacking 72 text leaves and two blanks, i.e. [cross]1-8 (title-page and preliminaries), a1-6 (start of Genesis with woodcuts), b1-6, c1-6, d3-4, f6, g5, k6 (17/18th c watermark fools cap), aa1-2 (start of 2nd part of OT), Aaa1 (start of Prophets), A1 (start of Apocrypha), O6 (blank), MM6-NN1, OO1-TT6 (end, TT6 blank), quire d defective with some text supplied in manuscript facsimile, g1 defective with text supplied in manuscript facsimile, l2 torn and repaired, p6 torn at foot with a few words supplied in manuscript facsimile, hole in Aaa4 with loss of a few words, K4 torn and repaired, 2A1 repaired at edges (slightly affecting woodcuts), folding map in facsimile (watermark of 17th century), some headlines and printed marginalia shaved or cropped, some marginalia lost in gutter, some marginal paper repairs, extremities rubbed
The first edition of the whole Bible in English, including the Apocrypha. It was preceded by Wycliffe's translation of c.1382, and the sections translated by William Tyndale in the 1520s.
Coverdale's Bible is very much a product of his time; in the wake of Henry VIII's split with Rome and the declaration of an independent English church, here we find a title-page by Hans Holbein the Younger, painter to the King, depicting Henry enthroned being given the Bible by his bishops, directly beneath an image of God. Thomas Cromwell, one of Henry's closest advisors at this time, as good as commissioned Coverdale's endeavours, and Cranmer, the recently appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, had been actively encouraging the production of an authorised Bible in English.
The early years of the sixteenth century witnessed great activity and progress in Biblical textual criticism and translation, from Erasmus's New Instrument of 1516 to the Complutensian Polyglot of 1514-1517, not forgetting Luther's influential German translation and other vernacular versions. The work of Tyndale and Coverdale can be seen as worthy products of this intellectual endeavour - indeed the Psalter, as translated by Coverdale, was in use in English churches until very recently. Unlike Tyndale, Coverdale knew no Greek or Hebrew, so his version combines elements of Zwingli's Swiss-German version of 1524-1529, the literal Latin version of Sanctes Pagninus of 1528, Luther's German Bible of 1532, the Vulgate and, of course, Tyndale's English translations.
The location of the printing of the Coverdale Bible has long been in dispute. It is generally assumed to have been printed in Cologne or Marburg by Cervicornus and Soter; however, it has recently been suggested that as Antwerp had good trade links with England at this time, particular in the printing of English books for the English market and in vernacular bibles generally, and as Coverdale is known to have been working in Antwerp in the early 1530s for Martin de Keyser, an Antwerp printer, it could well be more likely that the book was printed there, by de Keyser at the expense of the merchant Jacob van Meteren.
Copies of the Coverdale Bible are always incomplete and several others also have the additional facsimile title-pages, as it is not known with which title-page each copy was originally issued. The Hesketh copy also has a facsimile of the unique leaf of preliminary matter known only from the Holkham Hall copy (now in the British Library). The present copy also contains a 3pp. manuscript letter dated 1868 pasted to the front flyleaf, presumably in the hand of Lord Peckover, explaining the different title-pages.
In Howell's 1974 census of the 77 surviving copies, this copy is listed as X76. The census includes copies located in the US and the UK, together with any copies that have appeared for sale since 1900.
Alexander Peckover, who owned this copy, was Lord Lieutenant of Cambridge, and as such was the first Quaker peer.
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