Lot 403
  • 403


30,000 - 40,000 GBP
52,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Tiomna nuadh ar d Tigherana agus ar slanaightheora Josa Criosd... [translated by William Daniel]. Dublin: W. Kearney and Seón Francke [J. Franckton], 1602
  • paper
folio, 2 columns, Irish Letter, woodcut head-piece and ornament on title, inserted divisional title preceding Matthew, divisional titles for Mark and Luke, ff. 127-128 inserted on guards, seventeenth-century calf gilt, spine in six compartments, upper cover detached, neat tear in [first] d1, minor browing, binding rubbed


The Library of the Earls of Macclesfield, armorial bookplate and library stamps, sale at Sotheby's, Part Seven, 11 April 2006, lot 2337


Darlow & Moule 5532; Delaveau & Hillard 4342; STC 2958. See Bruce Dickins, "The Irish broadside of 1571 and Queen Elizabeth's types", The Cambridge Bibliographical Society I (1949-1953), pp.48-60.

Catalogue Note

A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IN IRISH. VERY RARE AT AUCTION: only this copy (from the Macclesfield Library) has appeared at auction in recent decades. The first idea of printing the New Testament in Irish was something conceived and paid for by Elizabeth I at some time before the end of 1567, when she paid for "the making of a caracter to print the New Testament in Irish". It was not until the end of her reign that the book was printed, and even then it would seem that it was not until the reign of her successor that it was published. A translation of the New Testament was certainly in existence by 1587, but had not been printed partly for reasons of cost and partly because there were no skilled printers or type. Kearney or O'Kearney seems to have worked within Trinity College Dublin. The preface to this 1602 New Testament names various persons who had a hand in the translation. Kearney seems to have printed at TCD as far as the end of Luke V, but then there was a gap of five years, during which the remaining books were translated. This was printed at the cost of the province of Connaught. Printing was resumed by John Franckton or Francke working at a different location in the house of William Ussher. Francke worked in Dublin from 1618 until about 1620, importing paper and skins for binding from Chester; he also printed the Irish translation of the Book of Common Prayer in 1608.

The types were used from time to time until the mid-seventeenth century, but on 4 August 1680 the Bishop of Meath, Henry Jones, wrote to Robert Boyle, saying that he had the manuscript of Bedell's translation of the Old Testament, but lamenting that the "Irish letters stamped for the first printing here [in Ireland] of the common prayer and new testament" had disappeared (he says they had been "gotten away by the Jesuits, and are now at Doway for Irish prints"). It was for this reason that Moxon was commissioned to cut a new type. In spite of the date copies were not put on sale until after the accession of James to the throne of England, and the two leaves of dedication to him were then inserted.