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London : JW Pasham

The Holy Bible 1776

11.5 x 7.5 x 3.5 cm (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1081306

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  • Bound in tortoiseshell with gold inlay, gilt clasps and spine-hinges; all edges gilt and gauffered.

    This Bible, along with a Prayer Book (RCIN 1081307), was bound in tortoiseshell, with gold inlay and gilt spine-hinges and clasps. The simpler decoration on the Prayer Book, and variations in the shape of the coronets, suggest that the bindings were not executed by the same binder at the same time.

    The initials AF in gold in the middle of the front board stand for Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843), sixth son of George III and Queen Charlotte. The most intellectual of their sons, he went abroad as a young man for his health, first to Göttingen University in Hanover, and then to Rome. There, in addition to contracting the first of his two morganatic marriages, he fostered his academic interests, predominantly theology. After returning to England in 1804, the Duke established a library in his apartments in Kensington Palace. By 1830, with judicious buying by the Duke and his librarian, TJ Pettigrew, this magnificent collection contained over fifty thousand volumes, including about a thousand editions of the Bible. As with George III's library at Buckingham House, scholars were granted access. Pettigrew arranged it in six subject categories, and published a catalogue of the Bibles.

    The fact that the 1776 Bible is not included in Pettigrew's catalogue suggests that it was a more intimate possession, for personal use. Each volume has its own gold-tooled leather box. The set was acquired by Queen Mary, as a note in her hand records: 'Augustus Frederick Duke of Sussex prayer books, for Windsor Library some day.' Another hand has added: 'From Q. Mary Feb. 1939.' The reacquisition of belongings of members of the Hanoverian dynasty was one of Queen Mary's abiding interests. The Bible has 1,176 pages, with two volumes in one, and was printed in London by JW Pasham.

    Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002.

    Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex; his sale, Christie & Manson, 26 July 1845 (415; £6 10s., bought by a Mr Cooper); acquired by Queen Mary, and by her transferred to the Royal Library, 1939

  • Measurements

    11.5 x 7.5 x 3.5 cm (book measurement (conservation))

    11.5 x 3.0 cm (book measurement (inventory))

    12.0 x 4.0 cm (book in box)

    15.5 x 8.5 cm (book in box)

  • Alternative title(s)

    The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the new, with notes

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.