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Saint Augustine (354-430)

El alma del incomparable San Augustin sacada del cverpo de sus confessiones. 1622

17.9 x 12.5 x 1.6 cm (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1081326

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  • This book of extracts from Augustine’s Confessions is beautifully decorated in gold with the arms of Catherine of Braganza in the centre. The strapwork design, filled with pointille volutes, circles and dots, is similar to work being produced by the 'Queens Binder A', the name given to a prominent London bookbinding workshop operating c. 1670-90 and producing high-quality work for royal patrons.

    The book was probably presented to Catherine by Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll. It later came into several prominent collections, including that of the barrister and antiquarian Philip Carteret Webb, Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill, and William Beckford at Fonthill Abbey.

    Binding information

    Contemporary red goatskin binding; gold-tooling throughout.

    Design identical on both sides, with elaborate strapwork forming four compartments with pointille volutes, circles and dots. Centre of strapwork contains the arms of Catherine of Braganza (arms of England and Scotland impaled with arms of Portugal, enclosed within a wreath and surmounted by a crown). Outer border of triple fillet surmounted by dotted roll tool.

    Spine divided into six compartments by raised bands. Each compartment tooled with double fillet and dotted roll border and filled with flower-heads and swirls, the most common used being a flower-head within a circular border. Second compartment lettered: ‘ALMA DEL SAN AVGV STIN’.

    All edges gilt.

    Similar bindings by the Queens Binder A include BL Davis 187; BL Davis 189. For the Queens Binder A, and his possible identity as a London binder called Nott, see Nixon and Foot, Decorated Bookbinding (1992), pp. 73-4.


    Likely presented to Catherine of Braganza by Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll; later came into the collection of the barrister and antiquarian Philip Carteret Webb. Following Webb's death in 1770 it was purchased by Horace Walpole and formed part of his collection at Strawberry Hill. It then formed a part of the library of William Beckford at Fonthill Abbey; sold at Sotheby’s in 1882 as part of the first portion of the Beckford Library sale (Lot 378). Probably acquired by the Royal Library in the late nineteenth century.

  • Measurements

    17.9 x 12.5 x 1.6 cm (book measurement (conservation))

    18.0 x 1.5 cm (book measurement (inventory))

  • Alternative title(s)

    Extracts from St. Augustine's Confessions. In Spanish.