MASONIC BINDING BY JOHN LOVEJOY

The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the Use of the Church of England, together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in Churches. 

London, Millar Ritchie for J. Good and E. Harding, 1794. 

Large 4to (c. 278 x 226 mm), pp. xxviii, 634, [2], 63, [1, blank], [176], with engraved dedication (dated 23 July 1791) and 15 stipple-engraved plates by various artists; with part-titles, stipple-engraved head-piece vignette to p. 1; a few signatures heavily spotted, otherwise a very good copy; in contemporary green straight-grained morocco by Lovejoy, borders gilt with masonic tools between swags of 3 foliate tools, outer borders roll-tooled in gilt, spine gilt in compartments, lettered directly in one, others with central Sun tool, winged Asclepian staff as corner-pieces, arranged with stars, points, fleurons, and heads, board edges, turn-ins, and morocco hinges roll-tooled in gilt, edges gilt, endbands sewn in red, white, and green on 2 cores, ribbon place-markers, marbled endpapers; a few minor scuffs and marks, very short split to upper joint, lower corners lightly bumped, neatly retouched at extremities, nonetheless very well-preserved; early ink ownership inscriptions ‘Elizabeth Tynell’ to front free endpaper verso and ‘John Smith’ to front flyleaf.

£1850

Approximately:
US $2366€2189

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The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the Use of the Church of England, together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in Churches. 

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A splendid copy of the Good and Harding Book of Common Prayer, in a striking masonic binding by John Lovejoy. 

The London bookbinder John Lovejoy (fl. c. 1781–1812) is known by his distinctive Masonic bindings, employing an array of Masonic tools often arranged in striking compositions.  He was himself a Mason, from around 1791 until 1812.  His practices as an employer, however, earned him a certain notoriety among binders and the nickname ‘the Tyrant’: as a journeyman in 1781 he advocated a reduction in the working day (from fourteen to thirteen hours) but, when a master binder, he bitterly opposed such a change and was among the employers who prosecuted the leaders of the 1786 strike.  Although it is accepted that Lovejoy was not, as previously thought, the only binder using Masonic motifs, close comparison of the tools with other examples of his work suggests this binding to be his. 

Good and Harding’s 1794 Common Prayer appeared in two settings, one octavo and the other a splendid large quarto, as here.  The fine series of stipple-engravings shows both biblical and liturgical scenes, including several by Federico Bartolozzi and Luigi Schiavonetti after Thomas Stothard and Silvester Harding.  The plates are variously dated between 1791 (the date of the dedication) and 1794, suggesting the work was several years in progress and perhaps issued in parts; copies are rarely seen with all fifteen engravings. 

ESTC T88819; for Lovejoy, see Ramsden, London Bookbinders 1780–1840, pl. XIX; and Howe & Childe, The Society of London Bookbinders, 1780–1950. 

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