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Full text of "English embroidered bookbindings"

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VOLUME I 
ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BOOKBINDINGS 

By CYRIL DAVENPORT, F.S.A. 

VOLUME II 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ENGLISH PRINTING 

Bv H. R. PLOMER 

VOLUME III 

ENGLISH BOOK COLLECTORS 

By W. Y. FLETCHER 



LONDON 
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO., LIMITED 



ENGLISH 
EMBROIDERED 
BOOKBINDINGS 



^ 




ig Christopherson, Historia Ecclesiastica. 

Lovanii, 1569. 




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509- 



EDITED BY 
ALFRED POLLARD 



ENGLISH 
EMBROIDERED 
BOOKBINDINGS 

BY CYRIL DAVENPORT, F.S.A. 

AUTHOR OF 

'THE ENGLISH REGALIA' 

ETC. 




LONDON 

KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER 

AND COMPANY, LIMITED 

1899 



C|)e <2ngU.st) 
'Boofeman'0 

litjrarp 



/ ^/S" 



Edinburgh : T. and A. Cohstaile, Printers to Her Majesty 



CONTENTS AND LIST OF PLATES 



General Introduction, 
By Alfred W. Pollard. 



PAGE 

ix 



ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 
By Cyril Davenport. 

Chapter I. — Introductory, 



PLATES. 

Embroidered Bag for Psalms. London, 1633, 



2. Embroidered Cover for New Testament. 
1640, .... 



London, 



Chapter II. — Books Bound in Canvas, 



6. 

7- 
8. 

9- 
10. 
II. 

12. 

13- 

14. 



PLATES. 

The Felbrigge Psalter. 13th-century MS., 
The Miroir or Glasse of the Synneful Soul. 

the Princess Elizabeth. 1544, 
Prayers of Queen Katherine Parr. MS 

Princess Elizabeth. 1545, 
Christian Prayers. London, 1581, 
Psalms and Common Praier. London, 1606, 
Bible, etc. London, 161 2, 
Sermons by Samuel Ward. London, 1626-7, 
New Testament, etc. London, 1625-35, 
The Daily Exercise of a Christian. London, 
Bible. London, 1626, 
Bible, etc. London, 1642, 
Bible. London, 1648, 



MS. by 
by the 



1623, 



17 
18 



28 



29 

32 

33 

37 
38 
39 
41 
42 
44 

45 
48 

49 



vi CONTENTS AND LIST OF PLATES 



PAGE 

Chapter III.— Books Bound in Velvet, . 52 

PLATES. 

15. Trhs ample description de toute la terre Saincte, 

etc. MS. 1540, . . . . -52 

16. Biblia. Tigun, 1543, . . . -54 

17. II Petrarcha. Venetia, 1544, . . . -55 

18. Queen Mary's Psalter. 14th-century MS., . '57 

19. Christopherson, Historia Ecclesiastica. 

Lovanii, 1569, . . . . Frontispiece 

20. Christian Prayers. London, 1570, . . -59 
a I. Parker, De antiquitate Ecclesise Britannicse. 

London, iS72i • . • .60 

22. The Epistles of St. Paul. London, i$i^, . . 63 

23. Christian Prayers, etc. London, 1584, . . 65 

24. Orationis Dominicae Explicatio, etc. Genevce, jt,S^, 67 

25. Bible. London, 1583, . . . .68 

26. The Commonplaces of Peter Martyr. London, 1^8;^, 69 

27. Biblia. Aniverpia, 1590, . . . -7° 

28. Udall, Sermons. London, 1596, . . '71 

29. Collection of Sixteenth-Century Tracts, . •7* 

30. Bacon, Opera. Londini, 1623, . . -75 

31. Bacon, Essays. 1625, . . . -76 

32. Common Prayer. London, 1638, . . -77 

33. Bible. Cambridge, 1674, . . . -78 



Chapter IV. — Books Bound in Satin, . 80 



PLATES. 

34. Collection of Sixteenth-Century Tracts, 

35. New Testament in Greek. Leyden, 1576, 

36. Bible. London, 161 9, 

37. Emblemes Chrestiens. MS. 1624, . 

38. New Testament. London, 1625, 



80 
8i 

84 

85 
86 



CONTENTS AND LIST OF PLATES vii 



39. New Testament and Psalms. London, 1630, 

40. Henshaw, Horae Successivae. ' London, 1O32, 

41. Psalms. London, 1633, 

42. Psalms. London, 1635, 

43. Psalms. London, 1633, 

44. Bible. London, 1638, 

45. Psalms. London, 1639, 

46. The Way to True Happiness. London, 1639 

47. New Testament. London, 1640, 

48. Psalms. London, 1641, 

49. Psalms. London, 1643, 

50. Psalms. London, 1643, 

51. Psalms. London, 1646, 

52. Bible. London, 1646, 



PAGE 

89 
90 

92 

94 
96 
98 
99 

lOI 

103 

105 
106 

108 

109 




GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

NEW series of ' Books about 
Books,' exclusively English in its 
aims, may seem to savour of the 
patriotism which, in matters of 
art and historical research, is, with 
reason enough, often scoffed at as a treacherous 
guide. No doubt in these pleasant studies 
patriotism acts as a magnifying-glass, making 
us unduly exaggerate details. On the other hand, 
it encourages us to try to discover them, and 
just at present this encouragement seems to be 
needed. There are so many gaps in our know- 
ledge of the history of books in England that 
we can hardly claim that our own dwelling is set 
in order, and yet many of our bookmen appear 
more inclined to re-decorate their neighbours' 
houses than to do work that still urgently needs 
to be done at home. The reasons for this trans- 
ference of energy are not far to seek. It is quite 
easy to be struck with the inferiority of English 
books and their accessories, such as bindings and 
illustrations, to those produced on the Continent. 

b 



X GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

To compare the books printed by Caxton with 
the best work of his German or Italian con- 
temporaries, to compare the books bound for 
Henry, Prince of Wales, with those bound for 
the Kings of France, to try to find even a dozen 
English books printed before 1640 with woodcuts 
(not imported from abroad) of any real artistic 
merit — if any one is anxious to reinforce his 
national modesty, here are three very efficacious 
methods of doing it ! On the other hand, English 
book-collectors have always been cosmopolitan in 
their tastes, and without leaving England it is 
possible to study to some effect, in public or 
private libraries, the finest books of almost any 
foreign country. It is small wonder, therefore, 
that our bookmen, when they have been minded 
to write on their hobbies, have sought beauty and 
stateliness of work where they could most readily 
find them, and that the labourers in the book- 
field of our own country are not numerous. 
Touchstone's remark, 'a poor thing, but mine 
own,' might, on the worst view of the case, have 
suggested greater diligence at home ; but on a 
wider view English book-work is by no means 
a ' poor thing.' Its excellence at certain periods 
is as striking as its inferiority at others, and it 
is a literal fact that there is no art or craft 



ENGLISH PRINTING ' xi 

connected with books in which England, at one 
time or another, has not held the primacy in 
Europe. 

It would certainly be unreasonable to complain 
that printing with movable types was not invented 
at a time better suited to our national convenience. 
Yet the fact that the invention was made just in 
the middle of the fifteenth century constituted a 
handicap by which the printing trade in this 
country was for generations overweighted. At 
almost any earlier period, more particularly from 
the beginning of the fourteenth century to the 
first quarter of the fifteenth, England would have 
been as well equipped as any foreign country to 
take its part in the race. From the production of 
Queen Mary's Psalter at the earlier date to that 
of the Sherborne Missal at the later, English 
manuscripts, if we may judge from the scanty 
specimens which the evil days of Henry viii. 
and Edward vi. have left us, may vie in beauty 
of writing and decoration with the finest examples 
of Continental art. If John Siferwas, instead of 
William Caxton, had introduced printing into 
England, our English incunabula would have 
taken a far higher place. But the sixty odd years 
which separate the two men were absolutely 
disastrous to the English book-trade. After her 



xii GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

exhausting and futile struggle with France, Eng- 
land was torn asunder by the wars of the Roses, 
and by the time these were ended the school of 
illumination, so full of promise, and seemingly 
so firmly established, had absolutely died out. 
When printing was introduced England possessed 
no trained illuminators or skilful scribes such 
as in other countries were forced to make the 
best of the new art in order not to lose their 
living, nor were there any native wood-engravers 
ready to illustrate the new books. I have never 
myself seen or heard of a ' Caxton ' in which an 
illuminator has painted a preliminary border or 
initial letters ; even the rubrication, where it exists, 
is usually a disfigurement ; while as for pictures, 
it has been unkindly said that inquiry whence 
they were obtained is superfluous, since any boy 
with a knife could have cut them as well. 

Making its start under these unfavourable 
conditions, the English book-trade was exposed 
at once to the full competition of the Continental 
presses, Richard iii. expressly excluding it from 
the protection which was given to other in- 
dustries. Practically all learned books of every 
sort, the great majority of our service-books, 
most grammars for use in English schools, and 
even a few popular books of the kind to which 



ENGLISH PRINTING xiii 

Caxton devoted himself, were produced abroad 
for the English market and freely imported. 
Only those who mistake the shadow for the 
substance will regret this free trade, to which 
we owe the development of scholarship in 
England during the sixteenth century. None 
the less, it was hard on a young industry, and 
though Pynson, Wynkyn de Worde, the Faques, 
Berthelet, Wolfe, John Day, and others produced 
fine books in England during the sixteenth 
century, the start given to the Continental presses 
was too great, and before our printers had fully 
caught up their competitors, they too were seized 
with the carelessness and almost incredible bad 
taste which marks the books of the first half of 
the seventeenth century in every country of 
Europe. 

Towards the close of the eighteenth century, 
as is well known, the French thought sufficiently 
well of Baskerville's types to purchase a fount after 
his death for the printing of an important edition 
of the works of Voltaire. But the merits of 
Baskerville as a printer, never very cordially 
admitted, are now more hotly disputed than ever ; 
and if I am asked at what period English printing 
has attained that occasional primacy which I have 
claimed for our exponents of all the bookish arts. 



xiv GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

I would boldly say that it possesses it at the 
present day. On the one hand, the Kelmscott 
Press books, on their own lines, are the finest 
and the most harmonious which have ever been 
produced ; on the other, the book-work turned 
out in the ordinary way of business by the five 
or six leading printers of England and Scotland 
seems to me, both in technical qualities and in 
excellence of taste, the finest in the world, and 
with no rival worth mentioning, except in the 
work of one or two of the best firms in the United 
States. Moreover, as far as I can learn, it is only 
in Great Britain and America that the form of 
books is now the subject of the ceaseless experi- 
ment and ingenuity which are the signs of a 
period of artistic activity. 

As regards book-illustration the same claim 
may be put forward, though with a little more 
hesitation. We have been taught lately, with 
insistence, that ' the sixties ' marked an epoch 
in English art, solely from the black and white 
work in illustrated books. At that period our 
book-pictures are said to have been the best in 
the world ; unfortunately our book-decoration, 
whether better or worse than that of other 
countries, was almost unmitigatedly bad. In 
the last quarter of a century our decorative work 



BOOK-ILLUSTRATION xv 

has improved in the most striking manner ; our 
illustrations, if judged merely for their pictorial 
qualities, have not advanced. In the eyes of 
artists the sketches for book-work now being 
produced in other countries are probably as good 
as our own. But an illustration is not merely 
a picture, it is a picture to be placed in a certain 
position in a printed book, and in due relation 
to the size of the page and the character of the 
type. English book-illustrators by no means 
always realise this distinction, yet there is on 
the whole a greater feeling for these proprieties 
in English books than in those of other countries, 
and this is an important point in estimating 
merits. Another important point is that the rule 
of the ' tint ' or ' half-tone ' block, with its inevit- 
able accompaniment of loaded paper, ugly to the 
eye and heavy in the hand, though it has seriously 
damaged English illustrated work, has not yet 
gained the predominance it has in other countries. 
Our best illustrated books are printed from line- 
blocks, and there are even signs of a possible 
revival of artistic wood-engraving. 

In endeavouring to make good my assertion 
of what I have called the occasional primacy of 
English book-work, I am not unaware of the 
danger of trying, or seeming to try, to play the 



xvi GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

strains of * Rule Britannia ' on my own poor penny 
whistle. As regards manuscripts, therefore, it 
is a pleasure to be able to seek shelter behind 
the authority of Sir Edward Maunde Thompson, 
whose words in this connection carry all the 
more weight, because he has shown himself a 
severe critic of the claims which have been put 
forward on behalf of several fine manuscripts to 
be regarded as English. In the closing para- 
graphs of his monograph on English Illuminated 
Manuscripts he thus sums up the pretensions of 
the English school : — 

' The freehand drawing of our artists under the Anglo-Saxon 
kings was incomparably superior to the dead copies from Byzan- 
tine models which were in favour abroad. The artistic instinct 
was not destroyed, but rather strengthened, by the incoming 
of Norman influence ; and of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries 
there is abundant material to show that English book-decoration 
was then at least equal to that of neighbouring countries. For 
our art of the early fourteenth century we claim a still higher 
position, and contend that no other nation could at that time 
produce such graceful drawing. Certainly inferior to this high 
standard of drawing was the work of the latter part of that 
century ; but still, as we have seen, in the miniatures of this 
time we have examples of a rising school of painting which bid 
fair to attain to a high standard of excellence, and which only 
failed for political causes.' ^ 

To this judicial pronouncement on the excel- 

1 English Illuminated Manuscripts. By Sir Edward Maunde Thompson, 
K.C.B. (Kegan Paul, 1895), pp. 66, 67. 



GREAT COLLECTORS xvii 

lence of English manuscripts on their decorative 
side, we may fairly add the fact that manuscripts 
of literary importance begin at an earlier date in 
England than in any other country, and that the 
Cotton MS. oi Beowzclf ^Lud the miscellanies which 
go by the names of the Exeter Book and the 
Vercelli Book have no contemporary parallels in 
the rest of Europe. 

When we turn from books, printed or in manu- 
script, to their possessors, it is only just to begin 
with a compliment to our neighbours across the 
Channel. No English bookman holds the unique 
position of Jean Grolier, and ' les femmes biblio- 
philes ' of England have been few and undistin- 
guished compared with those of France. Grolier, 
however, and his fair imitators, as a rule, bought 
only the books of their own day, giving them 
distinction by the handsome liveries which they 
made them don. Our English collectors have more 
often been of the omnivorous type, and though 
Lords Lumley and Arundel in the sixteenth 
century cannot, even when their forces are joined, 
stand up against De Thou, in Sir Robert Cotton, 
Harley, Thomas Rawlinson, Lord Spencer, Heber, 
Grenville, and Sir Thomas Phillips (and the list 
might be doubled without much relaxation of 
the standard), we have a succession of English 



xviii GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

collectors to whom it would be difficult to produce 
foreign counterparts. Round these dii niajores 
have clustered innumerable demigods of the book- 
market, and certainly in no other country has 
collecting been as widely diffused, and pursued 
with so much zest, as in England during the 
present century. It is to be regretted that so 
few English collectors have cared to leave their 
marks of ownership on the books they have taken 
so much pleasure in bringing together. Michael 
Wodhull was a model in this respect, for his book- 
stamp is one of the most pleasing of English 
origin, and his autograph notes recording the 
prices he paid for his treasures, and his assiduous 
collation of them, make them doubly precious in 
the eyes of subsequent owners. Mr. Grenville 
also had his book-stamp, though there is little 
joy to be won from it, for it is unpleasing in 
itself, and is too often found spoiling a fine old 
binding. Mr. Cracherode's stamp was as grace- 
ful as Wodhull's ; but, as a rule, our English 
collectors, though, as Mr. Fletcher is discovering, 
many more of them than is generally known have 
possessed a stamp, have not often troubled to use 
it, and their collections have never obtained the 
reputation which they deserve, mainly for lack 
of marks of ownership to keep them green in 



BOOK-PLATES xix 

the memory of later possessors. That this should 
be so in a country where book-plates have been 
so common may at first seem surprising. But 
book-plates everywhere have been used rather 
by the small collectors than the great ones, and 
the regrettable peculiarity of our English book- 
men is, not that they despised this rather fugitive 
sign of possession, but that for the most part 
they despised book-stamps as well. 

Of book-plates themselves I have no claim to 
speak ; but for good taste and grace of design 
the best English Jacobean and Chippendale speci- 
mens seem to me the most pleasing of their kind, 
and certainly in our own day the work of Mr. 
Sherborn has no rival, except in that of Mr. 
French, who, in technique, would, I imagine, 
not refuse to call himself his disciple. 

I have purposely left to the last the subject 
of Bindings, as this, being more immediately 
cognate to Mr. Davenport's book, may fairly be 
treated at rather greater length. If the French 
dictum ' la reliure est un art tout fran^ais ' is not 
without its historical justification, it is at least 
possible to show that England has done much 
admirable work, and that now and again, as in 
the other bookish arts, she has attained pre- 
eminence. 



XX GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

The first point which may fairly be made is 
that England is the only country besides France 
in which the art has been consistently practised. 
In Italy, binding, like printing, flourished for a 
little over half a century with extraordinary vigour 
and grace, and then fell suddenly and completely 
from its high estate. From 1465 to the death 
of Aldus the books printed in Italy were the 
finest in the world ; from the beginning of the 
work of Aldus to about 1560 Italian bindings 
possess a freedom of graceful design which even 
the superior technical skill quickly gained by the 
French does not altogether outbalance. But just 
as after about 1520 a finely printed Italian book 
can hardly be met with, so after 1560, save for 
a brief period during which certain fan-shaped 
designs attained prettiness, there have been no 
good Italian bindings. In Germany, when in 
the fifteenth century, before the introduction of 
gold tooling, there was a thriving school of binders 
working in the mediaeval manner, the Renaissance 
brought with it an absolute decline. Holland, 
again, which in the fifteenth century had made 
a charming use of large panel stamps, has since 
that period had only two binders of any reputa- 
tion, Magnus and Poncyn, of Amsterdam, who 
worked for the Elzdviers and Louis xiv. Of 



ENGLISH BINDINGS xxi 

Spanish bindings few fine specimens have been 
unearthed, and these are all early. Only England 
. can boast that, like France, she has possessed one 
school of binders after another, working with 
varying success from the earliest times down to 
the present century, in which bookbinding all 
over Europe has suffered from the servility with 
which the old designs, now for the first time 
fully appreciated, have been copied and imitated. 
In this length of pedigree it must be noted 
that England far surpasses even France herself. 
The magnificent illuminated manuscripts, the 
finest of their age, which were produced at 
Winchester during the tenth century, were no 
doubt bound in the jewelled metal covers of 
which the rapacity of the sixteenth century has 
left hardly a single trace in this country. But 
early in the twelfth century, if not before, the 
Winchester bookmen turned their attention also 
to leather binding, and the school of design which 
they started, spreading to Durham, London, and 
Oxford, did not die out in England until it was 
ousted by the large panel stamps introduced from 
France at the end of the fifteenth. The pre- 
dominant feature of these Winchester bindings 
(of which a fine example from the library of 
William Morris recently sold for £i8o), and of 



xxii GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

their successors, is the employment of small 
stamps, from half an inch to an inch in size, 
sometimes circular, more often square or pear- 
shaped, and containing figures, grotesques, or 
purely conventional designs. A circle, or two 
half-circles, formed by the repetition of one stamp, 
within one or more rectangles formed by others, 
is perhaps the commonest scheme of decoration, 
but it is the characteristic of these bindings, as of 
the finest in gold tooling, that by the repetition 
of a few small patterns an endless variety of 
designs could be built up. ^ The British Museum 
possesses a few good examples of this stamp- 
work, but the finest collections of them are in 
the Cathedral libraries at Durham and Hereford. 
Any one, however, who is interested in this work 
can easily acquaint himself with it by consulting 
the unique collection of rubbings carefully taken 
by Mr. Weale and deposited in the National Art 
Library at the South Kensington Museum. In 
these rubbings, as in no other way, the history of 
English binding can be studied from the earliest 
Winchester books to the charming Oxford bind- 
ings executed by Thomas Hunt, the English 
partner of the Cologne printer, Rood, about 1481. 
During the first half of this period the English 
leather binders were the finest in Europe ; during 



ENGLISH BINDINGS xxiii 

the second, the Germans pressed them hard, and 
when the large panel stamps, three or four inches 
square and more, were introduced in Holland and 
France, the English adaptations of them were 
distinctly inferior to the originals. The earliest 
English bindings with gold tooling were, of 
course, also imitative. The use of gold reached 
this country but slowly, as the first known Eng- 
lish binding, in which it occurs, is on a book 
printed in 1541, by which time the art had been 
common in Italy for a generation. The English 
bindings found on books bound for Henry viii., 
Edward vi., and Mary i., all of which are roughly 
assigned to Berthelet as the Royal binder, re- 
semble the current Italian designs of the day, 
with sufficient differences to make it probable 
that they were produced by Englishmen. We 
know, however, that until the close of the century 
there were occasional complaints of the presence 
of foreign binders in London, and it is probable 
that the Grolieresque bindings executed for 
Wotton were foreign rather than English. Where, 
however, we find work on English books dis- 
tinctly unlike anything in France or Italy, it is 
reasonable to assign it to a native school, and 
such a school seems to have grown up about 
1570, in the workshop of John Day, the helper of 



xxlv GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

Archbishop Parker in so many of his literary 
undertakings. These bindings attributed to Day, 
especially those in which he worked with white 
leather on brown, although they have none of the 
French delicacy of tooling, perhaps for this reason 
attack the problem of decoration with a greater 
sense of the difference between the styles suitable 
for a large book and a small than is always found 
in France, where the greatest binders, such as 
Nicholas Eve and Le Gascon, often covered large 
folios with endless repetitions of minute tools 
whose full beauty can only be appreciated on 
duodecimos or octavos. The English designs 
with a large centre ornament and corner-pieces are 
rich and impressive, and we may fairly give Day 
and his fellows the palm for originality and effec- 
tiveness among Elizabethan binders. In the 
next reign the French use of the semd or powder, 
a single small stamp, of a fleur-de-lys, a thistle, a 
crown, or the like, impressed in rows all over the 
cover, was increasingly imitated in England, very 
unsuccessfully, and, save for a few traces of the 
style of Day, the leather bindings of the first third 
of the century deserve the worst epithets which 
can be given them. 

Until, however, French fashions came into 
vogue after the Restoration, English binders had 



ENGLISH BINDINGS xxv 

never been content to regard leather as the sole 
material in which they could work. Embroidered 
bindings had come early into use in England, and 
a Psalter embroidered by Anne Felbrigge towards 
the close of the fourteenth century is preserved 
at the British Museum, and shown in one of Mr. 
Davenport's illustrations. In the sixteenth century 
embroidered work was very popular with the 
Tudor princesses, gold and silver thread and 
pearls being largely used, often with very decora- 
tive effect. The simplest of these covers are also 
the best — but great elaboration was often em- 
ployed, and on a presentation copy of Archbishop 
Parker's De Antiquitate Ecclesice BritanniccB 
we find a clever but rather grotesque representa- 
tion of a deer-paddock. Under the Stuarts the 
lighter feather-stitch was preferred, and there 
seems to have been a regular trade in embroidered 
Bibles and Prayer-books of small size, sometimes 
with floral patterns, sometimes with portraits of 
the King, or Scriptural scenes. A dealer's freak 
which compelled the British Museum to buy a 
pair of elaborate gloves of the period rather than 
lose a finely embroidered Psalter, with which they 
went, was certainly a fortunate one, enabling us 
to realise that in hands thus gloved these little 
bindings, always pretty, often really artistic, must 

d 



xxvl GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

have looked exactly right, while their vivid col- 
ours must have been admirably in harmony with 
the gay Cavalier dresses. 

Besides furnishing a ground for embroidery, 
velvet bindings were often decorated, in England, 
with goldsmith work. One of the most beautiful 
little bookcovers in existence is on a book of 
prayers, bound for Queen Elizabeth in red velvet, 
with a centre and corner pieces delicately en- 
amelled on gold. Under the Stuarts, again, we 
frequently find similar ornaments in engraved 
silver, and their charm is incontestable. 

Thus while for English bindings of this period 
in gilt leather we can only claim that Berthelet's 
show some freedom in their adaptation of Italian 
models, and Day's a more decided originality, we 
are entitled to set side by side with this scanty 
record a host of charming bindings in more femi- 
nine materials, which have no parallel in France, 
and certainly deserve some recognition. After 
the Restoration, however, leather quickly ousted 
its competitors, and a school of designers and 
gilders arose in England, which, while taking its 
first inspiration from Le Gascon, soon developed 
an individual style. In effectiveness, though 
not in minute accuracy of execution, this may 
rank with the best in Europe. We can trace the 



ENGLISH BINDINGS xxvii 

beginnings of this lighter and most graceful work 
as early as the thirties, and it might be contended 
with a certain plausibility that it began at the 
Universities. Certainly the two earliest examples 
known to me — the copy of her Statutes presented 
to Charles i. by Oxford in 1634, and the Little 
Gidding Hannony of 1635, the tools employed 
in which have been shown by Mr. Davenport to 
have been used also by Buck, of Cambridge — are 
two of the finest English bindings in existence, 
and in both cases, despite the multiplicity of the 
tiny tools employed, there is a unity and largeness 
of design which, as I have ventured to hint, is 
not always found even in the best French work. 
The chief English bindings after the Restoration, 
those associated with the name of Samuel Mearne, 
the King's Binder, preserve this character, though 
the attempt to break the formality of the rectangle 
by the bulges at the side and the little penthouses 
at foot and head (whence its name, the ' cottage ' 
style) was not wholly successful. The use of the 
labour-saving device of the ' roll,' in preference to 
impressing each section of the pattern by hand, 
is another blot. Nevertheless, it is almost im- 
possible to find an English or Scotch binding of 
this period which is less than charming, and the 
best of them are admirable. At the beginning of 



xxviii GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

the eighteenth century a new grace was added 
by the inlaying of a leather of a second colour. 
These inlaid English bindings are few in number 
(the British Museum has not a single fine example), 
but those who know the specimens exhibited at 
the Burlington Fine Arts Club, two of which are 
figured in its Catalogue, will readily allow that 
their grace has never been surpassed. The fine 
Harleian bindings let us down gently from this 
eminence, and then, after a period of mere dul- 
ness, with the rise of Roger Payne we have again 
an English school (for Payne's traditions were 
worthily followed by Charles Lewis) which, by 
common consent, was the finest of its time. 
Payne's originality is, perhaps, not quite so ab- 
solute as has been maintained, for some of his 
tools were cut in the pattern of Mearne's, and it 
would be possible to find suggestions for some of 
his schemes of arrangement in earlier English 
work. If he borrowed, however, he borrowed 
from his English predecessors, and he brought 
to his task an individuality and an artistic in- 
stinct which cannot be denied. 

After Payne and Lewis, English binding, like 
French, became purely imitative in its designs ; 
but while in our own decade the French artists 
have endeavoured to shake themselves free from 



ENGLISH BINDINGS xxix 

old traditions by mere eccentricity, in England we 
have several living binders, such as Mr. Cobden 
Sanderson and Mr. Douglas Cockerell, who work 
with notable originality and yet with the strictest 
observance of the canons of their art. 

Moreover in the application of decorative 
designs to cloth cases England has invented, and 
England and America have brought to perfection, 
an inexpensive and very pleasing form of book- 
cover, which gives the bookman ample time to 
consider whether his purchase is worth the more 
permanent honours of gilded leather, and also, by 
the facts that it is avowedly temporary, and that 
its decoration is cheaply and easily effected by 
large stamps, renders forgivable vagaries of de- 
sign, which when translated, as they have been 
of late years in France, into the time-honoured 
and solemn leather, seem merely incongruous and 
irreverent. 

In binding, then, as in the other bookish arts, 
the part which English workers have played has 
been no insignificant or unworthy one, and the 
development of this art, as of the others, in our 
own country is worthy of study. In this case 
much has already been done, for the illustrations 
of English Bookbindings at the British Museum, 
edited, with introduction and descriptions by Mr. 



XXX GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

W. Y. Fletcher, present the student with the best 
possible survey of the whole subject, while the 
excellent treatises of Miss Prideaux and Mr. 
Home bring English bookbinding into relation 
with that of other countries. Here, then, there 
is no need of a new general history, but rather of 
special monographs, treating more in detail of 
the periods at which our English binders have 
done the best work. The old stamped bindings 
of the days of manuscript, the embroidered bind- 
ings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the 
leather bindings of Mearne and his fellows under 
the later Stuarts, and the work of Roger Payne — 
all these seem to offer excellent subjects for unpre- 
tentious monographs, and it is hoped that others 
of them besides the English Embroidered Bind- 
ings, with which Mr. Davenport has made a 
beginning, may be treated in this series. 

In other subjects the ground has not yet been 
cleared to the same extent, and for the history of 
English Book-Collectors and English Printing, 
not special monographs, but good general surveys 
are the first need. To say much on this subject 
might bring me perilously near to re-writing the 
prospectus of this series. It is enough to have 
pointed out that the bookish arts in England are 
well worth more study than they have yet been 



ENGLISH BINDINGS 



XXXI 



given, and that the pioneers who are endeavouring 
to enlarge knowledge, each in his own section, 
may fairly hope that their efforts will be received 
with indulgence and good-will. 

Alfred W. Pollard. 





CHAPTER I 

EMBROIDERED BOOKS 

|HE application of needlework to the 
embellishment of the bindings of 
books has hitherto almost escaped 
special notice. In most of the 
works on the subject of English 
Bookbinding, considered from the 
decorative point of view in distinction from 
the technical, a few examples of embroidered 
covers have indeed received some share of atten- 
tion. Thus in both Mr. H. B. Wheatley's and 
Mr. W. Y. Fletcher's works on the bindings in 
the British Museum, in Mr. Salt Brassington's 
Historic Bindings in tJie Bodleian Library and 
History of the Art of Bookbindings and in my 
own Portfolio monograph on ' Royal English 
Bookbindings,' some of the finer specimens of 
embroidered books still existing are illustrated 
and described. But up to the present no attempt 
has been made to deal with them as a separate 
subject. In the course, however, of the many 
lectures on Decorative Bookbinding which it has 
been my pleasure and honour to deliver during 



2 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

the past few years, I have invariably noticed that 
the pictures and descriptions of embroidered 
specimens have been the most keenly appreciated, 
and this favourable sign has led me to examine 
and consider such examples as have come in my 
way more carefully than I might otherwise have 
done. Very little study sufficed to show that in 
England alone there was for a considerable 
period a regular and large production of em- 
broidered books, and further, that the different 
styles of these embroideries are clearly defined, 
equally from the chronological and artistic points 
of view. A peculiarly English art which thus 
lends itself to orderly treatment may fairly be 
made the subject of a brief monograph. 

With the exception of point-lace, which is some- 
times made in small pieces for such purposes as 
ladies' cuffs or collars, decorative work produced 
by the aid of the needle is generally large. Cer- 
tainly this is so in its finest forms, which are 
probably to be found in the ecclesiastical vest- 
ments and in the altar frontals of the Renaissance 
period, or even earlier. On the other hand, such 
work as exists on books is always of small size, 
and, unlike the point-lace, it almost invariably has 
more than one kind of 'stitchery ' upon it — chain, 
split, tapestry, satin, or what not. 

Thus it can be claimed as a distinction for 
embroidered book-covers that as a class they 
are the smallest complete embroideries existing, 



EMBROIDERED BOOKS 3 

ranging upwards from about 6 inches by 3^ 
inches — the size of the smallest specimen known 
to me, when opened out to its fullest extent, 
sides and back in one. This covers a copy of 
the Psalms, printed in London in 1635, and is of 
white satin, with a small tulip worked in coloured 
silk on each side. 

An * Embroidered Book,' it should be said, 
means for my purpose a book which is covered, 
sides and back, by a piece of material ornamented 
with needlework, following a design made for 
the purpose of adorning that particular book. A 
cover consisting of merely a piece of woven stuff, 
or even a piece of true embroidery cut from a 
'larger piece, is not, from my point of view, pro- 
perly to be considered an ' embroidered book,' it 
being essential that the design as well as the 
workmanship should have been specially made for 
the book on which they are found ; and this, in the 
large majority of instances, is certainly the case. 

With regard to the transference of bindings 
to books other than those for which they were 
originally made, such a transference has often 
taken place in the case of mediasval books bound 
in ornamental metal, but even in these instances 
it must be recognised that such a change can 
seldom be made without serious detriment. It is 
chiefly indeed from some incongruity of style or 
technical mistake in the re-putting together that 
we are led to guess that the covers have been 



4 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

thus tampered with. Now and then such a trans- 
ference occurs in the case of leather-bound books, 
and in such instances is usually easy for a trained 
binder to detect. Embroidered covers, on the 
other hand, have rarely been changed, the motive 
for such a proceeding never having been strong, 
and the risk attending it being obvious enough. 
We may, in fact, feel tolerably sure that the large 
majority of embroidered covers still remain on 
the boards of the books they were originally 
made for. 

All the embroidered books now extant dating 
from before the reign of Queen Elizabeth have 
gone through the very unfortunate operation of 
're-backing,' in the course of which the old em-' 
broidered work is replaced by new leather. The 
old head and tail bands, technically very in- 
teresting, have been replaced by modern imita- 
tions, and considerable damage has been done in 
distorting the work left on the sides of the book. 
It would seem obvious that a canvas, velvet, or 
satin embroidered binding, if it really must be 
re-backed or repaired at all, should be mended 
with a material as nearly as possible of the same 
make and colour as that of the original covering ; 
but this has rarely been done, the large majority 
of such repairs being executed in leather. But 
in the case of such old bindings we must be 
grateful for small mercies, and feel thankful that 
even the sides are left in so many cases. It is 



CLASSIFICATION 5 

indeed surprising that we still possess as much 
as we do. If all our great collectors had been 
of the same mind as Henry Prince of Wales, 
the Right Hon. Thomas Grenville, or even King 
George iii., we should have been far worse off, as 
although several fine old bindings exist in their 
libraries, many which would now be priceless 
have been destroyed, only to be replaced by com- 
paratively modern bindings, sometimes the best 
of their kind, but often in bad taste. 

Division of Embroidered Books according 
to the designs upon them. 

The designs on embroidered books may be 
roughly divided into four classes — Heraldic, 
Figure, Floral, and Arabesque. 

The Heraldic designs always denote ownership, 
and are most frequently found on Royal books 
bound in velvet, rarely occurring on silk or satin, 
and never, as far as I have been able to ascertain, 
on canvas. The Figure designs may be sub- 
divided into three smaller classes, viz. : — 

I. Scriptural, e.g. representations of Solomon 
and the Queen of Sheba, Jacob wrest- 
ling with the Angel, David, etc. 
II. Symbolical, e.g. figures of Faith, Hope, 

Peace, Plenty, etc. 
III. Portraits, eg. of Charles i.. Queen Henri- 
etta Maria, Duke of Buckingham, etc. 



6 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

The Scriptural designs are most generally found 
on canvas-bound books ; the Symbolical figures, 
and Portraits, on satin, rarely on velvet. The 
Floral and Arabesque designs are most common 
on small and unimportant works bound in satin, 
but they occur now and then on both canvas and 
velvet books. The true arabesques have no 
animal or insect forms among them, the prophet 
Mohammed having forbidden his followers to 
imitate any living thing. 

It may further be noted that heraldic designs 
on embroidered books are early, having been 
made chiefly during the sixteenth century, and 
that the figure, floral, and arabesque designs most 
usually belong to the seventeenth century. There 
are, of course, exceptions to these divisions, not- 
ably in the case of the earliest existing embroi- 
dered book, which has figure designs on both sides, 
but also maintains its heraldic position, inasmuch 
as its edges are decorated with coats-of-arms. 

Naturally, again, it may be sometimes difficult 
to decide whether a design should be classed as 
heraldic or floral. Such a difficulty occurs as to 
the large Bible at Oxford bound in red velvet for 
Queen Elizabeth, and bearing a design of Tudor 
and York roses. I consider it heraldic, but it 
might, with no less appropriateness, be called 
floral. If it had belonged to any one not a member 
of the Royal family it would undoubtedly be 
properly counted as a floral specimen. Again, 



MATERIALS 7 

in many of the portrait bindings flowers and 
arabesques are introduced, but they are clearly 
subordinate, and the chief decorative motive of 
such designs must be looked for, and the work 
classed accordingly. Thus it is evident that the 
arrangement of the embroidered books by their 
designs cannot be too rigidly applied, although it 
should not be lost sight of altogether. 

Division of Embroidered Books according to the 
material on which they are worked. 

A more useful and accurate classification may 
however be found by help of the material on 
which the embroidered work is done, and this 
division is obvious and easy. With very few 
exceptions all embroidered books, ancient and 
modern, are worked on canvas, velvet, or satin, 
and while canvas was used continuously from 
the fourteenth century until the middle of the 
seventeenth century, velvet was most largely used 
during the Tudor period, and satin during that 
of the early Stuarts. 

Broadly speaking, the essential differences in 
the kind of work found upon these three materials 
follow the peculiarities of the materials them- 
selves. Canvas, in itself of no decorative value, 
is always completely covered with needlework. 
Velvet, beautiful even when alone, but difficult 
to work upon, usually has a large proportion of 



8 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

appliqud, laid, or couched work, in coloured silk 
or satin, upon it, showing always large spaces 
unworked upon, and such actual work as occurs 
directly on the velvet is always in thick guimp 
or gold cord. Satin, equally beautiful in its way, 
is also freely left unornamented in places ; the 
needlework directly upon it is often very fine and 
delicate in coloured floss silks, generally closely 
protected by thick raised frames or edges of 
metallic threads or fine gold or silver cords. 






Fig. I. Fig. 2. Fig. 3. 

Silken thread closely Silken thread loosely Strips of flat metal cut into 

wound round with wound round with shapes and kept down by 

strip of flat metal. strip of flat metal. small stitches at regular in- 

tervals. Called ' Lizzarding." 

By ' metallic ' threads, when they are not 
simply fine wires, I mean strands of silk 
closely (Fig. i) or loosely (Fig. 2) wound round 
with narrow coils of thin metal, mostly silver or 
silver gilt. The use of such threads, alone, or 
twisted into cords, is common on all styles of em- 
broidered books, and it is largely due to their use 
that pieces of work apparently of the greatest 
delicacy are really extremely durable — far more 



MATERIALS 9 

so than is generally supposed. Certainly if it 
had not been for the efficient protection of these 
little metal walls we should not possess, as we 
actually do, delicate-looking embroidered books, 
hundreds of years old, in almost as good con- 
dition, except in the matter of colour, as when 
they were originally made. 

Thin pieces of metal are sometimes used alone, 
caught down at regular intervals by small cross 
stitches ; this is, I believe, called ' Lizzarding ' 
(Fig. 3). Metal is also found in the form of 
'guimp,' in flattened spirals (Fig. 4), and also in 
the ' Purl,' or copper wire covered with silk 
(Fig. 5), so common on the later satin books 
(compare p. 46). 



Fig. 4. Fig. 5. 

Edging made with a piece of spiral Loop made of a short length 

wire hammered flat, appearing of Purl threaded, the ends 

like a series of small rings. drawn together. 

Spangles appear to have been introduced 
during the reign of Elizabeth, but they were 
never freely used on velvet, finding their proper 
place ultimately on the satin books of a later 
time. The spangles are generally kept in position 
either by a small section of purl (Fig. 6) or a 
seed pearl (Fig. 7), in both cases very efficaciously, 
so that the use of guimp or pearl was not only 
ornamental but served the same protective purpose 
as the bosses on a shield, or those so commonly 

B 



lo ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

found upon the sides of the stamped leather bind- 
ings of mediaeval books. 

<^ @ e 

Fig. 6. Fig. 7. Fig. 8. 

Spangle kept in place Spangle kept in place Binder's stamp for gold 

by a stitch through a by a stitch through a tooling, cut in imita- 

short piece of Purl. seed pearL tion of a spangle. 

It may be mentioned that the seventeenth- 
century Dutch binders, Magnus and Poncyn, 
both of Amsterdam, invented a new tool for 
gilding on leather bindings, used, of course, in 
combination with others. This was cut to imitate 
the small circular spangles of the embroidered 
books(Fig. 8), and the English and French finishers 
of a later period used the same device with excel- 
lent effect for filling up obtrusive spaces on the 
sides and backs of their decorative bindings. 
Thus it may be taken as an axiom that, for the 
proper working of an embroidered book, except it 
be tapestry-stitch or tent-stitch, on canvas, which 
is flat and strong of itself, there should invariably 
be a liberal use of metal threads, these being not 
only very decorative in themselves, but also pro- 
viding a valuable protection to the more delicate 
needlework at a lower level, and to the material 
of the ground itself. 

The earliest examples of embroidered bindings 
still existing are not by any means such as would 
lead to the inference that they were exceptional 
productions — made when the idea of the applica- 



FORWARDING n 

tion of needlework to the decoration of books was 
in its infancy. On the contrary, they are instances 
of very skilled workmanship, so that it is probable 
that the art was practised at an earlier date 
than we now have recorded. There are, indeed, 
frequent notes in ' Wardrobe Accounts ' and else- 
where of books bound in velvet and satin at a 
date anterior to any now existing, but there is no 
mention of embroidered work upon them. 

The Forwarding of Embroidered Books. 

The processes used in the binding of em- 
broidered books are the same as in the case of 
leather-bound books ; but there is one invariable 
peculiarity — the bands upon which the different 
sections of the paper are sewn are never in relief, 
so that it was always possible to paste down a 
piece of material easily along the back without 
having to allow for the projecting bands so 
familiar on leather bindings (Fig. 9). The backs, 
moreover, are only rounded very slightly, if at all. 

This flatness has been attained on the earlier 
books either by sewing on flat bands, thin strips 
of leather or vellum (Fig. 10), or by flattening 
the usual hempen bands as much as they will 
bear by the hammer, and afterwards filling up 
the intermediate spaces with padding of some 
suitable material, linen or thin leather. 

In several instances the difficulty of flatten- 
ing the bands has been solved, in sixteenth- and 



12 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

seventeenth-century embroidered books, in a way 
which cannot be too strongly condemned from a 
constructive point of view, although it has served 
its immediate purpose admirably. 

A small trench has been cut with a sharp knife 
for each band, deep enough to sink it to the general 
level of the inner edges of the sections (Fig. 1 1). 




Fig. 9. 

Back of book sewn on 
raised bands. 



Fig. 10. 

Band of flat vellum some- 
times found on old booi<s 
with flat backs. 



Fig. II. 

Typical appearance of a 
book, before it is sewn, 
with small trenches cut 
in the back in which the 
bands are to be laid ; a 
bad method, but often 
used to produce a flat 
back. 



This cutting of the back to 
make room for the bands was 
afterwards more easily effected 
by means of a saw — as it is done now — and in 
the eighteenth century was especially used by the 
French binder Derome le Jeune, who is usually 
made responsible for its invention. 

The existence of the sunken bands on early 
embroidered books probably marks the beginning 



FORWARDING 



13 



of this vicious system, but here there is some 
excuse for it, whereas in the case of ordinary 
leather-bound books there is none, except from 
the commercial standpoint. 

In the case of vellum books there may be 
some reason for using the ' sawn in ' bands, as it 
is certainly difficult to get vellum to fit comfort- 
ably over raised bands, although numerous early 
instances exist in which it has been successfully 
done. Again in the case of ' hollow backs,' the 
bands are kept flat with some reason. But for 
all valuable or finely bound books the system of 
' sawing in ' cannot be too strongly condemned. 

' Sawing in ' can be detected by looking at the 
threads in the centre of any section of a bound 
book from the inside. It will show as a small hole 
with a piece of hemp or leather lying transversely 
across it, under which the thread passes (Fig. 12). 




Fig. 12. 

Typical appearance of the sewing of a book with ' sawn in ' bands, as 
seen Irom the inside of each section. The bands just visible. 



14 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

In the case of a properly sewn book, the 
bands themselves cannot be seen at all from the 
inside of the sections, unless, indeed, the book 
is damaged (Fig. 13). If the covering of the back 




Fig. 13. 

Typical appearance of the sewing of a book on raised bands, as seen from the 
inside of each section. The bands invisible. Known as ' flexible." 

is off, or even loose, the method of sewing that 
has been used can very easily be seen ; and if it 
appears that the bands are sunk in a small trench, 
that is the form of sewing that is called ' sawn 
in,' or analogous to it. 

Although in the embroidered books the bands 
of the backs do not show on the surface, it is 
common enough to find the lines they probably 
follow indicated in the work on the back, which 
is divided into panels by as many transverse 
lines, braid or cord, as there are bands under- 
neath them. But in some cases the designer has 
used the back as one long panel, and decorated 



FORWARDING 15 

it accordingly as one space. The headbands in 
some of the earlier books were sewn at the same 
time as the other bands on the sewing-press and 
drawn in to the boards, but in most early bind- 
ings the ravaging repairer has been at work and 
made it impossible to know for certain what 
was the state of the headbands before the book 
came into his hands. Most of the existing head- 
bands are made by hand in the usual way, with 
the ends simply cut off, not indeed a very satis- 
factory finish. It would be better if these ends 
were somehow drawn in to the leather of the 
back, as for instance they still often are on thin 
vellum books. 

The great majority of embroidered books, both 
large and small, have had ties of silk on their 
front edges — generally two, but sometimes only 
one, which wraps round. These ties have gener- 
ally worn away from the outer side of the boards, 
but their ends can usually be traced (if the book 
has not been repaired) in the inner side, covered 
only by a thin piece of paper ; and if this paper 
is loose, as often happens, and the ends show 
well, it may often be advisable not to paste it 
down again at that particular place. 

The backs of old embroidered books are by 
far the weakest parts about them. If they exist 
at all in their old forms they are always much 
worn, and the work upon them so much damaged 
that it is often difficult to make out even the 



i6 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

general character of the design, to say nothing of 
the details of the workmanship. 

The edges of the leaves of books bound in 
England in embroidered bindings are always 
ornamentally treated, sometimes simply gilded, 
often further adorned with ' gauffred ' work, that 
is to say, small patterns impressed on the gold, 
and sometimes beautifully decorated with elabor- 
ate designs having colour in parts as well. The 
earliest English ornamentation of this kind in 
colour is found on the Felbrigge Psalter and on 
some of the books embroidered for Henry vm., 
one of which is richly painted on the fore edges 
with heraldic designs, and another with a motto 
written in gold on a delicately coloured ground. 

Cases for Embroidered Books. 

Common though the small satin embroidered 
books must have been in England during the 
earlier part of the seventeenth century, it is still 
certain that the finer specimens were highly prized, 
and beautifully worked bags were often made for 
their protection. These bags are always of canvas, 
and most of them are decorated in the same way, 
the backgrounds of silver thread with a design 
in tapestry- or tent-stitch, and having ornamental 
strings and tassels. To describe one of these is 
almost io describe all. The best preserved speci- 
men I know belongs to a little satin embroidered 




I— Embroidered Bag for Psal 



ms. 



London, i6;;. 



EMBROIDERED BOOK-BAGS 17 

copy of the Psalms, printed in London in 1633, and 
measures 5 inches long by 4 inches in depth. 

The same design is repeated on each side. A 
parrot on a small grass-plot is in the middle of 
the lower edge. Behind the bird grow two curv- 
ing stems of thick gold braid, each curve contain- 
ing a beautifully- worked flower or fruit. In the 
centre is a carnation, and round it are arranged 
consecutively a bunch of grapes, a pansy, a honey- 
suckle, and a double rose, green leaves occurring 
at intervals. From the lower edge depend three 
ornamental tassels of silver loops, with small 
acorns in silver and coloured silks, one from the 
centre and one from each corner. 

The top edge has two draw-strings of gold 
and red braid, each ending in an ornamental oval 
acorn of silver thread and coloured silks, probably 
worked on canvas over a wooden core, ending in 
a tassel similar to those on the lower edge. 

A long loop of gold and silver braid serves as 
a handle, or means of attachment to a belt, and is 
fixed at each side near a strong double loop of 
silver thread, used when pulling the bag open. 
The lining is of pink silk. This particular bag is 
perfect in colour as well as condition, but usually 
the silver has turned black, or nearly so. Besides 
these very ornamental bags, others of quite simple 
workmanship are occasionally found, worked in 
outline with coloured silks. As well as the 
embroidered bags, certain rectangular cloths 

c 



i8 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

variously ornamented, some richly, some plainly, 
were made and used for the protection of em- 
broidered books, when being read. These, like 
the bags, only seem to have been used during the 
seventeenth century. A particularly fine example 
belongs to a New Testament bound in em- 
broidered satin in 1640. It is of fine linen, 
measuring 16-^ by 9^ inches, and is beautifully 
embroidered in a floral design, with thick stalks 
of gold braid arranged in curves and bearing 
conventional flowers and leaves, all worked in 
needle-point lace with coloured silks in a wonder- 
fully skilful manner. 

In the centre is a double red rose with separate 
petals, and among the other flowers are corn- 
flowers, honeysuckles, carnations, strawberries, 
and several leaves, all worked in the same way, 
and appliquds at their edges. Some, however, of 
the larger leaves and petals are ornamentally 
fastened down to the linen by small coloured 
stitches arranged in lines or patterns over their 
surfaces, as well as by the edge stitches. There 
are several spangles scattered about in the spaces 
on the linen, and the edge is bound with green 
silk and gold. On the book itself to which this 
cover belongs there is a good deal of the same 
needle-point work, probably executed by the same 
hand ; but the cover is a finer piece altogether 
than the book, — in fact it is the finest example of 
such work I have ever seen. 




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FOREIGN SPECIMENS 19 

Abroad there have been made at various 
times embroidered bindings for books, but in no 
country except England has there been any 
regular production of them. I have come across 
a few cases in England of foreign work, the 
most important of which I will shortly describe. 
In the British Museum is an interesting specimen 
bound in red satin, and embroidered with the 
arms of Felice Peretti, Cardinal de Montalt, who 
was afterwards Pope Sixtus v.; the coat-of-arms 
has a little coloured silk upon it, but the border 
and the cardinal's hat with tassels are all outlined 
in gold cord. The work is of an elementary 
character. The book itself is a beautiful illumin- 
ated vellum copy of Fichet's Rhetoric, printed 
in Paris in 147 1, and presented to the then Pope, 
Sixtus IV. In the same collection are a few more 
instances of Italian embroidered bindings, always 
heraldic in their main designs, the workmanship 
not being of any particular excellence or character. 
Perhaps altogether the most interesting Italian 
work of this kind was done on books bound for 
Cardinal York, several of which still remain, 
embroidered with his coat-of-arms, one of them 
being now in the Royal Library at Windsor. 
Although the actual workmanship on these books 
is foreign, we may perhaps claim them as having 
been suggested or made by the order of the 
English Prince himself, inheriting the liking for 
embroidered books from his Stuart ancestors. 



20 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

French embroidered books are very rare, and 
I do not know of any examples in England. 
Two interesting specimens, at least, are in the 
Bibliotheque Nationale, and are described and 
figured in Bouchot's work on the artistic bindings 
in that library. The earlier is on a book of 
prayers of the fifteenth century, bound in canvas, 
and worked with ' tapisserie de sole au petit 
point,' or as I should call it, tent-, or tapestry-, 
stitch. It represents the Crucifixion and a saint, 
but M. Bouchot remarks of it, ' La composition 
est grossi^re et les figures des plus rudimentaires.' 

The other instance occurs on a sixteenth- 
century manuscript, ' Les Gestes de Blanche de 
Castille.' It is bound in black velvet, much 
worn, and ornamented with appliqud embroideries 
in coloured silks, in shading stitch, probably done 
on fine linen. The design on the upper cover 
shows the author of the book, Etienne le Blanc, 
in the left-hand corner, kneeling at the feet of 
Louise de Savoie, Regent of France, to whom the 
book is dedicated. Near her is a fountain into 
which an antlered stag is jumping, pursued by 
three hounds. 

The Dutch, in the numerous excellent styles 
of bindings they have so freely imitated from 
other nations, have not failed to include the 
English embroidered books. In the South 
Kensington Museum is a charming specimen of 
their work on satin, finely worked in coloured 



HINTS FOR BROIDERERS 21 

silks with small masses of pearls in a rather too 
elaborate design of flowers and animals. In the 
British Museum, besides other instances of Dutch 
needlework, there is a very handsome volume 
of the Acta Synodalis Nationalis Dordrechti 
habit CB, printed at Leyden in 1620, and bound in 
crimson velvet. It has the royal coat-of-arms of 
England within the Garter, with crest, supporters, 
and motto, all worked in various kinds of gold 
thread ; in the corners are sprays of roses and 
thistles alternately, and above and below the coat 
are the crowned initials J. R., all worked in gold 
thread. 

Hints for Modern Broiderers. 

Many book-covers have been embroidered 
during the last few years in England by ladies 
working on their own account, or by some of the 
students at one or other of the many excellent 
centres now existing for the study and practice of 
the fascinating art of bookbinding. 

Although a large proportion of modern work 
of this kind has been only copied from older 
work, I see no reason why original designs should 
not be freely and successfully invented. But I 
think that the ancient work may be advantage- 
ously studied and carefully copied as far as choice 
of threads and manner of working them goes. 
The workers of our old embroidered books were 



22 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

people of great skill and large experience, and from 
a long and careful examination of much of their 
work, I am impressed with the conviction that they 
worked on definite principles. If I allude briefly 
to some of these I may perhaps give intending 
workwomen a hint or two as to some minor 
points which may assist their work to show to 
the best advantage when in situ, and also in- 
sure, as far as possible, that it will not be unduly 
damaged during the operation of fixing to the 
back and boards of the book for which it is 
intended. 

(i) Before the operation of fixing on the book 
is begun, it will always be found best to mount 
the embroidered work on a backing of strong fine 
linen. The stage at which it is best to add the 
linen will vary according to the kind of work it 
is to strengthen. In the case of canvas it will 
only be necessary to tack it on quite at the last ; 
with velvet a backing from the first may be used 
with advantage, all the stitches being taken 
through both materials. As to satin, it will 
be best to do all the very fine work, if any, 
in coloured silks first, and when the stronger 
work in cord or braid comes on, the linen may 
be then added. The value of the linen is twofold : 
it strengthens the entire work and protects the 
finer material from the paste with which it is 
ultimately fastened on to the book. 

(2) A book must be sewn, the edges cut, and 



HINTS FOR BROIDERERS 22, 

the boards fixed, before the sizes of the sides 
and back can be accurately measured. These 
sizes must be given to the designer most care- 
fully, as a very small difference between the 
real size and the embroidered size will entirely 
spoil the finished effect, however fine the details 
of the workmanship may be. When the exact 
size is known the designer will fill the spaces at 
his disposal according to his taste and skill, 
making his sketches on paper, and, when these are 
complete, transferring the outlines to the material 
on which the work is to be done. If the designer 
is also to be the worker it is artistically right, 
and he, or she, will put in the proper stitches 
as the work progresses ; but if another person is 
to execute the needlework it will be best that 
very detailed description of all the threads and 
stitches that are to be used should be given, as 
every designer of an embroidery design intends 
it to be carried out in a particular way, and 
unless this way is followed, the design does not 
have full justice done to it. 

(3) In the working itself the greatest care must 
be taken, especially as to two points : the first and 
perhaps the more important, because the more 
difficult to remedy, is that the needlework on the 
tmdey side of the material must be as small and 
flat as possible, and all knots, lumps, or irregu- 
larities here, if they cannot be avoided or safely 
cut off, had best be brought to the upper side and 



24 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

worked over. With satin, especially, attention 
to this point is most necessary, as unless the plain 
spaces lie quite flat, which they are very apt not 
to do, the proper appearance of the finished work 
is spoiled, and however good it may be in all 
other points, can never be considered first-rate. 

The second pitfall to avoid is any pulling or 
straining of the material during the operation of 
embroidering it. Success in avoiding this de- 
pends primarily upon the various threads being 
drawn at each stitch to the proper tension, so that 
it may just have the proper pull to keep it in its 
place and no more — and although a stitch too 
loose is bad enough, one too tight is infinitely 
worse. 

(4) The preponderance of appliqud work, and 
raised work in metal guimps on embroidered 
books, especially on velvet, is easily accounted for 
when the principles they illustrate are understood, 
the truth being that in both these operations the 
maximum of surface effect is produced with the 
minimum of under work. 

If the piece appliqud is not very large, a series 
of small stitches along all the edges is generally 
enough to keep it firm ; such edge stitches are in 
most cases afterwards masked by a gold cord laid 
over them. If, however, the applique piece is 
large it will be necessary to fix it as well with 
some supplementary stitches through the central 
portions. These stitches will generally be so 



THE BOOKS ILLUSTRATED 25 

managed that they fit in with, or under, some 
of the ornamental work ; at the same time, if 
necessary, they may be symmetrically arranged 
so as to become themselves of a decorative 
character. 

The Embroidered Books here illustrated. 

For the purposes of illustration I have chosen 
the most typical specimens possible from such 
collections as I have had access to. The chief 
collections in England are, undoubtedly, those at 
the British Museum and at the Bodleian Library 
at Oxford. The collection at the British Museum 
is especially rich, the earlier and finer specimens 
almost invariably having formed part of the old 
Royal Library of England given by George 11. to 
the Museum in 1757. 

The more recent specimens have been acquired 
either by purchase or donation, but as there has 
been no special intention at any time to collect 
these bindings, it is remarkable that such a number 
of them exist in our National Library. The 
Bodleian is rich in a few fine specimens only, and 
most of these are exhibited. My illustrations are 
made from photographs from the books themselves 
in all instances ; to show them properly, however, all 
should be in colour, and it should not be forgotten 
that an embroidered book represented only by a 
half-tint print, however good, inevitably loses its 



26 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

greatest charm. However, if the hal'f-tint is un- 
worthy, the colour prints are distinctly flattering. 
I think that almost any old book well reproduced 
in colour gains in appearance, and in two of my 
colour plates I have actually restored some parts. 
In the beautiful fourteenth century psalter, sup- 
posed to have been worked by Anne de Felbrigge, 
I have made the colours purposely much clearer 
than they are at present. If it were possible to 
clean this volume, the colours would show very 
nearly as they do on my plate ; but, actually, they 
are all much darker and more indistinct, being in 
fact overlaid with the accumulated dirt of centuries. 
The other instance where I have added more than 
at present exists on the original is the green velvet 
book which belonged to Queen Elizabeth, and 
forms my frontispiece. Here I have put in the 
missing pearls, each of which has left its little 
impression on the velvet, so nothing is added for 
which there is not the fullest authority. More- 
over, some of the gold cord is gone on each of the 
three volumes of this work, but I have put it in 
its proper place for the purpose of illustration. 
The other plates are not in any way materially 
altered, but it may be allowed that the colour 
plates show their originals at their best. 

The books illustrated are selected out of a 
large number, and I think it may fairly be con- 
sidered that the most favourable typical specimens 
now left in England are shown. It may well be 



THE BOOKS ILLUSTRATED 27 

that a few finer instances than I have been able 
to find may still be discovered hidden away in 
private collections, but it is now so rarely that a 
really fine ancient embroidered book comes into 
the sale-room, that we may safely conclude the 
best of them are already safely housed in one or 
other of our great national collections. Where 
not otherwise stated, the specimens described are 
in the British Museum. 

In the following detailed descriptions I have 
used the words ' sides ' and ' boards ' to mean the 
same thing, and the measurements refer to the 
size of the boards themselves, not including the 
back. These measurements must be taken as ap- 
proximate only, as from wear and other causes 
the actual sizes would only be truly given by the 
use of small fractions of inches. 




CHAPTER II 

BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 

iNGLISH books bound in em- 
broidered canvas range over a 
period of about two hundred and 
fifty years, the earliest known 
specimen dating from the four- 
teenth century, and instances of 
the work occurring with some frequency from this 
time until the middle of the seventeenth century. 
The majority of these bindings are worked in 
tapestry-stitch, or tent-stitch, in designs illustrat- 
ing Scriptural subjects in differently coloured 
threads. 

Very often the outlines of these designs are 
marked by gold threads and cords, of various 
kinds, and parts of the work are also frequently 
enriched with further work upon them in metal 
threads. Spangles are very rarely found on 
canvas-bound books. The backgrounds of several 
of the later specimens are worked in silver threads, 
sometimes in chain-stitch and sometimes in 
tapestry-stitch ; others again have the ground- 




3 — The Felbrigge Psalter. 13th-century MS. 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 29 

work of silver threads laid along the surface of 
the canvas and caught down at regular intervals 
by small stitches — this kind of work is called 'laid' 
or ' couched ' work. Books bound with this metal 
ground have always strong work superimposed, 
usually executed in metal strips, cords, and thread. 
The silver is now generally oxidised and much 
darkened, but when new these bindings must have 
been very brilliant. 

The Felbrigge Psalter. 13th-century ms. 
Probably bound in the 14th century. 

The earliest example of an embroidered 
book in existence is, I believe, the manuscript 
English Psalter written in the thirteenth century, 
which afterwards belonged to Anne, daughter 
of Sir Simon de Felbrigge, K.G., standard- 
bearer to Richard 11. Anne de Felbrigge was 
a nun in the convent of Minoresses at Bruis- 
yard in Suffolk, during the latter half of the 
fourteenth century, and it is quite likely that she 
herself worked the cover — such work having 
probably been largely done in monasteries and 
convents during the middle ages. 

On the upper side is a very charming design 
of the Annunciation, and, on the und-er, another of 
the Crucifixion, each measuring yf by 5f inches. 
In both cases the ground is worked with fine gold 
threads ' couched ' in a zigzag pattern, the rest of 



30 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

the work being very finely executed in split-stitch 
by the use of which apparently continuous lines 
can be made, each successive stitch beginning a 
little within that immediately preceding it — the 
effect in some places being that of a very fine 
chain-stitch. The lines of this work do not in 
any way follow the meshes of the linen or canvas, 
as is mostly the case with book-work upon such 
material, but they curve freely according to the 
lines and folds of the design. It will be re- 
cognised I think by art workwomen skilled in 
this kind of small embroidery, that the methods 
used for ornamenting the canvas binding of this 
book are the most artistic of any of the various 
means employed for a similar purpose, and I 
know of no other instance which for appropriate- 
ness of workmanship, or charm of design, can 
compare with this, the earliest of all. 

The figure of the Virgin Mary, on the upper 
side, is dressed in a pale red robe, with an upper 
garment or cloak of blue with a gold border. On 
her head is a white head-dress, and round it a 
yellow halo ; just above is a white dove flying 
downwards, its head having a small red nimbus 
or cloud round it. The Virgin holds a red book 
in her hand. The figure of the angel is winged, 
and wears an under robe of blue with an upper 
garment of yellow ; round his head he has a green 
and yellow nimbus, his wings are crimson and 
white. 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 31 

Between these two figures is a large yellow 
vase, banded with blue and red ; out of it grows a 
tall lily, with a crown of three red blossoms. 

The drawing of both of the figures is good, 
the attitudes and the management of the folds of 
the drapery being excellently rendered, and the 
execution of the technical part is in no way 
inferior to the design. 

On the lower side, on a groundwork of gold 
similar to that on the upper cover, is a design 
of the Crucifixion. Our Saviour wears a red 
garment round the loins, and round his head is 
a red and yellow nimbus, his feet being crossed 
in a manner often seen in illuminations in ancient 
manuscripts. 

The cross is yellow with a green edge, the 
foot widening out into a triple arch, within which 
is a small angel kneeling in the attitude of 
prayer. On the right of the cross is a figure 
of the Virgin Mary, in robes of pale blue and 
yellow, with a white head-dress and green and 
yellow nimbus. On the left is another figure, 
probably representing St. John, dressed in robes 
of red and blue, and having a nimbus round his 
head of concentric rings of red and yellow. This 
figure is unfortunately in very bad condition. 
The edges of the leaves of the book are painted 
with heraldic bearings in diamond-shaped spaces, 
that of the Felbrigge family ' Gules, a lion 
rampant, or' alternately with another 'azure, a 



32 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

fleur-de-lys, or.' The embroidered sides have 
been badly damaged by time and probably more 
so by repair. The book has been rebound in 
leather, the old embroidered back quite done 
away with, and the worked sides pulled away 
from their original boards and ruinously flattened 
out on the new ones. After the Felbrigge Psalter 
no other embroidered binding has been preserved 
till we come to one dating about 1536, which is 
in satin, and will be described under that head. 

The Miroir or Glasse of the Synneftil Soul. 
MS. by the Princess Elizabeth. 1544. 

The Princess Elizabeth, afterwards Queen, in 
her eleventh year, copied out in her own hand- 
writing the Miroir or Glasse of the Synnefiil Soul. 
She says it is translated ' out of frenche ryme into 
english prose, joyning the sentences together as 
well as the capacitie of my symple witte and 
small lerning coulde extende themselves.' It is 
also most prettily dedicated: 'From Assherige, the 
last daye of the yeare of our Lord God 1544 . . . 
To our most noble and vertuous Quene Katherin, 
Elizabeth her humble daughter wisheth perpetuall 
felicitie and everlasting joye.' 

The book is now one of the great treasures 
of the Bodleian Library ; it is bound in canvas, 
measures about 7 by 5 inches, and was embroidered 
in all probability by the hands of the Princess 



1 




4~The Miroir or Glasse of the Synneful Soul, 
MS. by the Princess Elizabeth. 1544. 




^—Prayers of Queen Katherine Parr. 
MS. bv the Princess Elizabeth. 1545. 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 33 

herself. The Countess of Wilton in her book on 
the art of needlework says that 'Elizabeth was an 
accomplished needlewoman,' and that 'in her time 
embroidery was much thought of.' The Rev. W. 
Dunn Macray in his Annals of the Bodleian 
Library considers this binding to be one of 
* Elizabeth's bibliopegic achievements.' 

The design is the same upon both sides. The 
ground is all worked over in a large kind of 
tapestry-stitch in thick pale blue silk, very evenly 
and well done, so well that it has been considered 
more than once to be a piece of woven material. 
On this is a cleverly designed interlacing scroll- 
work of gold and silver braid, in the centre of 
which are the joined initials K.P. 

In each corner is a heartsease worked in thick 
coloured silks, purple and yellow, interwoven 
with fine gold threads, and a small green leaflet 
between each of the petals. The back is very 
much worn, but it probably had small flowers 
embroidered upon it. 

Prayers of Queen Katherine Parr. ms. by the 
Princess Elizabeth. 1545. 

Another manuscript beautifully written by the 
Princess Elizabeth about a year later is now at 
the British Museum. It is on vellum, and con- 
tains prayers or meditations, composed originally 
by Queen Katherine Parr in English, and trans- 

E 



34 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

lated by the Princess into Latin, French, and 
Italian. The title as given in the book reads, 
' Precationes ... ex piis scriptoribus per nobiliss. 
et pientiss. D. Catharinam Anglie, Francie, 
Hibernieq. reginam coUecte, et per D. Eliza- 
betam ex anglico converse.' It is, moreover, 
dedicated to Henry viii., the wording being, 
' Iliustrissimo Henrico octavo, Anglie, Francie, 
Hibernieq. regi,' etc., and dated Hertford, 20th 
December 1545. 

It is bound in canvas, and measures 5J by 
4 inches, the groundwork being broadly worked 
in tapestry-stitch, or some stitch analogous to it, 
in red silk, resembling in method the work on the 
ground of The Miroir of the Syniieful Soul 
already described. On this, in the centre of each 
side, is a large monogram worked in blue silk, 
interwoven with silver thread, containing the 
letters K, probably standing for Katherine, A, 
F, H, and R, possibly meaning 'Anglie, Francie, 
Hibernieque, Reginae,' but like most monograms 
this one can doubtless be otherwise interpreted. 
Above and below the monogram are smaller H's, 
worked in red silk, interwoven with gold thread. 
In each corner is a heartsease of yellow and purple 
silk, interwoven with gold thread, and having 
small green leaves between each of the petals. 
The work which was once on the back is now so 
worn that it cannot be traced sufficiently to tell 
what it originally was. The designs of these 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 35 

two volumes, credited to the Princess Elizabeth, 
resemble each other to some extent; they both 
have a monogram in the centre, they both have 
heartsease in the corners and groundwork of a 
like character. They are, as far as worknianship 
goes, still more alike, similar thick silk is used 
for the ground, and threads and braids of a 
thick nature, with metal interwoven, are used 
on both for the ornamental work. Speaking of 
this British Museum book, the Countess of Wilton 
says, * there is little doubt that Elizabeth's own 
needle wrought the ornaments thereon.' 

Books embroidered by the Princess Elizabeth. 

It cannot be said that there is any actual 
authority for saying that the two covers just 
described are really the work of Elizabeth's own 
hand, although she is known to have been fond 
of embroidery, it being recorded that she made and 
embroidered a shirt for her brother Edward when 
she was six. There is little doubt, however, that the 
same designer and the same workwoman worked 
both these covers, and the technique, as well as the 
design, are peculiar for the time in which they were 
done. Canvas bindings were rare — most of the 
embroidered work on books of that period were 
splendid works on velvet — so that if these two 
manuscripts had been 'given out' to be bound 
in embroidered covers we should have expected 



36 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

to find them in rich velvet, like Brion's Holy 
Land, or Christopherson's Historia Ecclesiastica, 
instead of a very elementary braid work. With- 
out attaching too much importance to the various 
statements concerning their royal origin, I am 
inclined to think that there is no impossibility, 
or even improbability, in the supposition that 
the Princess designed and worked them herself, 
thereby adding to her exquisite manuscript the 
further charm of her clever needle. The idea of 
both writing and embroidering such valued pre- 
sents as these two books must have been is likely 
to have strongly appealed to an affectionate and 
humble daughter, and there is an artistic com- 
pleteness in the idea which, I think, tells strongly 
in its favour. 

Probably enough no proof of their having been 
worked by Elizabeth will now ever be forthcoming, 
but it is equally unlikely that any positive dis- 
proof will be found. 

The two ' Elizabeth ' books stand alone — there 
are no others resembling them ; but the next kind 
of embroidered work I shall describe is one which 
includes a large number of books, generally small 
in size, and usually copies of the Bible or the 
Psalms. The canvas in these cases is embroidered 
all over in small tapestry-stitch, the design being 
shown by means of the different colours of the 
silks used. The work being all flat it is very 
strong, and often books bound in this way are 




6 — Christian Prayers. London, 1581. 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS z^ 

in a marvellous state of preservation. The most 
interesting designs are those which represent 
Scriptural scenes. Some of these are very curious 
and almost grotesque, but there is much excuse 
for this. To work a face any way in embroidery 
is troublesome enough, but to work it on a small 
scale in tent-stitch is especially dijfficult, the result 
being somewhat similar in effect to that of a glass 
or marble mosaic, each little stitch being nearly 
square and of an uniform colour. The designers 
of these embroideries do not appear to have had 
a very fertile imagination, as again and again the 
same subject is represented. Perhaps the most 
favourite of all is Jacob wrestling with the angel ; 
of figure subjects ' Faith and Hope ' are the 
most frequently met with, but ' Peace and Plenty' 
are also common enough. 

Christian Prayers. London, 1581. 

A Book of Christian Prayers with illustrated 
borders, printed in London in 1 581, is bound in 
coarse canvas worked in tapestry-stitch in colours, 
and measures 7 by 5 inches. The same design is 
on each side — a kind of flower-basket in two 
stories, out of the lower part of which, rectangular 
in shape, grow two branches, one with lilies and 
another with white flowers, and out of the upper, 
oval in shape, rise two sprays of roses, one white 
the other red. 



38 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

In the lower corners are a large lily, a blue 
flower, and a large double-rose spray. All the 
design is outlined with silver cord or thread, and 
the veinings of the leaves are indicated in the 
same way. There are remains of two green velvet 
ties on the front edges of each of the boards. 
The back is not divided into panels, but has a 
design upon it of the letters E and S repeated 
five times. The edges are gilt and gauffred. 

Psalms and ConiDton Praier. London, 1606-']. 

During the seventeenth century little 'double' 
books were rather favourite forms for Common 
Prayer and Psalms especially. These curious 
bindings open opposite ways and have two backs, 
two ornamental boards, and one unornamented 
board enclosed between the two books, which are 
always of the same size. 

There are several instances whtre embroidered 
books have been bound in this way, the earliest 
I know being a copy of the Psalms and Common 
Prayer, printed in 1606-7. 

This is bound in canvas, and measures 3J 
by 2 inches, each side having the same design 
embroidered on each of the ornamented sides 
and backs. The flowers and leaves are worked 
in long straight stitches in coloured silks, out- 
lined with silver twist. A large pansy plant 
occupies the place of honour, growing out of a 




7 — Psalms and Common Praier. London, 1606. 




CI 



O 

C 
O 



u 

CU 

oJ 
JO 

1 

CO 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 39 

small green mound, from which also spring two 
short plants with five-petalled yellow flowers. 
The main stems and ribs of the leaves are made 
with strong silver twist. Round about the central 
spray are several coloured buds. On the backs 
are four panels, each containing a small four- 
petalled flower. The ground is worked all over 
with silver thread irregularly stitched, and the 
edges are bound with a broad silver thread. 
There was originally one ribbon to twist round 
both books and keep them together, but it is 
now quite gone. The edges are gilt, gauffred, 
and slightly coloured. 

Bible, etc. London, 161 2. 

A copy of the Bible, with the Psalms, printed 
in London in 161 2, and measuring 6f by 4^ 
inches, is bound in fine canvas, and bears upon it 
designs embroidered in coloured silks in tapestry- 
stitch. 

On the upper side is King Solomon seated in 
an elaborate throne on a dais, all outlined with 
gold cord. He wears a golden crown and a dress 
which more nearly approaches the style worn at 
the date of the production of the book than that 
which was probably worn by Solomon himself. 
Before the King kneels a figure, no doubt in- 
tended for the Queen of Sheba, in a red and 
orange robe of a curious fashion. She holds out 



40 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

two white and red roses to the King, who bends 
to take them. The ground is patterned in green 
and blue diamonds. The distant landscape shows 
a castle with turrets, trees, a tower, a house, and 
a sun with rays. The groundwork on both sides 
and the back is worked in silver thread. 

The lower side has in the centre Jacob wrest- 
ling with the angel. Jacob has a beard and a blue 
cloak ; his staff lies on the ground. The angel 
wears a red flowing robe, and his wings are many- 
coloured, and enriched with various threads and 
spirals of gold. The landscape is elaborate. In 
the foreground is a river with a bridge of planks, 
a gabled cottage, hospitably smoking from its 
chimneys, a red lily, and a tree. In the middle 
distance is a castle with tower and flag, and 
on the horizon are a windmill, a castle with two 
towers, and some trees, above all a red cloud. 
The back is divided into six panels, on each of 
which is a different design in coloured silks. 
These designs are small, and although they are 
in perfectly good condition, the subjects repre- 
sented are doubtful. The upper and lower panels 
seem to represent only castles with towers. Then 
apparently come Jonah and the whale, the crea- 
tion, the temple, and the deluge with the ark, 
but it is quite possible that other interpretations 
might be made. There are remains of two red 
silk ties on the front edges of each board, and 
the edges of the leaves are gilded simply. 







c 
o 

5 






p 
>> 

C/! 

c 
o 

r- 

CO 



On 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 41 

Sermons by Samttel IVard. London, 1626-7. 

Mr. Yates Thompson has kindly allowed me 
to describe and illustrate an embroidered book 
belonging to him, bound in canvas, and measuring 
5f by 4i inches. It is a collection of sermons 
preached by 'Samuel Ward, Bachelour of Divinity,' 
and printed in London, 1626-7, ^he binding being 
probably of about the latter date. On the upper 
cover is a lady in a blue dress, seated, and holding 
a hawk on her left wrist, and a branch with apples 
in her right. Round her are scattered flower 
sprays, honeysuckle, foxglove, a stalk with two 
large pears, a cluster of grapes, a twig with a 
butterfly upon it, and a wild-rose spray. The 
lady, the petals of the flowers, and the leaves are 
all worked in tapestry-stitch ; the bird and the 
lady's hair in long straight stitches ; the stalks, 
fruits, and grasses are worked in variously 
coloured silk threads, thickly and strongly bound 
round with very fine silver wire. The lady has a 
coif, cuff, and belt of short pieces of silver and 
gold guimp arranged like a plait. 

The under side shows a seated lady in a green 
dress, playing a lute left-handed. This most un- 
usual position is probably not really intentional, 
but the drawing has accidentally been reversed. 
She is surrounded, like her companion with the 
hawk, by flower sprays, a thistle, cornflower, 
strawberries, a rose, lily, bluebell, and small 



42 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

bunch of grapes, making a kind of arbour, with 
a wreath of red cloud at the top. The lady, the 
petals of the flowers, and the leaves are worked 
in fine tapestry-stitch ; the stalks and fruits in 
coloured silks, mixed with silver wire. The lady 
has a coif and a cuff of silver guimp arranged in 
the same way as that on the other side. 

The back is divided into four panels by silver 
guimp, each containing a flower worked in tapestry- 
stitch, a blue flower, a wild rose, a pansy, and a 
thistle. The ground of the whole is loosely 
overcast with silver thread, the constructive lines 
of the book being marked by rows of silver guimp 
arranged in small arches. The edges are bound 
by a strong silver braid. The head and tail 
bands are worked in silver thread — an unusual 
method — and the edges are gilt and gauffred. 

There are two ties on each board of striped silk, 
much frayed and worn, but the embroidered work 
itself is in excellent condition, and very strong. 

New Testame?it, etc. London, 1625-35. 

A small copy of the New Testament, printed 
in London in 1625, bound together with the 
Psalms, 1635, is covered with canvas, all worked 
in tapestry-stitch, and measures 4^ by 3 inches. 

On the upper cover is a full-length figure of 
Hope, with dark hair, dressed in a red dress with 
large falling collar, having a blue flower at the 




CO 

I 



O 

o 






O 



T. 






BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 43 

point. In her left hand she holds an anchor. In 
the distant background is a cottage and a gibbet 
on a hill, the sun with rays just appearing under 
a cloud. On the hilly foreground is a red lily, 
and further afield a caterpillar and a strawberry 
plant. On the lower cover is a full-length figure 
of Faith, with fair hair, dressed in a blue dress 
with large falling collar, having a red flower at 
the point. In her left hand she holds an open 
book with the word ' Faith ' written across it. 
On the hilly foreground is a large red tulip and a 
plant with red blooms, further afield are a pear- 
tree and two caterpillars. 

On the back are four panels, containing re- 
spectively a bird, a blue flower, a squirrel, and a 
red flower. 

On the front edge of the upper cover can be 
seen the remains of one tie of green silk, and the 
edges are protected all round by a piece of green 
silk braid. The edges of the leaves are plainly gilt. 

This cover is one of the rare instances of a 
book bound in embroidered work not made for it, 
the embroidery being clearly made for a book of 
about half the present thickness. It is possible 
that it was intended for either the New Testament 
or the Psalms separately, and, as an after-thought, 
was made to do double duty. But as it now is, 
the worked back is just a strip down the middle 
of the back itself, the designs of the sides en- 
croaching considerably inwards. 



44 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 



The Daily Exercise of a Christian. 
London, 1623. 

The Daily Exercise of a Christian, printed 
in London in 1623, and measuring 4f by 2f 
inches, is ornamented with a single flower spray, 
with buds and leaves. The flower is a double 
rose with curving stem, one large half-opened 
bud and one smaller, and a few leaves, all worked 
in tent-stitch. The spray rises from a small bed 
of grass, out of which grows a small blue flower. 
In the upper right-hand corner is a small blue 
cloud. The same design is on both sides. The 
back is divided into four panels, the divisions 
being marked and bounded by a thick silver 
braid, which is also used as an edging all round 
the book ; the designs, beginning at the top, 
are a fly and a flower alternately, differently 
coloured. 

The background is all worked in with silver 
thread in chain-stitch. With this book is one of 
the now rare ornamental markers, which, no doubt, 
often went with embroidered books. It is fastened 
to an ornamental oblong cushion, probably made 
of light wood, and is worked in silver thread 
and coloured silks in the same manner as the 
rest of the embroidered work, and finished off at 
the ends with small red tassels. 




1 1 — The Daily Exercise of a Christian. 
London, 1623. 




12 — Bible. London, 1626. 



• BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 45 

Bible. London, 1626-28. 

A copy of the Bible, printed in London in 1626, 
is bound in canvas, and measures 6 by 3^ inches. 

The embroidery is in coloured silks, silver 
cords and threads, and silver guimp. On the 
upper cover is a small full-length figure of St. 
Peter, with short beard, holding a key in his left 
hand. He is dressed in a blue under-garment, 
with red and orange robe over it, all the edges 
being marked by a silver twist, some of which 
has come off. The ground is green and in 
hillocks. All this work is done in coloured silks 
and silver threads in shading stitch. 

On the under side is a figure of St. Paul, with 
long beard, holding a silver sword in his right 
hand. He wears a blue under-garment, with red 
and orange upper robe, all edged with silver 
twist. The feet of both figures are bare. The 
rest of the design is the same on both sides. 
The skies are worked in large stitches of blue 
and yellow silk and silver threads, graduating 
from dark to light ; above these are canopies of 
silver thread, couched, and vandyked at the edge. 
Enclosing the figures are arches with columns, in 
high relief in silver cords and threads. The inner 
edge of the arch is curiously marked by a line of 
brown silk worked over a strip of vellum in the 
manner used for hand-worked head-bands, and 
the outer edge has ' crockets ' of silver guimp. 



46 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

The columns rest upon 'rams-horn' curves, heavily- 
worked in relief with silver threads, the insides 
of the curves worked in brown silk over vellum 
like the inner edge of the arch. 



Metal Threads used on Embroidered Books. 

Guimp and gold threads are largely used, as 
has already been noticed, in embroidered books 
from early times, but on the next specimen of a 
canvas-bound book I have chosen for description, 
dated 1642, a kind of metal thread occurs which 
is very curious. It is used at an earlier date on 
satin books, and it is also found more commonly 
upon them ; but as I have put the canvas books 
first for the purpose of description, and the 
* thread ' occurs in one of them, this is the best 
place to put its description. This thread I call 
' Purl,' and a thread with this name is mentioned 
in several places as having been used in England 
in the seventeenth century ; but there is no de- 
scription of it, so that this thread may not be the 
' purl ' mentioned by the seventeenth-century 
writers, but if it is not, I do not know what purl 
is, neither do I know any other special name for 
the thread. In order that there may be no doubt 
as to what I mean by purl, I will shortly describe 
the thread as I know it. 

First there is a very fine copper wire ; this is 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 47 

closely bound round with coloured silk, also very 
fine, and in this state it looks simply like a 
coloured thread. Then this coloured thread is 
itself closely coiled round something like a fine 
knitting-needle — in fact I have made it on one — 
and then pushed off in the form of a fine coiled 
tube. The thread is always cut into short lengths 
for use, and on books these short lengths are 
generally threaded and drawn together at their 
ends, making, so to speak, little arches — so that 
although on the under side of the material there 
is only a tiny thread, on the upper side there is a 
strong arch, practically of copper. On boxes and 
other ornamental productions of this same period, 
pieces of purl are not infrequently found laid flat 
like little bricks ; and houses, castles, etc., are 
often represented by means of it ; but on books 
the general use is either for flowers, grounds, or 
(in very small pieces) to keep on spangles. Ob- 
viously any coloured silk can be used in making 
this thread, so that it may be said that for 
coloured silk work, where strength is required, 
flowers worked in purl are the best. The colours 
used when roses are represented are usually 
graduated, — yellow or white in the centre, then 
gradually darkening outward, yellow, pale pink, 
and red, or pale yellow, pale blue, and dark blue. 
Purl flowers are usually accessories to some 
regular design, but, in one instance at least, to 
be described later on, it supplies the entire de- 
coration of a small satin book. 



48 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

Bible, etc. London, 1642. 

The design on a Bible with Psalms, printed 
in London in 1642, bound in fine canvas, and 
measuring 6 by 3J inches, is the same on both 
sides. The ground is all laid, or couched, with 
silver threads, caught down at intervals by small 
white stitches. In the centre is a circular silver 
boss, and out of this grow four lilies worked 
with silver thread in button-hole stitch ; each 
of these lilies has a shape similar to its own 
underneath it, outlined with fine gold cord, and 
filled in with red silk ; representing altogether 
white flowers with a red lining. These four red 
and white lilies make together the form of a 
Maltese cross, and between each of the arms is a 
purl rose with yellow centre and graduated blue 
petals. A double oval, with the upper and lower 
curves larger than the side ones, marked with a 
thick gold cord, encloses the central cross, and 
the remaining spaces are filled with ovals and 
lines of gold guimp, with here and there a little 
patch of red or yellow purl, the extremities of the 
upper and lower ovals being filled with threads 
of green silk loosely bound with a silver spiral, 
worked to represent a green plot. 

The upper and lower curves o{ the oval are 
thickened by an arch of gold thread laid length- 
wise, and kept in place by little radiating lines of 
red silk. In each corner is a purl rose, with 




13 — Bible, etc. London, 1642. 




CO 



c 
o 

c 
o 



1 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 49 

-blue centre, the petals graduating in colour from 
pale yellow to dark red, with leaf forms and 
stalks of gold cord and guimp. At the top and 
bottom of the oval is a many-coloured purl 
rose, and the spaces still left vacant are dotted 
with little pieces of red, blue, and yellow purl 
and spangles. On the front edges are the remains 
of two red silk ties. 

The back is divided into four panels by a 
thick gold twist. The upper and lower panels 
have each a blue purl rose worked in them, with 
a white and red lily in the same silver thread as 
those on the sides, with gold leaves and stalks ; 
the two inner panels contain each three purl 
roses, with gold leaves and stems. The upper 
of these panels has a large rose of blue, yellow, 
and red, and two smaller ones yellow with blue 
centres ; the lower panel has a large rose of red, 
pink, and yellow, and two smaller ones of red, 
with yellow centres. 

Dotted about the groundwork of the panels 
are several spangles and short lengths of coloured 
purl. 

The edges of the leaves are plainly gilt. 

Bible. London, 1648. 

A Bible, printed in London in 1648, formerly 
the property of George iii., is bound in canvas, 
and has embroidered upon the boards emblematic 



50 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

representations of Faith and Hope. It measures 
6| by 4| inches. 

On the upper side is a full-length figure of 
Faith. She has fair hair, and is dressed in an 
orange and red dress cut low, and showing in the 
front a pale blue under garment. She has a large 
white collar and cuffs, both in point-lace, and 
bears in her right hand an open book with the 
word 'Faith' written upon it, while her left hand 
rests upon a pointed shield, pale purple with a 
yellow centre. She is standing upon a rounded 
hillock, on which are a strawberry plant with two 
fruits, two caterpillars, a red tulip, and another 
flower. 

In the right-hand upper corner is a turreted 
and gabled house, the windows of which are 
marked with little glittering pieces of talc. Below 
the house is a caterpillar and a large blue butter- 
fly. In the left-hand upper corner is the sun, in 
gold, just appearing under a blue cloud. Under- 
neath this, in succession, come a tree with a 
butterfly upon it, a bird, most likely meant for 
a wren, and another caterpillar. The remains of 
two red tie-ribbons are near the front edges. The 
background is worked in silver thread, and the 
edges of the boards are bound w^ith silver braid 
having a thread or two of red silk on the inner- 
most side. 

On the under cover Hope appears in a curi- 
ously worked upper garment of blue and white, 



BOOKS BOUND IN CANVAS 51 

short in the sleeves, in needlepoint, with a belt. 
Under this is a dress of red and orange, showing 
a blue under skirt in front. A scarf of the same 
colour as the dress is gracefully folded over the 
shoulders and hangs over the left arm ; a rather 
deep collar and cuffs are both worked in needle- 
point. The right hand rests upon an anchor 
with a ' fouled ' rope. 

Hope stands upon a rounded hillock, on which 
are a snail and spray of possible foxglove, and 
out of which grow a red carnation and another 
flower. In the upper right-hand corner is a 
gabled cottage with a tree, and under it a moth, 
flower, and caterpillar. Towards the upper left- 
hand corner is a bank of cloud with red and 
yellow rays issuing therefrom, and under it a 
pear-tree with flower and fruit, and a many- 
coloured butterfly. All the background is worked 
in silver thread. 

The five panels of the back, indicated with 
silver cord, are each filled with a diflerent design. 
Beginning at the top, these are : a rose, a parrot 
with a red fruit, a double rose, a lion, and a lily. 
The edges are plainly gilt. 




CHAPTER III 

BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 

^T seems probable that velvet was a 
favourite covering for royal books 
in England from an early period. 
Such volumes as remain 'covered 
in vellat' that belonged to Henry vii. 
are, however, not embroidered, the 
ornamentation upon them being worked metal, or 
enamels upon metal. It is not until the time of 
Henry viii. that we have any instances remaining 
of books bound in embroidered velvet. 

Velvet is very troublesome to work upon, the 
pile preventing any delicate embroidery being 
done directly upon it, hence the prevalence of 
gold cords and appliqu^ work on canvas or 
linen, on which of course the embroidery may 
be executed as delicately as may be desired. 

Tres ample description de toute la terre Saincte, 
etc. [By Martin de Brion.] ms. of the six- 
teenth century, probably bound about 1540. 

The earliest extant English binding in em- 
broidered velvet covers this manuscript, which 




15 — Tres ample description de toute la terre Saincte, etc. 

MS. 1540. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 53 

belonged to Henry viii., and is dedicated to him. 
The manuscript is on vellum, and is beautifully- 
illuminated. It is bound in rich purple velvet, and 
each side, measuring 9 by 6 inches, is ornamented 
with the same design. In the centre is a large 
royal coat-of-arms, surrounded by the garter, and 
ensigned with a royal crown. The coat-of-arms 
and the garter are first worked in thick silks of 
the proper colours, red and blue, laid or couched, 
with small stitches of silk of the same colour, 
arranged so as to make a diamond pattern, on 
fine linen or canvas. On the coat are the arms 
of France and England quarterly; the bearings, 
respectively three fleur-de-lys and three lions, are 
solidly worked in gold cord, and the whole is 
appliqud on to the velvet with strong stitches. 
On the blue garter the legend ' Honi soit qui 
mal y pense ' is outlined in gold cord, between 
each word being a small red rose, the buckle, 
end, and edge of the garter being marked also 
in gold cord, and the whole appliqud like the 
coat. The very decorative royal crown is solidly 
worked in gold cords of varying thickness directly 
on to the velvet. The rim or circlet has five 
square jewels of red and blue silk along it, 
between each of these being two seed pearls. 
From the rim rise four crosses-patde and four 
fleurs-de-lys, at the base of each of which is a 
pearl, and also one in each inner corner of the 
crosses-patde. Four arches also rise from the 



54 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

rim, the two outer ones each having three small 
scrolls with a pearl in the middle ; at the top is 
a mound and cross-patde, with a pearl in each 
of its inner corners. There is a letter H on each 
side of the coat-of-arms, and these letters were 
originally doubtless worked with seed pearls, but 
the outlines of them alone are now left. In each 
corner is a red Lancastrian rose worked on a piece 
of satin, appliqud, the centres and petals marked 
in gold cord, and the whole enclosed in an outer 
double border of gold cord. On the front edges 
of each side are the remains of two red silk ties. 

This is certainly a very handsome piece of 
work, and is wonderfully preserved. It is the 
earliest example of a really fine embroidered book 
on velvet in existence, and it has perhaps been 
more noticed and illustrated than any other book 
of its kind. The crown has an interesting 
peculiarity about it, which does not appear, as 
far as I have observed, on any other representation 
of it, namely, that the four arciies take their 
rise directly from the rim. They generally rise 
from the summits of the crosses-pat^e, but I 
should fancy that the rise from the circlet itself 
is more correct. 

Biblia. Tiguri, 1543. 

This Bible also belonged to Henry viii. It is 
bound in velvet, originally some shade of red or 
crimson, but now much faded. It measures 15 




1 6 — Biblia. Tiguri, 1543. 




17—11 Petrarcha. Venetia, 1544. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 55 

by 9j inches. It is ornamented with arabesques 
and initials all outlined with fine gold cord. In 
the centre are the initials H. R., bound together 
by an interlacing knot, within a circle. Arab- 
esques above and below the circle make up an 
inner panel, itself enclosed by a broad border of 
arabesques, with a double, or Tudor, rose in each 
corner. The edges of the leaves of the book are 
elaborately painted with heraldic designs. 

It has been re-backed with leather, but still 
retains the original boards. 

II Petrarcha. Venetia, 1544. 

Another fine example of the decorative use of 
Heraldry occurs on a copy of Petrarch printed at 
Venice in 1544, and probably bound about 1548, 
after the death of Henry viii. It belonged to 
Queen Katherine Parr, and bears her arms with 
several quarterings — worked appliqud on rich 
blue purple velvet, and measures 7 by 6 inches. 
The first coat is the ' coat of augmentation ' 
granted to the Queen by Henry viii. — ' Argent, 
on a pile gules, between six roses of the same, 
three others of the field ' — and the next coat is 
that of ' Parr.' 

The various quarterings on this coat are 
worked differently from those on the last book de- 
scribed. Here the red and blue are well shown 
by pieces of coloured satin — except in the first, 



56 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

fifth, and seventh coats, where there is some 
couched work in diamond pattern, just like that 
on Martin Brion's book. The entire coat, which 
is of an ornamental shape, is appliqud in one 
large piece, and edged by a gold cord. The 
crown surmounting it is heavily worked in gold 
guimp — the cap being represented in crimson silk 
thread and all appliqu^. There are two sup- 
porters — that on the right, an animal breathing 
flame, and gorged with a coronet from which 
hangs a long chain, all worked in coloured silks 
on linen and appliqud, belongs to the Fitzhugh 
family, the coat of which is shown on the third 
quarter ; that on the left, a wyvern argent, also 
gorged with a coronet, from which depends a long 
gold chain, is that of the Parr family. The 
wyvern is a piece of blue silk, finished in gold and 
silver cords, in appliqu^. The gold cord enclosing 
the armorial design is amplified at each corner 
into an arabesque scroll. The book has been 
most unfortunately rebound, and the work is 
badly strained in consequence — the back being 
entirely new ; nevertheless it is in a wonder- 
ful state of preservation. It is said to have been 
worked by Queen Katherine Parr herself. The 
design is too^large for the book, and the crown is 
too large for the coat-of-arms. It is probable that 
the binding of the book was done after the death 
of Henry viii., otherwise the supporters would 
have been the lion and the greyhound ; also the 




1 8 — Queen Mary's Psalter. 14th-century MS. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 57 

coat-of-arms would have been different ; also, as 
the Seymour coat does not appear, it is likely 
that the binding was done before Queen Katherine 
Parr's marriage with Lord Seymour of Sudley, 
in 1547. The design is the same on both sides. 

Queot Marys Psalter. 14th-century Ms, 
Bound about 1553. 

The beautiful English manuscript of the 
fourteenth century known as ' Queen Mary's 
Psalter' was presented to her in 1553. It is 
bound in crimson velvet, measuring 11 by 6f 
inches, and appliqud on each side is a large con- 
ventional pomegranate-flower worked on fine 
linen in coloured silks and gold thread. This 
flower is much worn, but enough is left to show 
that it was originally finely worked. Queen 
Mary used the pomegranate as a badge in 
memory of her mother, Katharine of Aragon. 
The volume has been re-backed in plain crimson 
velvet, and still retains the original gilt corners 
with bosses, and two clasps, on the plates of which 
are engraved the Tudor emblems, — portcullis, 
dragon, lion, and fleur-de-lys. 

Christopherson, Historia Ecclesiastica. 
Lovanii, 1569. 

Many fine bindings in embroidered velvet of 
the time of Queen Elizabeth still remain, several 
of them having been her own property. 

H 



58 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

One of the most decorative of these last is 
unfortunately in a very bad state, owing possibly 
to the fact that there were originally very many 
separate pearls upon it, and that these have from 
time to time been wilfully picked off. The book 
is in three volumes, and is a copy of the Historia 
Ecclesiastica, written by Christopherson, Bishop 
of Chichester, and printed at Louvain in 1569. 
Each of these volumes is bound in the same 
way, so the description of one of them will serve 
for all, except that no one volume is perfect, so 
the description must be taken as representing 
only what each originally was. 

It is covered in deep green velvet, and 
measures 6 by 3^ inches, the design being the 
same on each side. In the centre the royal coat- 
of-arms is appliqu^ in blue and red satin, on 
an ornamental cartouche of pink satin, with 
scrolls of gold threads and coloured silks, richly 
dotted with small pearls. The bearings on the 
coats-of-arms are solidly worked in fine gold 
threads. 

From each corner of the sides springs a rose 
spray, with Tudor roses of red silk mixed with 
pearls, and Yorkist roses all worked in pearls 
clustering tight together, the leaves and stems 
being made in gold cord and guimp. A decora- 
tively arranged ribbon outlined with gold cord 
and filled in with a line of small pearls set near 
each other, encloses the design, and numerous 




20 — Christian Prayers. London, 1570. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 59 

single pearls are set in the spaces between the 
roses and their leaves and stems. 

The back is divided into five panels bearing 
alternately Yorkist roses of pearls and Tudor 
roses of red silk and pearls, all worked in the 
same way as the roses on the sides. 

The illustration I give of this binding (Frontis- 
piece) is necessarily a restoration. But there is 
nothing added which was not originally on the 
book. Each pearl that has disappeared has left 
a little impress on the velvet, and so has each 
piece of gold cord which has been pulled off. 
The back is still existing ; but bad though both 
sides and back now are, it is much better they 
should be in their present condition than that 
they should have been mended or replaced in 
parts by newer material. 

Christian Prayers. London, 1570. 

A simpler binding, but still one of great rich- 
ness, covers a copy of Christian Prayers, printed 
in London in 1570. 

This is covered in crimson velvet, measuring 
6 by 3^ inches, and is worked largely with metal 
threads, mixed with coloured silks. In the centre 
is the crest of the family of Vaughan — a man's 
head with a snake round the neck. The crest 
rests on a fillet, and is enclosed in a twisted circle 
of gold with four coloured bosses. From the upper 



6o ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

and lower extremities of this circle spring two 
flower forms in gold and silver guimp, with 
sprays issuing from them bearing strawberries, 
grape bunches, and leaves, in the upper half, and 
roses and leaves in the lower. The grapes are 
represented by rather large spangles, and the 
leaves, worked in gold, have a few strands of 
green silk in them ; large spangles, kept down by 
a short piece of guimp, are used to fill in spaces 
here and there. This is the first instance of the 
use of spangles on a velvet book. The back is 
tastefully ornamented with gold cord arranged 
diamond-wise, and having in each diamond a 
flower worked in gold. 

Parker, De antiqtiitate Ecclesice Britannicce. 
London, 1572. 

This is one of the embroidered books that 
belonged to Queen Elizabeth, and has been 
frequently illustrated and described. It is re- 
markable in other respects than for its binding, 
as it is one of a number of probably not more 
than twenty copies of a work by Matthew 
Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, De antiquitate 
EcclesicB Britannicce, printed for him by John 
Day in London, 1572. It was the first instance 
of a privately printed book being issued in 
England. 

Archbishop Parker had a private press, and 




2 1 — ^Parker, De antiquitate Ecclesiie Britannica;. 
London, 1572. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 6i 

his books were printed with types cast at his own 
cost, John Day being sometimes employed as his 
workman. No two copies of this particular work 
are alike, and it is supposed that the Archbishop 
continually altered the sheets as they came from 
the press and had the changes effected at once. 
The book has two title-pages, each of which, as 
well as a leaf containing the arms of the Bishops 
in vellum, the ornamental borders, and coats-of- 
arms throughout the book, are emblazoned in gold 
and colours. 

The biographies of sixty-nine Archbishops 
are contained in the book, but not Parker's 
own. This omission was supplied afterwards 
by a little satirical tract published in 1574, 
entitled ' Histriola, a little storye of the actes 
and life of Matthew, now archbishop of Canter- 
bury.' 

But the Archbishop not only had his printing 
done under his own roof, but also had in his 
house ' Paynters . . . wryters, and Boke-binders,' 
so that it may fairly enough be considered that he 
bound the splendid copy of his great work which 
was intended for the Queen's acceptance, in a 
specially handsome manner, under his own 
direct supervision, and in accordance not only 
with his own taste but also with that of his 
royal mistress. The volume is a large one, 
measuring 10 by 7 inches, and is covered in dark 
green velvet. On both sides the design is a rebus 



62 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

on the name of Parker, representing in fact a 
Park within a high paling. The palings are 
represented as if lying flat, and are worked in gold 
cord with flat strips of silver, on yellow satin 
appliqud. There are gates and other small open- 
ings in the continuity of the line of palings. On 
the upper cover within the paling is a large rose- 
bush, bearing a large Tudor rose and two white 
roses in full bloom, with buds and leaves, some 
tendrils extending over the palings. The stalks 
are of silver twist edged with gold cord, the red 
flowers are worked with red silk and gold cord, 
the white ones made up with small strips of flat 
silver and gold cord. Detached flowers and tufts 
of grass grow about the rose-tree ; among these 
are two purple and yellow pansies, Elizabeth's 
favourite flowers, and in each corner is a deer, 
one ' courant,' one ' passant,' one feeding, and one 
'lodged.' 

The design fills the side of the book very fully, 
and the workmanship is everywhere excellent. 
This upper cover is much faded, as it has been 
for many years exposed to the light in one of the 
Binding show-cases in the King's Library at the 
British Museum. 

The under side is much fresher, but the design 
not so elaborate. There is a similar paling to 
that on the other side, the ' Park ' being dotted 
about with several plants, ferns, and tufts of 
grass. Near each corner is a deer, one feeding. 




22 — The Epistles of St. Paul. London, 1578. 

(Frnm a drawing). 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 63 

one ' couchant,' one * tripping,' and one ' courant,' 
and one 'lodged' in the centre. There are also 
two snakes worked in silver thread with small 
colour patches in silk. 

The back is badly worn, but the original 
design can be easily traced upon it. There were 
five panels, in each of which is a small rose-tree, 
bearing one large flower, with leaves and buds, 
and tufts of grass. The first, third, and fifth of 
these are white Yorkist roses ; the second and 
third are Tudor roses of white and red. 

The Epistles of St. Paul. London, 1578. 

If this book of Archbishop Parker's is one 
of the most elaborately ornamented embroidered 
books existing, and perhaps one of the greatest 
treasures of its kind in the British Museum, the 
next velvet book to describe is one of the simplest, 
yet it also is one of the greatest treasures of its 
kind at the Bodleian Library. 

It is a small copy of the Epistles of St. Paul, 
printed by Barker in London, 1578, and measuring 
4i by 3^ inches, and it belonged to Queen Eliza- 
beth. Inside she has written a note in which she 
says : ' I walke manie times into the pleasant 
fieldes of the Holy Scriptures, where I plucke up 
the goodlie greene herbes of sentences by pruning, 
eate them by reading, chawe them by musing, 
and laie them, up at length in the hie seat of 



64 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

memorie by gathering them together, so that 
having tasted thy swetenes I may the less perceive 
the bitterness of this miserable life.' 

The Rev. W. D. Macray, in the Annals of the 
Bodleian Library, says, ' This belonged to Queen 
Elizabeth, and is bound in a covering worked by 
herself ; and the Countess of Wilton, in the Art 
of Embroidery, says, ' The covering is done in 
needlework by the Queen herself.' 

It is also described by Dibdin in Bibliomania. 
He says, ' The covering is done in needlework by 
the Queen herself.' 

The black velvet binding is much worn, and 
has been badly repaired. The work upon it is all 
done in silver cord or guimp, and the designing, 
as well as the work, is such as may well have 
been done by the Queen. 

On both covers borders with legends in Latin, 
enclosed in lines of gold cord, run parallel to the 
edges. Beginning at the right-hand corners of 
each side, these legends read, ' Beatus qui divitias 
scripturae legens verba vertit in opera — Celum 
Patria Scopus vitae xpus — Christus via — Christo 
vive.' In the centre oi the upper side is a ribbon 
outlined in gold cord, with the words, ' Eleva 
sursum ibi ubi,' a heart being enclosed within the 
ribbon, and a long stem with a flower at the top 
passing through it. In the centre of the lower 
side a similar ribbon with the motto, ^ Vicit omnia 
pertinax virtus,' encloses a daisy, a badge pre- 




2 ^.—Christian Prayers, etc. London, i 584. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 65 

viously used by Henry viii. and Edward vi., 
probably in memory of their ancestress, Margaret 
Beaufort. Both these inner scrolls have the 
initial letter E interwoven with them. 

There is no doubt that the usual royal em- 
broidered bindings of the time of Elizabeth were 
elaborately designed and richly worked, in decided 
contrast to this small book ; and this difference of 
style makes it more probable that the Queen 
worked it herself. 

There is no resemblance between this book 
and the two canvas-bound books already described 
which are attributed to her, except the use of cord 
alone in the embroidery ; but the difference of 
material might perhaps he considered sufficient 
to account for this. No real evidence seems 
to be forthcoming as to the authorship of the 
embroidered work, but there is no doubt that the 
book was a favourite one of Queen Elizabeth's, 
and if the needlework had been done for her by 
any of the ladies of her Court, it would be likely 
that she would have added a note to that effect to 
the words she has written inside. 

Christian Prayers, etc. London, 1584. 

A copy of Christian Prayers, with the Psalms, 
printed in London in 1581 and 1584, is curiously 
bound in soft paper boards strengthened on the 
inner side with pieces of morocco and covered 



66 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

with pale tawny velvet. It measures 7^ by 5^ 
inches. The edges of the leaves are gilt and 
gauffred. 

The arrangement of the design is unusual. It 
starts from the centre of the back in the form of a 
broad ornamental border, extending towards the 
front edges along the lines of the boards. This 
border is handsomely ornamented by a wavy line 
of silver cords, filled out with conventional flowers 
and arabesques worked in gold and silver cords and 
threads, with a little bit of coloured silk here and 
there. A symmetrical design of flower forms 
and arabesques starts, on each board, from the 
centre of the inner edge of the border, and is 
worked in a similar way. Some of the leaves, 
however, have veinings marked by strips of flat 
silver, and others made by a flattened silver 
spiral, having the appearance of a succession of 
small rings. There are the remains of two pale 
orange silk ties on the front edges of each board, 
and the edges are gilt and gaufl'red with a little 
colour. 

The petals of the flowers are worked in guimp, 
whether gold or silver is difficult to say. Indeed 
in many instances of the older books it is difficult 
to be sure whether a metal cord or thread was 
originally gilded or not, as all these ' gold ' threads 
are, or were, silver gilt, so that when worn the 
silver only remains. If the cord or thread has 
been protected in any corners, however, or if it 




2^ — Orationis Doniiniccc Explicatio, etc. 
Genevae, 1583. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 67 

can be lifted a little, the faint ^trace of gold can 
often be seen on what would otherwise have been 
surely put down as originally silver. 

Oratioitis Dominican Explicatio, etc. 
Genevse, 1583. 

There is in the British Museum a copy of 
Orationis DomiiiiccB Explicatio, per Lamberttim 
Dancemn, printed at Geneva in 1583, which be- 
longed to Queen Elizabeth. It is bound in black 
velvet, measures 6f by \\ inches, and is orna- 
mented most tastefully, each side having an 
arabesque border in gold cord and silver guimp, 
enclosing a panel with a design of white and red 
roses, with stems and leaves worked in gold cord 
and silver guimp with a trifle of coloured silk on 
the red roses and on the small leaves showing 
between the petals. On the front edge are the 
remains of red and gold ties. The design of this 
charming little book is excellent, and the colour 
of it when new must have been very effective. 
The design is the same on both sides. The back 
is in bad condition, and is panelled with arab- 
esques in gold and silver cord. 

Bible. London, 1583. 

The most decorative, and in many ways the 
finest, of all the remaining embroidered books of 



68 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

the time of Elizabeth is now at the Bodleian 
Library at Oxford. It is one of the 'Douce' 
Bibles, printed in London in 1583, and probably 
bound about the same time. It was the property 
of the Queen herself, and is bound in crimson 
velvet, measuring 17 by 12 inches. The design 
is the same on both sides, and consists of a very 
cleverly arranged scroll of six rose stems, bearing 
flowers, buds, and leaves springing from a large 
central rose, with four auxiliary scrolls crossing 
the corners and intertwining at their ends. The 
large rose in the centre as well as those near the 
corners are Tudor roses, the red shown in red 
silk and the white in silver guimp, both outlined 
with gold cord. Small green leaves are shown 
between each of the outer petals. These flowers 
are heavily and solidly worked in high relief. 
The smaller flowers are all of silver, the buds, 
some red, some white. The stems are of thick 
silver twist enclosed between finer gold cords, and 
the leaves show a little green silk among the 
gold cord with which they are outlined and veined. 
Immediately above and below the centre rose are 
two little T's worked in small pearls. 

The narrow border round the edges is very 
pretty ; it is a wavy line of gold cord and green 
silk, the hollows within the curves being filled 
with alternate ' Pods ' with pearls, and green 
leaves. The back is divided into four panels by 
wavy lines of gold cord and pearls, and the upper 




25 Bible. London, 1583. 




26 — The Commonplaces of Peter Martyr. 
London, 1583. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 69 

and lower panels have small rose-plants with 
white roses, buds, and leaves; the inner panels have 
each a large Tudor rose of red and white, with 
leaves and buds. The drawing and designing 
of this splendid book are admirable, and the 
workmanship is in every way excellent. Many of 
the pearls are gone, and some of the higher por- 
tions of the large roses are abraded, the back, as 
usual, being in a rather bad state ; but in spite 
of all this, and the inevitable fading, the work 
remains in a sufficiently preserved condition to 
show that at this period the art of book- 
embroidery reached its highest decorative point. 
It is rather curious to note that Henry viii. used 
the red Lancastrian rose by preference, but that 
on Elizabeth's books the white rose always ap- 
pears, and I know of very few instances where 
the red rose appears on her books. Of course 
both sovereigns used the combined, double, or 
Tudor rose as well. 

The Commonplaces of Peter Martyr. 
London, 1583. 

An embroidered book designed in a manner 
which is characteristic of a gold tooled book is 
found but rarely. An instance of this however is 
found on a copy of The Commonplaces of Peter 
Martyr, translated by Anthonie Marten, and 
printed in London in 1583. It is covered in 



70 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

blue purple velvet measuring 13^ by 9 inches, 
and the design upon it is a broad outer border 
doubly outlined with a curious and effective braid, 
apparently consisting of a close series of small 
silver rings, but really being only a silver spiral 
flattened out. This border is dotted at regular 
intervals with star-shaped clusters of small pieces 
of silver guimp symmetrically arranged. The 
centre of the inner panel is a diamond-shaped 
ornament made with similar ' ring-' braid and 
small pieces of silver guimp, and the corner-pieces 
are quarter circles worked in the same way. This 
design of centre-piece and corner-pieces is dis- 
tinctly borrowed from leather work, and I have 
never seen another example of the kind executed 
in needlework. The colouring of this book is 
very good, the purple and silver harmonising in a 
very pleasing manner. 

Biblia. Antverpiae, 1590. 

A beautiful binding of green velvet covers a 
Bible printed at Antwerp in 1590, measuring 
7 by 4 inches. The design is the same on both 
sides, and the book was apparently bound for 
' T. G.,' whose initials are worked into the design ; 
a conventional arrangement of curving stems and 
flower forms worked in gold cord, guimp, and 
small pearls thickly encrusted ; the same on both 
boards. The centre is a large conventional 



'*»-' >.rf#<' 



vrtsi-amv 



#'^ 



1 • ^ ■ •• 






;V>/ -"^^z 



iti; 






V V ... ». ... v ^. ... '■,,„,. V. 



••'.'^ - 



^1^. 



27 — Biblia. Antverpia^, 1590. 




28 — Udall, Sermons. London, 1596. 
{From a drawing). 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 71 

flower, in form resembling a carnation, with 
serrated petals, having a garnet below it, and 
flanked by the letters T. G., all thickly worked 
with reed pearls. In each corner is a smaller 
flower — conventionalised forms probably of honey- 
suckle and rose — ^joined together by curving stems 
of gold cord, filled out with leaves and arabesques, 
all together forming a very decorative panel. 
The outer border is richly worked with leaves and 
arabesques in guimp and pearls, the outer line 
of gold cord being ornamented with small triple 
points marked with pearls. The back is divided 
into three spaces by curving lines of gold cord, 
and in each of these spaces is worked one of the 
same conventionalised flower forms as occur on 
the boards, i.e. a honeysuckle, cornflower, and 
rose, with leaves and smaller curves of gold cord. 

The ground of the entire work is freely orna- 
mented with gilt spangles held down by small 
pieces of guimp, and with single pearls ; the larger 
of these are enclosed within circles of guimp, the 
smaller are simply sewn on one by one. 

There are remains of gilt clasps on the front 
edges of each of the boards, and the edges of the 
leaves are gilt and gauffred, with a little pale 
colour. 

Udall, Sermons. London, 1596. 

A few specimens of embroidered books were 
exhibited at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 



72 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

1 89 1. Among them was a charming velvet bind- 
ing that belonged to Queen Elizabeth, lent by 
S. Sandars, Esq., and now in the University 
Library, Cambridge. It is a copy of Udall's 
Sermons, printed in London in 1596, and is 
covered in crimson velvet, measuring about 6 by 
4 inches. The design is the same on each side, the 
royal coat-of-arms appliqu^, with the initials E. R., 
and a double rose in each corner with stalks and 
leaves. The coat-of-arms is made up with pieces 
of blue and red satin, the bearings heavily worked 
with gold thread, and the ground also thickly 
studded with small straight pieces of guimp, doubt- 
less put there to insure the greater flatness of the 
satin. The crown with which the coat-of-arms is 
ensigned is all worked in guimp, and is without 
the usual cap. The ornaments on the rim are 
only trefoils, and there are five arches. 

The initials flanking the coat are worked in 
guimp, as are the corner roses and leaves. The 
guimp used is apparently silver, and the cord used 
for the outlines and stems is gold. The back has 
a gold line down the middle and along the joints, 
with a wavy line of gold cord each side of it. 

Collection of Sixteenth-Century Tracts. 
Bound about 1610. 

To Henry, Prince of Wales, we owe a great 
debt of gratitude, as he was the first person of 




29 — Collection of Sixieenth-Century Tracts. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 73 

much consequence in our royal family to take 
any real interest in the Old Royal Library. 

Indeed it may be considered that the existence 
to-day of the splendid 'Old Royal' Library of 
the kings of England, which was presented to 
the nation in 1759 by George 11., is largely due 
to the attention drawn to its interest and value by 
Prince Henry, who moreover added considerably 
to it himself. 

This Prince used as his favourite and personal 
badge the beautiful design of three white ostrich 
feathers within a golden coronet, and with the 
motto ' ICH DiEN ' on a blue ribbon. With regard 
to the origin of this badge there is unfortunately 
a good deal of obscurity. The usual explanation 
is that it was the helmet-crest of the blind king 
of Bohemia, who was killed at Crdcy in 1346, 
and that in remembrance of this it was adopted 
by the Black Prince as his badge. But, as a 
matter of fact, the ostrich feather was used as a 
family badge by all the sons of Edward iii. and 
their descendants. It appears to have been the 
cognisance of the province of Ostrevant, a dis- 
trict lying between Artois and Hainault, and the 
appanage of the eldest sons of the house of Hain- 
ault. In this way it may have been adopted by 
the family of Edward iii. by right of his wife, 
Philippa of Hainault. 

An early notice of the ostrich feather as a 
royal badge occurs in a note in one of the Har- 

K 



74 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

leian mss. to the effect that ' Henrye, son to the 
erle of Derby, fyrst duke of Lancaster, gave the 
red rose crowned, whose ancestors gave the fox 
tayle in his proper cooler, and the ostrych fether, 
the pen ermine,' the Henry here mentioned being 
the father of Blanche, wife of John of Gaunt. 

On the tomb of Prince Arthur, son of Henry 
VII., at Worcester, the feather is shown both 
singly and in plume, and it occurs in the triple 
plume form within a coronet and a scroll with 
the words ' ich dien ' upon it, on bindings made 
by Thomas Berthelet for Prince Edward, son of 
Henry viii., who never was Prince of Wales. 

It really seems as if the first ' Prince of Wales ' 
actually to use the ostrich feather plumes as a 
personal badge of that dignity was Prince Henry, 
and it occurs largely on such books belonging 
to his library as he had rebound, and also on 
books that were specially bound for presentation 
to him. 

This is the case in one of the most decorative 
bindings he possessed, enclosing a collection of 
tracts originally the property of Henry viii., but 
which somehow or other became the property of 
Magdalen College, Cambridge, the governing 
body of which had it bound in embroidered 
velvet and presented to Prince Henry. 

The cover is of crimson velvet, the edges of 
which extend freely beyond the edges of the book, 
bound all round with a fringe of gold cord. It 




JO — Bacon, Opera. Londini, 1623. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 75 

measures about 8 by 6 inches. The design is the 
same on each side. In the centre is a large triple 
plume of ostrich feathers, thickly and beautifully 
worked in small pearls, within a golden coronet, 
and having below them the motto ' ich dien ' in 
gold upon a blue silk ribbon. 

The badge is enclosed in a rectangular panel 
of gold cords, in each corner of which is an 
ornamental spray of gold cords, guimp, and a 
flower in pearls. A broad border with a richly 
designed arabesque of gold guimp or cord, with 
pearl flowers, encloses the central panel. The 
design is filled in freely with small pearls enclosed 
in guimp circles and small pearls alone. 

The back has an ornamental design in gold 
cord and guimp. This cover is a beautiful 
specimen of later decorative work on velvet, and 
the general effect is extremely rich, the design 
and workmanship being equally well chosen as 
regards the materials to which they are applied, 
and with which they are worked. 

Bacon, Opera. Londini, 1623. 

A copy of the works of Francis Bacon, Viscount 
St. Albans, printed in London in 1623, is bound 
in rich purple velvet, and measures 13^ by 8f 
inches. The design is a central panel with 
arabesque centre and corners, surrounded by a 
deep border of close curves and arabesques, all 



76 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

worked in gold cord and guimp. There are 
several gold spangles used, kept down by a small 
piece of gold guimp. The front edges of each 
board have only the marks left where two ties 
originally were, and the edges of the book are 
simply gilt. 

Bacon, Essays. 1625. 

A copy of another work by the same author, 
the Essays printed in 1625, was given by him to 
the Duke of Buckingham, and is now at the 
Bodleian Library at Oxford. It is bound in dark 
green velvet, measuring about 7 by 5 inches, the 
same design being embroidered on each side. In 
the centre is a small panel portrait of the Duke 
of Buckingham, with short beard, and wearing 
the ribbon of the Garter. The portrait is mostly 
worked with straight perpendicular stitches, except 
the hair and collar, in which the stitches are 
differently arranged. The background merges 
from nearly white just round the head to pink at 
the outer edge ; the coat is brownish. The frame- 
work of the portrait is solidly worked in gold 
braids and silver guimp in relief, the design 
being of an architectural character. Two columns, 
with floral capitals and pediments, spring from a 
scroll-work base and support what may perhaps 
be intended for a gothic arch with crockets. Im- 
mediately above the crown of the arch is a ducal 
coronet, and a handsome border of elaborate 




,1 — -Bacon, Essays. 1625. 




;2 — Common Praver. London, 1638. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET Tj 

arabesques reaching far inwards is worked all 
round the edges. The outlines of these arabesques, 
the stalks and curves, are all worked in gold 
cords, the petals and leaves in silver guimp in 
relief. The back is divided into eight panels by 
gold and silver cords, and in each of these panels 
is a four-petalled flower with small circles. There 
are several gilt spangles kept down by a small 
piece of guimp. 

Common Prayer. London, 1638. 

Among the few older royal books in the 
library at Windsor Castle is an embroidered one 
that belonged to Prince Charles, afterwards 
Charles 11. It is a copy of the Book of Coimfion 
Prayer, printed in London in 1638, and is bound 
in blue velvet with embroidered work in gold 
cord and silver guimp, similar in character to 
that on the copy of Bacon's Essays just described. 
It measures 8 by 6 inches. The design is heraldic. 
In the centre is the triple plume of the Prince of 
Wales, with coronet and label, no motto being 
apparent on the latter. The plume is encircled 
by the Garter appliqud, on pale blue silk, the 
motto, worked in silver cord, being nearly worn 
off. Resting on the top of the Garter is a large 
princely coronet, flanking which are the letters 
' C. P.' In the lower corners are a thistle and a 
rose. A broad border with arabesques encloses 



78 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

the central panel. This book was exhibited by 
Her Majesty at the Burlington Fine Arts Club 
in 1891. It is in very bad condition, which is 
curious, as it is not so very old, and as it is still 
among the royal possessions it might well have 
been imagined that it would have been better 
preserved than other and older books of a like 
kind which we know have been considerably 
moved about. The colour is however very 
charming still, and books have rarely been bound 
in blue velvet, black, green, or crimson being 
most usual. 

After 1649, or thereabouts, there was a full 
stop for a time to any art production in the 
matter of bookbinding. Indeed, for the em- 
broidered books as a class that is the end, but 
nevertheless a few examples are found at a later 
date, but no regular production and no original 
designs. 

Bible. Cambridge, 1674. 

A large Bible printed at Cambridge in 1674, 
in two volumes, was bound in crimson velvet for 
James 11., presumably about 1685. The work 
upon it, each volume being the same, is of a 
showy character, good and strong, but utterly 
wanting in any of the artistic qualities either of 
design or execution which characterised so many 
of the earlier examples. In the centre are the 
initials 'J. R,' surmounted by a royal crown, heavily 




JO" 



Bible. Cambridge, 1674. 



BOOKS BOUND IN VELVET 79 

worked in gold braid, guimp, and some coloured 
silks. Enclosing the initials and crown are scrolls 
in thick gold twist ; these again are surrounded 
by a curving ribbon of gold, intertwined with 
roses and leafy sprays. In each corner is a silver- 
faced cherub with beads for eyes and gold wings, 
and at the top a small blue cloud with sun rays, 
tears dropping from it. There are two broad silk 
ties to the front of each board, heavily fringed 
with gold. 

The back is divided into nine panels, each 
containing an arabesque ornament worked in gold 
cord and thread, the first and last panels being 
larger than the others and containing a more 
elaborate design. The edges of the leaves are 
simply gilt, and the boards measure 18 by 12 
inches each, the largest size of any embroidered 
book known to me. 




CHAPTER IV 

BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 

Collection of Sixteenth-Century Tracts. 
Bound probably about 1536. 

lERHAPS the earliest existing- 
English book bound in satin is 
a collection of sixteenth - century- 
tracts that belonged to Henry viii., 
and is now part of the Old Royal 
Library in the British Museum. 
It is covered in red satin, measures 12 by 8 
inches, and is embroidered in an arabesque 
design, outlined with gold cord. On the edges 
the words ' Rex in aeternum vive Neez ' are 
written in gold. The word ' Neez ' or ' Nez,' as 
it is sometimes spelt, may mean Nebuchadnezzar, 
as the other words were addressed to him. On 
books bound in leather by Thomas Berthelet, 
royal binder to Henry viii. and his immediate 
successors, the motto often occurs, and as he 
is known to have bound books in ' crymosyn 
satin,' this is most likely his work. The pattern 




54 — Collection of Sixteenth-Century Tracts. 




35 — New Testament in Greek. 
Leyden, 1570. 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 8i 

is worked irregularly all round the boards, and a 
sort of arabesque bridge crosses the centres. The 
back is new, and of leather, but the boards them- 
selves are the original ones, and the embroidery 
is in a very fair condition. 

New Testament in Greek. Leyden, 1576. 

If early bindings in satin are rare, still rarer 
is the use of silk. One example worked on 
white ribbed silk still remains that belonged to 
Queen Elizabeth. It measures 4f by 2f inches, 
and in its time was no doubt a very decorative 
and interesting piece of work, but it is now in 
a very dilapidated state, largely due to improper 
repairing. The book has actually been rebound 
in leather, and the old embroidered sides stuck 
on. So it must be remembered that my illustra- 
tion of it is considerably restored. The design, 
alike on both sides, is all outlined with gold cords 
and twists of different kinds and thicknesses, and 
the colour is added in water-colours on the silk. 
In the centre is the royal coat-of-arms within an 
oval garter ensigned with a royal crown, in the 
adornment of which a few seed pearls are used, 
as they are also on the ends of the garter. 

Enclosing the coat-of-arms is an ornamental 
border of straight lines and curves, worked with 
a thick gold twist, intertwined with graceful 
sprays of double and single roses, outlined in 

L 



82 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

gold and coloured red, with buds and leaves. A 
few symmetrical arabesques, similarly outlined 
and coloured, fill in some of the remaining spaces. 
The work on this book, a New Testament in 
Greek, printed at Leyden in 1576, is like no 
other; but the general idea of the design, rose- 
sprays cleverly intertwined, is one that may be 
considered characteristic of the Elizabethan em- 
broidered books, as it frequently occurs on them. 
The use of water-colour with embroidery is very 
rare, and it is never found on any but silk or 
satin bindings, generally as an adjunct in support 
of coloured-silk work over it, but in this single 
instance it is used alone. 



Seventeenth-Centitry Embroidered Books. 

The books described hitherto have been 
specimens of rare early instances, but in the 
seventeenth century there is a very large field 
to choose from. Small books, mostly religious 
works, were bound in satin from the beginning 
of the century until the time of the Common- 
wealth in considerable numbers ; so much so, in 
fact, that their value depends not so much upon 
their designs or workmanship as upon their 
condition. 

It is generally considered that embroidered 
books are extremely delicate, but this is not 
so ; they will stand far more wear than would 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 83 

be imagined from their frail appearance. The 
embroidered work actually protects the satin, 
and such signs of wear as are visible are often 
found rather in the satin itself, where unprotected, 
than in the work upon it. In many cases a 
peculiar appearance, which is often mistaken for 
wear, is seen in the case of representations of 
insects, caterpillars, or butterflies particularly. 
These creatures, or parts of them, appear to 
consist only of slight stitches of plain thread, 
suggesting either that the work has never been 
finished, or else that the finished portions have 
worn away. The real fact is, however, that these 
places have been originally worked with small 
bright pieces of peacock's feather, which have 
either tumbled out or been eaten away by 
minute insects, a fate to which it is well known 
peacocks' feathers are particularly liable. 

The late Lady Charlotte Schreiber, who was a 
great collector of pieces of old embroidery, among 
a host of other curious things possessed the only 
perfect instance of work of this kind of the 
seventeenth century I have ever been fortunate 
enough to find. It was a very realistic cater- 
pillar, closely and completely worked with very 
small pieces of 'peacocks' feathers, sewn on with 
small stitches, quite confirming the opinion I 
had already formed as to the original filling in 
of the usual ' bald ' spaces representing such ob- 
jects. 



84 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

Bible. London, 1619. 

A copy of a Bible, printed in London in 1619, 
is bound in white satin, and measures 6 by 3^ 
inches. On each side is an emblematic figure 
enclosed in an oval ; the figures are different, but 
their surroundings are alike. On the upper side 
a lady holding a palm branch in her right hand is 
worked in shading-stitch. She is full length, and 
wears an orange skirt with purple robe over it 
confined by a blue belt, and over her shoulders 
a pink jacket — all these garments are outlined by 
a gold cord. Her fair hair is covered by an 
ornamental cap of red and gold, and her feet are 
bare. 

The ground is worked with coloured silks and 
threads of fine wire closely twisted round with 
coloured silks, and the sky, painted in gradations 
of pink in water-colours, is worked sparsely with 
long stitches of blue silk. 

The lower side shows a female figure worked in 
a similar way ; in this case she bears in her right 
hand some kind of wand or spray, which has 
nearly worn off, and in her left a bunch of corn or 
grapes, or something of that kind which has also 
badly worn away. If the first figure may be con- 
sidered to represent Peace, this one may perhaps 
be Plenty. She wears a deep purplish skirt, with 
full over-garment and body of the same colour, 
with an under-jacket of white and gold. On her 




;6 — Bible. Loudon, 1619. 




61- 



Emblemes Chrestiens MS 1624. 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 85 

dark hair she has a blue flower with red leaves. 
Her feet are bare. The ground and sky are both 
worked in the same way as the other side. Both 
figures are enclosed in a flat oval border of gold 
thread, broad at the top and narrowing towards 
the foot. In the corners are symmetrical arab- 
esques thickly worked in gold, and within the 
larger spaces in each corner-piece are the ' remains ' 
of feathered caterpillars, now skeleton forms of 
threads only. The back of the book is particu- 
larly good, and most beautifully worked. It is 
divided into five panels, within each of which is 
a conventional flower, a cornflower alternating 
with a carnation, and the colours of all of these 
are marvellously fresh and effective. Among 
embroidered panelled backs it is probably the 
finest specimen existing. 

E7nblemes Chrestiens, par Georgette de Mon- 
tenay. ms. a Lislebourg. [Edinburgh] 
1624. 

Charles i., when he was Prince of Wales, often 
uSed the book-stamps that had been cut for his 
brother Henry, and he also particularly liked the 
triple plume of ostrich feathers. It occurs, as 
has been shown, on one of Prince Henry's 
velvet-bound books, and it forms the central 
design on the satin binding of an exquisite 
manuscript written by Esther Inglis, a celebrated 



86 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

calligraphist, who lived in the seventeenth century. 
It is a copy of the Einblenies Chrestiens, by 
Georgette de Montenay, dedicated to Prince 
Charles, covered in red satin embroidered with 
gold and silver threads, cords, and guimp, 
with a few pearls, measuring ii^ by yf inches. 
In the centre is the triple ostrich plume within 
a coronet, enclosed in an oval wreath oi laurel 
tied with a tasselled knot. A rectangular border 
closely filled with arabesques runs parallel to the 
edges of the boards, and there is a fleuron at each 
of the inner corners. In all cases the design is 
outlined in gold cord, and the thick parts of the 
design are worked in silver guimp.' There are 
several spangles, and on the rim of the coronet 
are three pearls. 

New Testament. London, 1625. 

One of the most curious embroidered satin 
bindings still left is now in the Bodleian Library, 
and a slightly absurd tradition about it says that 
the figure oi David, which certainly is something 
like Charles i., is clothed in a piece of a waistcoat 
that belonged to that king. 

It is a New Testament, printed in London in 
1625, and covered in white satin, with a different 
design embroidered on each side. It measures 4^ 
by 3^ inches. On the upper board is David with 
a harp. He wears a long red cloak lined with 




CI 



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CO 



^^r^^^:^^,<^^v>V^vv^^%-v^ v^^Tv^^ 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 87 

ermine, with a white collar, an under-garment 
of pale brown, and high boots with spur- 
straps and red tops. On his head is a royal 
crown of gold with red cap, and he is playing 
upon a golden harp. The face of this figure 
resembles that of Charles i. The red cloak 
is worked in needlepoint lace, and is in deep 
folds in high relief. These folds are actually 
modelled in waxed paper, the needlework being 
stretched over them, and probably fixed on by 
a gentle heat. The other parts of the dress 
are worked in the same way, but without the 
waxed paper, and the edges of the garments 
are in some places marked with what might be 
called a metal fringe, made in a small recurring 
pattern. 

David is standing upon a grass plot, repre- 
sented by small arches of green purl, and before 
him is sitting a small dog with a blue collar. 
Above the dog is a small yellow and black pansy, 
then a large blue 'lace' butterfly, on a chenille 
patch, and a brown flying bird. Behind David 
there is a tall conventional lily and a flying bird. 
The sky is overcast with heavy clouds of red and 
blue, but a golden sun with tinsel rays is showing 
under the larger of them. On the lower board 
is a representation of Abraham about to sacri- 
fice Isaac. Abraham is dressed in a red under- 
garment on waxed paper, in heavy folds with 
a belt and edge of stamped-out metal, a blue 



88 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

flowing cape and high boots, all worked in needle- 
point lace in coloured silks. 

In his right hand he holds a sword, and his 
tall black hat is on the ground beside him. On 
the ground towards the left is Isaac in an attitude 
of prayer, his hands crossed, with two sheaves of 
firewood. He wears a red coat with a small blue 
cape. The ground is green and brown chenille. 
Above Isaac is a gourd, and above this a silver 
ram caught in a bush, on a patch of grass indi- 
cated by green purl. The sky is occupied by a 
large cloud, out of which leans an angel with 
wings, the hands outstretched and restraining 
Abraham's sword. 

On the back are four panels, containing respec- 
tively from the top a butterfly, a rose, a bird, 
and a yellow tulip, all worked in needlepoint 
and appliqud. The pieces that are in high 
relief all over the book are edged with gold 
twist, and have moreover their counterparts under 
them closely fastened down to the satin. There 
are several gold spangles in the various spaces 
between the designs ; the whole is edged with a 
strong silver braid, and there are two clasps with 
silver attachments. 

Considering the high relief in which much of 
this work is done, the binding is in wonderful 
preservation, but many of the colours are badly 
faded, as it has been exposed to the action of 
light in one of the show-cases for many years. 




39 — New Testament and Psalms. London, 1630. 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 89 

Although no doubt it is advisable to expose 
many treasures in this way, it must be admitted 
that in the case of embroidered books it is fre- 
quently, if not always, a cause of rapid deteriora- 
tion, so much so that I should almost think in 
these days of good chromo-printing it would 
be worth the while of the .ruling powers of our 
great museums to consider whether it would 
not be wiser to exhibit good colour prints to 
the light and keep the precious originals in safe 
obscurity, to be brought out, of course, if required 
by students. 

4 

New Testament mtd Psalms. London, 1630. 

Several small English books of the seventeenth 
century were bound ' double,' i.e. two volumes 
side by side, so as to open different ways (com- 
pare p. 38). Each of the books, which are always 
of the same size, has a back and one board to 
itself, the other board, between them, being 
common to both. As already stated, this form 
of book occurs rarely in canvas bindings, and it 
is of commoner occurrence in satin. 

A design which is frequently met with is well 
shown in the case of a double specimen containing 
the New Testament and the Psalms, printed in 
London in 1630, and covered in white satin, 
measuring ^\ by 2 inches, the ornamentation 
being the same on both sides. In the centre, in 

M 



90 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

an oval, is a delicately worked iris of many colours 
in feather-stitch, the petals edged with fine silver 
cord. The oval is marked by a silver cord, beyond 
which are ornamental arabesques outlined in cord 
and filled in solidly, in high relief, with silver 
thread. 

The backs are divided into five panels, contain- 
ing alternately flowers in red, blue, and green silks, 
and star shapes in silver thread in high relief. 
Silver spangles have been freely used, but most 
of them have now gone ; the edges of the leaves 
are gilt and gauffred in a simple dotted pattern. 
To the middle of the front edge of one of the 
boards is attached a long green ribbon of sUk 
which wraps round both volumes. 

Henshaw, HorcB Successivce. London, 1632. 

l^tXi'^2.\NsHorceSuccessi'vcE, printed in London 
in 1632, is bound in white satin, and measures 
4I by 2 inches. It is very delicately and prettily 
worked in a floral design, the same on both sides, 
and is remarkable for its simplicity — a flower 
with stalk and leaves in the centre, one in each 
corner, and an insect in the spaces between them. 
The centre flower is a carnation, round it are 
pansy, rose, cornflower, and strawberry, while 
between them are a caterpillar, snail, butterfly, 
and moth. All of these are delicately worked 
in feather-stitch in the proper colours, and edged 




40— Henshaw, Horae Successiva;. London, 1632. 







o 

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o 



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C 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 91 

all round with fine gold cord ; the stalks are of 
the same cord used double. On the strawberries 
there is some fine knotted work. 

The back is divided into four panels, containing 
a cornflower, rose, pansy, and strawberry, worked 
exactly in the same way as their prototypes on 
the sides. There were several gold spangles on 
sides and back, but many of them have been 
broken off, and on the front edges of each board 
are the remains of pale green ties of silk. 

Psalms. London, 1633. 

A copy of the Psalms, printed in London in 
1633, is bound in white satin, embroidered in 
coloured silks worked in satin-stitch, and measures 
3 by 2 inches. On the upper board is a gentleman 
dressed in the style of the period, with trunk hose 
of red and yellow, a short jacket of the same 
colouring, and a long, reddish cape. He has a 
broad-brimmed hat with coloured feathers, a large 
white collar, and a sword in his right hand. Near 
him is a beetle, and in the sky a blue cloud, and 
he is standing upon a grass mound. On the 
lower board is the figure of a lady in a deep pink 
dress, with white collar and cap. She holds a 
tall red lily in her right hand, and in the upper 
left-hand corner is a small cloud under which the 
sun is just appearing, and in the lower corner is 
a small flower. The lady is standing upon a 



92 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

small green mound. The outlines of both figures, 
as well as the inner divisions between the vari- 
ous garments, are marked with a gold or silver 
thread. 

The back is divided into four panels, in which 
are a fly, a rose, a larger fly, and a blue flower. 
The outlines and legs of both the insects were 
marked originally with small pieces of peacocks' 
feathers, but the upper fly has lost most of these ; 
the lower one, however, more ornamental, shows 
them clearly, and has the thorax still in excellent 
preservation, glittering with little points of green 
and gold. There is one broad ribbon of striped 
silk attached to the lower board. 

This little book, which is in a wonderful state 
of preservation, has been always kept in the 
beautiful embroidered bag which I have described 
already on p. i6. 

Psalms. London, 1635. 

One of the most finely embroidered bindings 
existing on satin occurs on a small copy of the' 
Psalms, printed in London in 1635, and measur- 
ing 2>\ by 3 inches. The design is one which 
has been repeated in other sizes with small differ- 
ences. There is a larger specimen at the Bodleian, 
but the British Museum example is the finer 
altogether. 

On each side there is an oval containing an 




42 — Psalms. London, 163; 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 93 

elaborate design most delicately worked in feather- 
stitch, the edges and outlines marked with very 
fine gold twist. On the upper board there is a 
seated allegorical figure with cornucopia, probably 
representing Plenty. Behind her is an orna- 
mental landscape with a piece of water, the bright 
lines of which are feelingly rendered with small 
stitches of silver thread, hills with trees, and a 
castle in the distance. The other side has a 
similarly worked figure of Peace, a seated figure 
holding a palm branch ; the landscape is of a 
similar character to that on the upper board, but 
the river or lake has a bridge over it. The work 
itself is of the same very delicate kind, the edges 
and folds of the dress being marked with fine 
gold twist. 

Each of these ovals is marked by a solid 
framework with scrolls, strongly made with silver 
threads, and in high relief; in each corner is a 
very finely worked flower or fruit, pansy, straw- 
berry, tulip, and lily. The back is divided into 
four panels, a very decorative conventional flower 
being worked in each, representing probably a 
red lily, a tulip, a blue and yellow iris, and a 
daffodil. The edges of the boards are bound 
with a broad silver braid, the edges of the leaves 
are gilded and prettily gauffred, and there are 
remains of four silver ties. 



94 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

Psalms. London, 1633. 

There is often much speculation as to who 
can have worked the English embroidered books, 
and it is very rarely that any reliable information 
on this interesting point is available. 

There is, however, a manuscript note in a copy 
of the Psalms, printed in 1633 ^^^ bound in em- 
broidered white satin, that the work upon it was 
done by ' Elizabeth, wife of Matthew Wren, Bishop 
of Ely,' who was an uncle of the architect. The 
volume still belongs to a member of the family, 
Dr. W. T. Law of Portland Place, who has most 
kindly allowed me to give an illustration of this 
beautiful book. It measures 4 by 3 inches. The 
design is different in details on each board, the 
central design, however, being in each case con- 
tained within a strongly worked gold border in 
high relief, widening out at each extremity into 
a crownlike form, and richly augmented at 
intervals with clusters of seed pearls. On the 
upper board within the oval is a double rose with 
curving stem, leaves, and a bud ; the petals are 
worked in needlepoint, with fine gold twist at the 
edges, and a cluster of pearls in the centre. In the 
upper corners are a butterfly, with needlepoint 
wings, and a bird, with needlepoint wing and tail. 
In the lower corners are a unicorn and an antlered 
stag, both recumbent, and in high relief. 

On the lower board within the oval is a vine, 




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Oh 



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BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 95 

with curving stem and two large grape clusters, 
tendrils, and leaves, growing from a small green 
mound. The edges of the petals are bound with 
a fine gold twist, as are also the edges and out- 
lines of the leaves, and most of these parts are 
worked in coloured silks, mixed with fine metal 
threads, in needlepoint lace-stitch. 

A few hazel-nuts are scattered about outside 
the gold oval, and in each corner is a further 
ornamentation : a reddish butterfly with wings of 
needlepoint lace in relief and edged with a gold 
cord, a green parrot with red wings and tail, are 
in the two top corners, and in the two lower are a 
rabbit and a dog, each on a small green ground. 
Innumerable gold spangles are all over the sides 
and back, each kept in place by a small pearl 
stitched through. 

The back is divided into five panels, by rows 
of pearls, and a conventional flower is in each, 
except the centre one which has an insect. These 
are all worked in needlepoint and edged with 
gold twist, the stems of some of them strongly 
made by a kind of braid of gold cords. 

This little book is certainly one of the most 
ornamental specimens of any of the smaller satin- 
bound books of the seventeenth century, and 
although here and there some of the pearls are 
gone, altogether it is in very good condition, and 
it is rarely that such a fine example can now be 
met with in private hands. 



96 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

Bible. London, 1638. 

Several of the embroidered books on satin are 
worked chiefly in metal threads, and the designs 
on such books are not as a rule good. Whether 
the knowledge that the work was to be executed 
in strong threads has hampered the designer or 
not cannot be said, but certainly there is often a 
tinselly effect about these bindings that is not 
altogether pleasing. 

In the case of a Bible printed in London in 
1638, bound in white satin, and measuring 6 by 
3 inches, one of the chief ornaments is a cherub's 
head, the face in silver and the hair and wings in 
gold. The working of this head and wings seems 
to me wrong. The face is, possibly enough, as 
well done as the material would allow, but 
the hair is made in small curls of gold thread, 
and the feathers of the wings are rendered in 
a naturalistic way with pieces of flat gold braid. 
This kind oi realism is out of place in em- 
broidery, and it is unfortunately characteristic 
of the English embroidered work of about this 
period, occurring generally on boxes, mirror 
frames, or the like, but only rarely on book-covers. 
The design is the same on both sides ; a narrow 
arch of thick gold cord reaches about three- 
quarters up the side, and interwoven with it is a 
kind of cusped oval, with leaves, reaching up to 
the top of the book. The lower half of the arch 



0if ^*^^*" 




44 — Bible. London, 1638. 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 97 

is enclosed in a rectangular band of silver threads, 
broad and kept in place by transverse bars at 
regular intervals, and beyond it another row, 
made of patches of red and blue silk alternately. 
In the lower part of the oval is a ground of green 
silk, on which grow two double roses made of red 
purl. In the space enclosed between the top of 
the arch and the lower point of the oval is a bird 
worked in high relief in gold with a touch of red 
silk on his wings. Over the bird is a blue cloud, 
heavily worked in blue silk, and beneath is a 
small grass plot. The cherub's head already 
described is in the space between the top of the 
arch and the upper extremity of the oval ; it is 
flanked by two small red purl roses. The two 
upper corners have undulating clouds in blue 
silk, and a red and yellow purl rose between them. 
There are several gold spangles all about, and 
innumerable small pieces of coloured purl. 

The back is divided into four panels, in which 
are, alternately, a rose-tree on which are two red 
roses with yellow centres and green leaves, grow- 
ing from a grass plot, and a blue rose with 
yellow centre and green leaves under a red cloud 
with silver rays. There are several spangles and 
some small pieces of coloured purl scattered 
about in the spaces. 

The book is in excellent condition, owing, no 
doubt, to the fact that most of it is in metal, but 
it is representative of the lowest level to which the 

N 



98 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

art of the embroidered book in England has ever 
fallen. 

Psalms. London, 1639. 

A charming little piece of delicate workman- 
ship occurs in a copy of the Psalms, printed in 
London in 1639, and bound in white satin. It 
measures 3 by 2 inches. The design on each 
side is the same, but the work is slightly dif- 
ferent. A tall rose-tree, with gold stem, grows 
from a small chenille base, the rose petals 
beautifully worked in the finest of stitches, as 
well as the leaves, all of which are outlined with 
fine gold thread. From the lower branches of 
the rose-tree hang on one side a violet, and on 
the other a pansy, each worked in the same way 
as the rose, and edged with fine gold thread. 
The back is divided into four panels, containing 
respectively a cornflower, a pomegranate, a fruit, 
perhaps meant for an apple, and a honeysuckle, 
all conventionally treated and very delicately 
worked. The edge is bound all round with a 
strong braid, and there is one tie of broad, 
cherry-silk ribbon. With this book is its can- 
vas bag, embroidered in silver ground with 
coloured-silk flowers and tassels of silver, the 
general design and workmanship of which nearly 
resembles that of the finer bag already described 
at page 16. The silver has turned nearly black, 
as is usually the case with these bags. 




45 — Psalms. London, 1639. 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 99 

The Way to True Happiness. 
London, 1639. 

A copy of The Way to True Happiness, 
printed in London in 1639, is bound in white 
satin, and embroidered with figures of David and 
a Queen. It is a little larger than the majority 
of the satin-embroidered books, measuring 7 by 
df\ inches, and is, for its time, a very fine speci- 
men. Both figures stand under an archway with 
columns, all worked heavily in silver cord, guimp, 
and thread. The columns have ornamental capi- 
tals and a spiral running round their shafts, and 
the upper edge of the arch is ornamented with 
crockets of a peculiar shape. Within this arch- 
way, on the upper cover, is a full-length figure 
of a Queen, finely worked in split-stitch with 
coloured silks. She wears a red dress with long, 
falling sleeves, a purple body and gold collar. 
On her head is a golden crown, with six points. 
She carries, in her left hand, a golden sceptre, 
and has also a golden belt. The outlines are 
everywhere marked either with a gold or silver 
twist. On the ground, which is in small hillocks, 
grow a strawberry and two other small plants ; 
a snail is also shown. Scattered about the field 
are a ' skeleton ' caterpillar — at one time probably 
filled in with peacocks' feathers, — a conventional 
lily, a butterfly, and the sun, with rays, just 
appearing from under a cloud. In the two upper 



loo ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

corners are flowers, a pansy and another, and 
smaller ones down each side. 

On the lower board, within the arch, is a 
figure of David. He wears a short tunic of 
orange and silver, with vandyked edge, and a 
short skirt of blue and silver, with a long cloak 
of cream, pink, and silver, clasped with a silver 
brooch ; on his head he wears a silver crown, 
with a red cap and green and red feathers ; on 
his feet are brown, high boots. In his left hand 
is a silver harp of ornamental pattern, and in his 
right a silver sceptre with a little gold about it. 
The ground, in hillocks, has a few small flowers 
growing upon it, and a large tulip is just in front 
of the King; on the field are also a moth and 
a snail. At the top is a blue cloud. The upper 
corners have a red and yellow tulip and a pansy 
with bud in them, and smaller flowers are worked 
down each side. The back is very tastefully 
ornamented with an undulating scroll of gold 
cord, widening out here and there into con- 
ventional leaves of gold guimp in relief. On this 
scroll are sitting three birds, and there are also 
a bunch of grapes, a tulip, daffodil, and other 
flowers with leaves, conventionally treated, all 
worked in coloured silks. 

There are the remains of two red and 
yellow silk ties on the front edges of each 
board, and the edges of the leaves are gilded 
and gauffred. With this book is a canvas bag, 




o 

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BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN loi 

simply ornamented with a design worked in red 
silk. 

New Testament. London, 1640. 

The curious little New Testament of 1625, now 
at Oxford, which I have already described, is per- 
haps the earliest example left on which needle- 
point lace in coloured silks is much employed. 

It occurs again largely on another small 
New Testament, printed in 1640, bound in white 
satin, measuring 4-^ by 2\ inches ; now in the 
British Museum. In this case the artist has not 
attempted the difficult task of producing a satis- 
factory figure in needlework, but has very properly 
limited her skill to the reproduction of flower and 
animal forms. On the upper cover is a spray of 
columbine, the petals of which, pink and blue, 
are each worked separately in needlepoint lace 
stitch, and afterwards tacked on to a central rib. 
The stalks and leaves of this spray are also 
worked in needlepoint, and on the top sits a 
bullfinch, worked in many colours in the same 
way, but fastened down close to the satin all 
round. In the corners are a beetle, a nondescript 
flower, a bud, and a butterfly with coloured wings 
in needlepoint, with replicas of them closely 
appliquds just underneath, on the satin. On the 
lower board is a spray of a five-petalled blue 
flower, the petals of which were originally worked 
in needlepoint and fastened on a central rib, but 



I02 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

they have now all gone except two, leaving the 
rib of thick pink braid. The supporting replicas 
underneath are, however, perfect, showing what 
the original upper petals were like. This spray 
has two leaves, exquisitely worked in needle- 
point, and fastened by a stitch at one end, with 
the usual flat replicas underneath them, and there 
is also a bud. The stem is a piece of green 
braid. Above the spray is a parrot in needle- 
point, most of him fastened down round the 
edges, but his wings and tail left free. In 
the upper corner are two strawberries, and in 
the lower a butterfly, with coloured wings, left 
free in needlepoint. There are also two cater- 
pillars on this side. 

On the back are three large flowers heavily 
worked in silk and metal threads, in needlepoint, 
and appliquds — a pansy, lily, and rose, with stalks 
of green braid. The boards are edged all round 
with a gold braid, and there are two green silk 
ties on each for the front edges. There are 
several gold spangles all about, but many more 
have gone. The work on both boards is very 
delicate, but that on the back is curiously coarse. - 
Such imitative work as the needlepoint, which 
is perhaps seen at its best in the columbine, 
and the leaves on this book, is at all times a 
dangerous thing to use, except when it is only 
used as appliqu^, as in the beautiful cover be- 
longing to this book, which I have described on 




^8— Psalms. London, 1641, 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 103 

page 18, and the work on which is very likely 
by the same skilled hand as that on the book. 
I believe this use of the needlepoint, or button- 
hole stitch, is only found in English work ; it is 
exactly the same as is used on the old Venetian 
and other so-called ' point ' laces, but executed in 
fine-coloured silk instead of linen thread, and 
without open spaces. 

Psalms. London, 1641. 

Nicholas Ferrar's establishment at Little 
Gidding in Huntingdonshire is often credited 
with having produced embroidered books, but 
there is really wo authority for the belief. All 
the authentic bindings which came from Little 
Gidding have technical shortcomings from a 
bookbinding point of view, none of which are 
found on any embroidered books. 

In the History of the Worthies of England, 
by Thomas Fuller, there is a short note about 
Little Gidding, and he says about the ladies there 
that ' their own needles were emploied in learned 
and pious work to binde Bibles.' This note and 
the mention of needles may have perhaps given 
the start to the belief that embroidered work was 
intended, but in all probability it only refers 
to the sewing of the leaves of the books upon the 
bands of the back, which is done with needle and 
thread. Moreover, the ladies of Little Gidding 



I04 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

did actually sew the backs of their books in a 
needlessly elaborate way, putting in ten or twelve 
bands where three or four would have been ample. 
I also think that if embroidery had been intended 
by the sentence above quoted, it would have been 
more clearly mentioned. To ' emploie needles to 
bind Bibles ' is hardly the description one would 
expect if the meaning was that when bound the 
Bibles were covered in embroidered work ; but 
it may be safely interpreted as it is written, the 
sewing being a most important part of a book- 
binding, and one likely to be much thought of by 
amateur binders, as the nieces of Nicholas Ferrar 
were. 

The attribution of embroidered bindings to 
Little Gidding may also have been strengthened 
by the fact that many of the bindings made there 
are in velvet, the ornamentation on which, though 
it is actually stamped in gold and silver, does to 
some extent suggest embroidery. Indeed, I have 
myself heard the remark, on showing one of these 
books, 'Oh, yes! Embroidery.' 

Again, a peculiarity of the Little Gidding 
books is, generally, their large size, whereas the 
embroidered books, especially the satin ones, are 
usually very small. 

One of the embroidered books thus wrongly 
credited to Little Gidding is a Psalter, printed 
in London in 164 1. It is bound in white satin, 
very tastefully embroidered, the same design 







O 

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BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 105 

being on each side, and measures 4 by 2 inches. 
In the centre is a large orange tulip, shading from 
yellow to red, finely worked in silks in shading- 
stitch. The stem is outlined in gold cord, and 
has also symmetrical curves and leaves, some 
of which are filled in with silver guimp. The 
flower is enclosed in an ornamental scroll and 
leaf border, all made with gold threads and twists, 
and having leaf forms in relief at intervals in 
silver guimp. The back has five panels, orna- 
mented alternately with guimp scrolls and small 
spheres of coloured silk. There have been 
spangles and small pieces of guimp scattered 
about on the sides and back, but most of them 
have gone. There are no ties, and the edges of 
the leaves are gilt, and have a small gauffred 
pattern upon them. 

The design of this book is extremely simple 
and effective ; the fine stitching on the tulip con- 
trasts well with the strong metal border enclosing 
it. It may be considered a favourable specimen 
of the commonest type of satin embroidered books 
of the seventeenth century. It is not in very 
good condition. 

Psalms. London, 1643. 

A very quaint design embroidered on white 
satin covers a copy of the Psalms, printed in 
London in 1643, and measuring \\ by 3I 



io6 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

inches. On the upper side is a representation of 
Jacob wrestling with the angel, flanked by two 
trees with large leaves ; the angel has wings and 
long petticoats. The lower board has a represen- 
tation of Jacob's dream. The patriarch is asleep 
on the grass, his head upon a white stone, his 
staff and gourd by his side. He has pale hair 
and beard. Behind him is a large tree, and in 
front a conventional flower with leaves and bud, 
and from the clouds reaches a ladder on which 
are three small winged angels, two coming down, 
and one between them going up. Through a 
break in the clouds is seen a bright space, 
with rays of golden light proceeding from it. 

The back is divided into five panels, in each 
of which is a flower. These resemble, to some 
extent, a red tulip, a lily, a red dahlia, a yellow 
tulip, and a red rose. The work here is not 
protected by any strong or metal threads, and it 
is consequently much worn. There are no signs 
of any tie ribbon, and the edges are plainly gilt. 

Psalms. London, 1643. 

Another copy of the Psalms, printed in 
London in 1643, bound in satin, and measuring 
3J by 2.\ inches, bears on each side, within a 
circle, a miniature portrait of Charles i. worked 
in feather-stitch. The king wears long hair, 
moustache, and small pointed beard. He is 




50 — Psalms. London, 164- 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 107 

crowned, and has a red cloak with miniver tippet, 
from under which appears the blue ribbon of the 
Garter worn round the neck, as it originally was, 
and having a small gold medallion attached to it. 
The initials C. R. in gold guimp are at each side. 
The circle is enclosed in a strong framework of 
silver cord and guimp in the form of four thin 
long pointed ovals of leaf form arranged as a 
diamond. The four triangular spaces between 
the diamond and the oval are filled with small 
flowers or small pieces of guimp and spangles. 
Towards each corner grows a flower, two pansies, 
and two others with regular petals. The remain- 
ing spaces are filled variously with green leaves, 
small patches of purl and gold spangles, and a 
strong gold cord encloses the whole. The back 
is divided into three panels, in each of which is 
an ornamental conventional flower, the upper and 
lower ones alike, and worked in shades of red 
with guimp leaves in relief, and the centre one 
with six petals worked in yellow and edged with 
a fine gold cord. There are no signs of ties ever 
having existed, and the edges of the leaves are 
gilt and slightly gauffred. It has been suggested 
that this little book may have belonged to King 
Charles i. ; but the fact of his portrait being upon 
it is no proof of this, as portraits of this king 
are more numerous upon the bindings of English 
books than those of any other person. 



io8 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

Psalms. London, 1646. 

The value of ' purl ' was recognised some few 
years back, when I had some made, and explained 
its value and use to the Royal School of Art 
Needlework at South Kensington, and I believe 
they used it considerably. 

On books the use of purl is generally auxiliary, 
but one small book bound in white satin, and 
measuring 4 by 2.\ inches, a copy of the Psalms, 
printed in London in 1646, is entirely embroidered 
in this material, helped with gold braid and cord. 
The design is approximately the same on each 
side, a large flower with leaves in the centre, and 
a smaller flower in each corner. On the upper 
cover the centre flower is yellow and red, with 
two large green leaves, and the corner flowers are, 
possibly, intended for a cornflower, a jonquil, a 
lily, and a rose, but the material is so unwieldy 
that the forms are difficult to trace, and flowers 
worked in it are likely to assume forms that 
are unrecognisable, when finished, however well 
designed to start with. All the flowers and leaves 
are made with the purl cut into short lengths, 
drawn together at the ends by a thread run 
through, thus forming a succession of small 
arches. The stalks are made in gold cord. The 
flowers on the other side are, perhaps, a carnation 
in the centre, and round it a convolvulus, lily, 
daflbdil, and rose. The back is divided into five 



pj>^mrwp*'<.: 




2, — Psalms. London, 1646. 




52 — Bible. London, 1646. 



BOOKS BOUND IN SATIN 109 

panels, in each of which is a ' purl ' flower, all 
worked in the same way, representing successively 
a tulip, cornflower, carnation, lily, rose, or some- 
thing analogous to them ; round the designs are 
straight pieces of brown purl, and the edges are 
bound with a broad gold braid. There are no 
ties or signs of any, and the edges are simply 
gilt. The purl is undoubtedly very strong ; I 
possess a small patch-box worked on white satin 
in a similar way to this little book, and although 
it has been roughly used for some two hundred 
and fifty years, the colour of the purl is still good ; 
the upper surfaces of the small spirals, however, 
show the copper wire bare almost everyu'here. 
The book, not having had anything like the hard 
wear, is in very good condition, but it is too small 
for the proper use of so much thick thread. The 
larger leaves and petals are made in relief by 
being sewn on over a few pieces of purl laid 
underneath them at right angles. 

Bible. London, 1646. 

A Bible printed in London in 1646 is bound 
in white satin, and embroidered in coloured silks 
and gold braid and cord, measuring 6 by 3^ 
inches. The same design is on both sides. In 
the centre within an oval of gold braid and cord 
is a spray of vine, with two bunches of grapes, 
three leaves and a tendril, the fruit and leaves 



no ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 

worked in silk, and the stem in gold cord. En- 
closing the oval is an arabesque design worked in 
gold cord and guimp, and at each corner is an 
oval of thin gold strips and gold cord ; the gold 
strips are done in the manner known as ' lizzard- 
ing,' and are kept down by small stitches at 
intervals. 

The back has four panels, in each of which is 
an arabesque design in coloured silks and gold 
cord or braid. Although this book is com- 
paratively late, it is in a bad condition, and 
shows much wear ; the design also is weak, and 
the workmanship inferior. 




INDEX 



Appliqu^ Awork, remarks on, 24. 
Arthur, Prince of Wales, ostrich feather 

badge used by, 73. 
Bacon's ' Essays' (1625), 76 ; ' Works ' 

(1623), 75- 
Bags for embroidered books, 16. 
Berthelet, Thomas, bookbinder and 

printer, 74, 80. 
Bible, 1543 ed., 54; 1583 ed., 67; 

1590 ed., 70; 1612 ed., 39; 1619 ed., 

84 ; 1626 ed., 45 ; 1638 ed., 96 ; 

1642 ed., 48 ; 1646 ed., 109 ; 1648 

ed., 49 ; 1674 ed., 78. 
Biblioth^que Nationale, embroidered 

books in the, 20. 
Bodleian Library, embroidered books 

in the, 25. 
Brassington, Mr. W. Salt, i. 
Brion, Martin de, ' Tr^s ample descrip- 
tion de la Terre Sainte,' 52. 
British Museum, embroidered books 

in the, 25, 27. 
Broiderers, hints for, 21. 
Buckingham, Duke of, portrait on 

' Bacon's Essays, 1625,' 76. 
Canvas bindings, 6, 7, 28-51. 
Charles I., portrait on 'Psalms, 1643,' 

106. 
Charles 11., badge on 'Common 

Prayer, 1638,' 77 ; 'Emblemes Chres- 

tiens, 1624,' 86. 
'Christian Prayers,' 1570 ed., 59 ; 1581 

ed., 37; 1584 ed., 65. 
Christopherson, Bishop of Chichester, 

'Historia Ecclesiastica' (1569), 57. 



Collection of Sixteenth Century Tracts 

(1536), 80; (1610), 72. 
'Common Prayer, 1638' (other editions 

are with 'Psalms'), 77. 
Covers for embroidered books, 18. 
' Daily Exercise of a Christian, 1623,' 

44- 
Day, John, printer, 61. 

Derome le Jeune, French bookbinder, 
12. 

Dibdin's ' Bibliomania,' mention of 
Queen Elizabeth's embroidery in, 
64. 

' Double Books,' 38, 89. 

Dutch embroidered books, 20. 

Edges, ornamentally treated, 16. 

Elizabeth, Queen, arms embroidered, 
57, 72, 81 ; books embroidered by, 
26, 32, 33, 35, 36. 

Embroidered books, definition of, 3. 

'Epistles of St. Paul, 1578,' 63. 

' Felbrigge Psalter,' 26, 29. 

Ferrar, Nicholas, 103. 

Fitzhugh, heraldic supporter, 56. 

Fletcher, Mr. W. Y., i. 

Floral designs, 5, 6 ; and on the fol- 
lowing books : ' Miroir of the Soul ' 
(1544), 32; 'Prayers of Q. Kath. 
Parr' (1545), 33; Parker, ' De An- 
tiq. Ecc. Britannicas' (1572), 60; 
'Prayers' (1581), 37; 'Prayers' 
(1584), 66; 'Orationis Dominicas 
Explicatio' (1583), 67; 'Psalms,' 
etc. (1606), 38; 'Bible' (1619), 85; 
'Daily Exercise of a Christian' 



112 ENGLISH EMBROIDERED BINDINGS 



(1623), 44; Henshaw, 'Horse Suc- 
cessive ' (1632), 90 ; ' Psalms' (1633), 
94; 'Bible (1638), 96; 'Psalms' 
(1639), 98; 'Psalms' (1641), 104; 
•Psalms' (1646), 108. 

Forwarding of embroidered books, 11. 

French embroidered books, 20. 

Fuller, Thomas, 103. 

Gauffred edges, 16. 

George 11., gift of the Royal Library to 
the British Museum in 1757, 25. 

George IH., his books largely rebound, 

5- 

Grenville, Right Hon. Thomas, his 
books largely rebound, 5. 

Guimp, description of, g. 

Headbands, 15. 

Henry vrii., arms on embroidered 
book, 52. 

Henry Benedict, Cardinal York, 19. 

Henry, Prince of Wales, his use of the 
ostrich feather badge, 85 ; badge 
upon 'Tracts, 1610,' 73, 77, 86. 

Henshaw's ' Horas Successivae,' 90. 

Heraldic designs, 5, 6 ; Anns of 
Henry Vlli., 52 ; Katherine Parr, 
55 ; Elizabeth, 57, 72, 81 ; Badges 
of Queen Mary, 57 ; Prince of 
Wales, 73, 77, 86 ; Crest of Vaughan, 

59- 
Inglis, Esther, calligraphist, 85. 
Italian embroidered bindings, 19. 
James 11., initials on ' Bible, 1674,' 

Law, Dr. W. T., 94. 

Little Gidding, ' Needlework' done at, 

103. 
Lizzarding, description of, 8. 
Macray, Rev. W. D., 33, 64. 
Magnus, of Amsterdam, bookbinder, 

10. 



Martyr, Peter, ' Commonplaces,' 69. 
Mary, Queen, badge on ' Psalter,' 

57. 
Metal threads, 8, 29. 
' Miroir of the Synneful Soul,' 32. 
Montenay, Georgette, 'Emblemes 

Chrestiens,' 85. 
New Testament, 1576 ed., 81; 1625 

ed., 42 ; 1630 ed., 89 ; 1640 ed., 

lOI. 

'Orationis Dominicse Explicatio,' 1583, 

67. 
Ostrevant, badge of the province of, 

73. 

Ostrich feather badge of the Princes 
of Wales, origin of the, 73 ; on em- 
broidered bindings, 73, 77, 86. 

Parr, Queen Katherine, arms on ' Pe- 
trarcha, 1544,' 55; Prayers written 
by, 33- 

Parker, Archbishop, 'De Antiquitate 
Ecclesiae Britannicae,' 60. 

Peacocks' feathers used in embroi- 
deries, 82. 

Pearls used in embroidered bindings : 
Brion (1540), 52; Christopherson 
(1569), 57; Parker (1572), 60; 'New 
Testament' (1576), 81; 'Bible' 
(1583), 67; 'Bible' (1590), 70; 
'Tracts' (16 10), 72 ; Montenay 
(1624), 85; 'Psalms' (1633), 94; 
'Common Prayer' (1638), 77. 

'Petrarcha, 1544,' 55. 

Pomegranate badge on Queen Mary's 
' Psalter,' 57. 

Poncyn, of Amsterdam, bookbinder, 
10. 

Portraits on embroidered books, 5 ; 
Charles I., 106 ; Duke of Bucking- 
ham, 76. 

'Psalms,' 1606 ed., 38; 1633 ed., 91, 



INDEX 



113 



94; 1635 ed., 92; 1639 ed., 98; 
1641 ed., 103; 1643 ed., 105, 106; 
1646 ed., 108. 

Purl, description of, 9, 10, 46 ; book 
embroidered alone with, io8. 

Satin bindings, 7, 8, 80-110. 

Schreiber, the Lady Charlotte, 83. 

Scriptural designs and figures of saints 
used on embroidered books, 5, 6 ; 
Abraham and Isaac, 86 ; the Annun- 
ciation, 29 ; the Crucifixion, 29 ; 
David, 86, 99 ; Jacob's Dream, 
Jacob wrestling with the angel, 39, 
106 ; St. Peter, 45 ; St. Paul, 45 ; 
Solomon and the Queen of .Sheba, 

39- 

Silk bindings, 81. 

South Kensington Museum, embroi- 
dered books in the, 20. 
Spangles, 9, 28. 

Stitches used on embroidered books : 
Buttonhole or Needlepoint lace stitch, 
'New Testament' (1625), 87; 
' Psalms' (1633), 95 ; ' New Testa- 
ment' (1640), loi ; 'Bible' (1642), 
48; 'Bible' (1648), 50. 
CJiain stitch, 'Daily Exercise of a 

Christian' (1623), 44. 
Feather stitch, sometimes called 
Shading stitch, ' Bible' (1626), 45 ; 
'New Testament' (1630), 90; 
Henshaw (1632), 90 ; ' Psalms ' 



(1635), 92 ; ' Psalms ' (1641), 105 ; 
'Psalms' {i'343). lo^- 
Satin stitch, ' Psalms ' (1633), 91. 
Split stitch, 'Felbrigge Psalter' 
(fourteenth century), 30 ; ' Way to 
True Happiness' (1639), 99. 
Tapestry or Tent stitch, 28 ; ' Miroir 
of the Synneful Soul' (1544), 33 ; 
'Prayers' (JS4S). 34 ; 'Prayers' 
(1581), 37; 'Bible' (1612), 39; 
Ward (1626), 41. 
Symbolical figures, 5, 6 ; Faith and 
Hope (1625, 1648), 42, 50; Peace 
and Plenty (1619, 1635), 84, 93. 
Thompson, Mr. H. Yates, 41. 
Udall's 'Sermons,' 71. 
Vaughan crest, on ' Christian Prayers, 

1570,' 59. 
Velvet bindings, 6, 7, 52-79. 
Victoria, Queen, embroidered book 

belonging to, 77. 
Wales, ostrich plumes of the Prince 

of, 73, n, 86. 
Ward, Samuel, ' Sermons, 1626-7,' 4'- 
Water-colours used on embroidered 

bindings, 81-84. 
'Way to True Happiness' (1639), 99. 
Wheatley, Mr. H. B., i. 
Wilton, Countess of, 33, 35, 64. 
Wren, Elizabeth, book embroidered 

by, 94- 
York, Cardinal, 19. 



PRINTED BY T. AND A. CONSTABLE, PRINTERS TO 

HER MAJESTY, AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 

EDINBURGH: MARCH MDCCCXCIX 



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