Maiden Voyage

Keeping a Web-log or "blog" is not something I ever thought I'd do as a bibliophile, but here I am. Ephemeral, meet durable.

In going through our holdings, I usually just pick up what I find most interesting. Thus there are stacks of books about British sea-weeds and countless books of commonplaces or common prayer that I ignore. When I deem it time to take my medicine, I pick one of these pieces of sea-weed up, and usually manage my find to be engrossed, or at least amused by something.

There's a pretty bible in English (KJV) that sits on a bottom shelf of a book-case obscured by the pretty carved table in the center of the shop. It is unpaginated, which at least makes collation a little easier. I thought the fore-edge was stained, but as I did the collation saw that the marks were polychrome and not at all random. A quick fan of the pages revealed a concealed fore-edge painting: Malmesbury Abbey in vol. I, Byland Abbey in vol. II.

Malmesbury Abbey. Vol. I, fore-edge.

And who is the "LP" whose gilt initials are on the covers?

Detail of the cover of vol. I. Gilt "LP"

The armorial bookplate in vol. I reads "[[ ]] Priestley", i.e., the forename has been erased. Some sleuthing in Burke's reveals that it is Lydia Priestely (née Lea), wife of Joseph Priestley (Esq. of White Windows in Yorkshire; not the famous dissenter, though the family is ultimately the same). Vol. II has the bookplate of Henry Priestley, Lydia and Joseph's second son. Now a plain bible (which turns out to be most rare; only four copies in institutional libraries, and one for sale at Blackwell – though bound with a Book of Common Prayer) is both attractive by reason of the fore-edge paintings (maybe Edwards of Halifax?) and sentimental: a mother's gift, or perhaps an inheritance, to a son who would not inherit White Windows.


Vol. I: binder’s blank, A-Mm8 Nn5(Nn6-8 bound into vol. II), binder’s blank [$4, –A1]. 285 leaves, pp. [1], blank, [2], [566].

Vol. II: binder’s blank, Nn3(i.e., Nn6-8) Oo-Bbb8 Ccc2 Ddd-Rrr8 Sss6 ∗A-∗L8 ∗M4 [$4]. 311 leaves, pp. [201], [2], blank, [234], [184]. Vol. II begins with Isaiah. New Testament with its own title page (Ddd1). Apocrypha begin on ∗A1.