an armorial binding mystery

Another book from my students’ projects, this one with a curious binding:

At first glance, what you might see is an armorial binding: a binding in which an owner has stamped his arms in gold tooling. No big deal, really; there are plenty of books like those in libraries. But this one is more complicated: there are TWO coats of arms, one stamped on top of the other. Here’s a close-up of the center of the binding, where the arms are:

And here’s the picture again with one of the two arms outlined:
A close-up of the top portion, in which you can see that there are two crowns juxtaposed and the heads of two faintly visible supporters:
Looked at in raking light, you can see that the supporter on the right looks like an antlered stag:

And the supporter on the left looks like a horse:

I can’t make out the details of the arms themselves, but you can see the motto on which the supporters are standing:

My student deciphered it as “fidei coticula crux” and that looks right to me. § continue reading

updates and welcomes

I’ve been swamped recently, so just a quick post with some updates and links:

First, thanks to Lorem Ipsum’s suggestion on my last post about the catalogue entry for James’s Essayes of a prentise, the Folger’s record has now been updated! The author is, of course, James I, as that is the standard form of his name, but the note has been clarified to read “By James VI of Scotland and (later) James I of England, whose name (Jacobus Sextus) is given in an acrostic on A1r.” So thanks to Lorem Ipsum and to Deborah Leslie!

As for the binding, which I suggested might be a presentation copy from James to Burghley, my friend Adam points out that Burghley’s library was rebound in the early 18th century, so surviving presentation copies to either Burghley or his son Robert Cecil, are quite rare. My student had conjectured that this book was not part of Burghley’s library past the mid 1600s since it doesn’t appear in the 1687 Bibliotheca Illustris, which record the contents of the Burghley library put up for sale. § continue reading

essayes of a prentise

Another example of a student project today, this time at the intersection of politics and poetry as well as of England and Scotland: King James’s The Essayes of a prentise, in the divine art of poesie. This book is a collection of poems and translations by James, as well as “A treatise on the airt of Scottis Poesie.” Published in 1584 in Edinburgh, James was then King James VI of Scotland, and net yet King James I of England, a title he didn’t take until 1603, although the book is cataloged by the STC as authored by James I. (The STC record is the source of the Folger’s catalogue entry for the book; there are standardized rules for all cataloging, of course, but it seems to me misleading to think of this work as being by the King of England, rather than an aspirant to that title.)

There are some great things about this book, including the fact that it’s written in a Scots dialect. § continue reading