Part of a Mellors & Kirk (20% buyer’s premium) sale of May 10, this rare edition, limited to just 160 copies, was edited by John Lewis from two early 15th century manuscripts of John Wycliffe’s translation into English of the New Testament, originally completed in 1388.
In manuscript form Wycliffe’s Bible translations had been widely circulated in England, despite being condemned as heretical and officially outlawed in 1409.
Printed by John March of London for Thomas Page, William Mount and William Parker, this folio edition, the two parts here bound as one in panelled calf, also incorporates “…a history of the several translations of the H. Bible and N. Testament, &c. into English, both in MS and print, and of the most remarkable editions of them since the invention of printing”.
The Nottingham copy bears a presentation inscription that reads: “The Gift of the Author to his Worthy Friend Mr Edward Steel of Bromley, Painter 1731.”
Sold for a mid-estimate £22,000 in the Nottingham auction was a time-worn and defective first issue copy of the great King James Bible of 1611.
Lacking the first title, six preliminaries and three New Testament leaves, and an issue without the genealogical tables and map found before Genesis in some copies, it was also soiled, stained and otherwise distressed in a broken binding. It was nonetheless an important and valuable survivor.
Both lots came to auction from St John’s College, Nottingham.