Book History

Author: Bible- N/A. Book of Psalmes- Thomas Sternhold.
Bible- N/A. Book of Psalmes- Thomas Sternhold, died 1549. He was probably from Gloucestershire and is said to have graduated from Christ Church, Oxford. He worked under Cromwell and by 1540 worked in the King’s household, where he continued as a groom of the robes until his death. Sternhold was briefly imprisoned for his protestant beliefs, but by 1545 he had become a Member of Parliament for Plymouth. He received a large lease of property which improved his financial situation and in 1547 became Governor of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. His first collection of paraphrased Psalms included 19 Psalms set to meter and was printed by his friend, and the royal Bible printer, Edward Whitchurch. Sternhold died in 1549 and the same year his work was published posthumously as "Al such Psalmes…as Sterneholde…Didde…Draw into English Meeter." Other paraphrased and metered Psalmes were added to his until 1562 when the complete "The Whole Booke of Psalmes: Collected into English Meeter by Thomas Sternhold, John Hopkins, and others, conferred with the Hebrew" was published. (1)

(1) H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, ed., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford university Press, 2004), 25:543-544.
Bibliographic Information
Bound with a 1655 edition of "The Whole Book of Psalmes: Collected into English Meeter by Thomas Sternhold, John Hopkins, and others, conferred with the Hebrew." 78 pages in "The Whole Book of Psalmes" and "Bible" pages unnumbered. After the title page there is a dedication to King James, unsigned.
Physical Description
Hard-backed binding probably made of pasteboard, and covered in reddish-brown calfskin. The calfskin is extremely dry, giving it a soft, velvety feel, and has worn away on several portions of the spine and cover. The front and back cover are sparsely decorated with a scalloped design around the edges, which appears to have been blind-tooled with hand-stamps. A square of discoloration indicates a piece of decoration or identification used to be pasted on the spine. Front cover measures 174 mm by 113 mm. Pages measure 165 millimeters by 106 mm. The paper is in fairly good condition. The pages were printed in the octavo format, and feature signature markings at the bottom. (1) The edges of the pages are undecorated. The sheets are sewn on to sawn-in cords, giving a flat spine with only slight indications of the cords’ positions underneath. The title page has an architectural design around the title information, including the royal arms at the top and King David at the bottom. (2) The New Testament and Book of Psalmes each have their own title page, with different designs. The margins are very slim on the Bible pages and fairly wide on the Psalmes pages. The Psalmes are printed at a noticeably lower quality than the Bible.

(1) A.S. Herbert, M.A., B.D., Historical Catalogue of Printed Edition of the English Bible 1525-1961 (London: The British and Foreign Bible Society, 1968), 206-207.

(2) Ibid.
Illustrator: N/A
Publisher: N/A
Henry Hills, printer, died 1689. Most information about Henry Hills comes from a “scurrilous” report published in 1684. He was supposedly the son of a ropemaker from Maidstone and served under Thomas Harrison. Harrison apprenticed Hills to another man, but Hills did not stay there long, leaving to become a soldier in the English Civil War. In the late 1640s Hills began a series of equivocations regarding his religious and political beliefs, which allowed him to play both sides of the conflicts going on in England and to always come out with the winning side. He was at various times the official printer for the army, the commonwealth under Cromwell, and the council of state. Hills joined a Baptist community, but lived openly with another man’s wife for some time, before being jailed and fined for his conduct. While in prison, he wrote "The Prodigal Returned to his Father’s House" in which he recanted his crime. He was accepted back into the Baptist community and became a pastor and printer of Baptist works before getting in trouble for misappropriating funds. He supposedly fought in the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and bound his first apprentice in 1654. Two years later he and John Field used their friendship with Cromwell to obtain the rights to print Bibles and Psalms. In 1678 Hills was elected to the governing body of the Stationers’ Company, and became Master of the Company in 1687. In between these two events he converted to Catholicism, which he was faithful to until his death, despite being persecuted for his faith and ousted from leadership in the Stationers’ Company. (1)

(1) H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, ed., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford university Press, 2004), 27:232.
The 1655 edition of The Whole Book of Psalmes exists in twelve libraries around the world. (1) There are numerous other editions of this book, however, as it was extremely popular after its first printing in 1562. There are also a very high number of editions of the King James Bible, so many texts very similar to this one are available. The 1660 edition however, has only two varieties, one printed by Hills and his partner Field and the other printed only by Hills. (2) The University of Mary Washington owns the latter and that particular edition is only present in two libraries worldwide, both of which also own The Whole Book of Psalmes . (3) While neither of these library-owned copies of the 1660 Bible are listed as being bound with The Whole Book of Psalmes, at least one of them includes this second text, as well as other supplementary texts. The University lists its copy simply as the Holy Bible, and the Psalmes are found only on examining the physical book. Both the 1660 Bible and the 1655 Psalmes exist in a few copies owned by rare book sellers or collectors, but neither appears alone. They seem to always be bound with each other, or other religious works such as Biblical maps and genealogies, or The Book of Common Prayer. (4)

(1) search The Whole Book of Psalmes, 1655.

(2) Herbert, Historical Catalogue, 206-207.

(3) search Holy Bible, 1660.

(4) Herbert, Historical Catalogue, 200-210.
Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography: The Classic Manual of Bibliography. Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1972.

Herbert, A. S. Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525-1961. London: The British and Foreign Bible Society, 1968.

Matthew, H. C. G. and Brian Harrison, ed. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 27. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

---------- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 52. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Worldcat search: Holy Bible, 1660. Book.

----------The Whole Book of Psalmes, 1655. Book.
The University of Mary Washington owns, in its rare book collection, a 1660 edition of the King James Translation of "The Holy Bible." This Bible was bound with a 1655 edition of "The Whole Book of Psalmes Collected into English Meeter by Thomas Sternhold." This combination of print items, bound together as one book, appears to be unique, specifically because Henry Hills is listed as the sole printer, instead of with his usual partner John Field. Several other libraries have very similar works, but each library that returned a query email listed a book different from the one the University of Mary Washington owns. This type of religious book is not uncommon from the seventeenth century, but the particular combination of works, together with the material aspects and historical context, make this book an important example of early modern consumer choice. This work demonstrates the opportunity for a buyer to stamp their identity on a physical object.

The uniqueness of this book suggests an origin based on the personal choices of a consumer. There are a number of physical characteristics that lend support to this probable scenario. During the seventeenth century, the consumer would have purchased the two works separately and then had them bound together for ease of use. The physical aspects of this book, including the binding and the variability of the page margins, support this idea. The second text is of a lower printing quality, as evidenced by the crooked page layout and uneven inking. The simplicity and durability of the binding, together with the choice of texts, point strongly to the likelihood that a member of the common class commissioned this book. The Bible was a safe bet for printers and booksellers, because it was practically guaranteed to sell. The Psalmes were also wildly popular at this time, as these were the songs that would be sung in both public and private worship. It is very probable that if an Englishman in the seventeenth century had money for only two texts, these would be at the top of the list.

The King James Bible was the most popular version of the text, quickly surpassing all others in sales after its initial printing in 1611, and thus would have been the obvious choice for the consumer. The multitude of editions that printers pumped out during the seventeenth century is proof that the book industry believed in the selling power, if not the saving power, of the Bible. This intersection of the economic and eternal allows a view of the sacred in a secular light. The act of buying this book would represent a certain achievement on the part of the consumer. Although prices were falling due to technological advancements, this was still an expensive object and it is likely that an individual would save up for such a purchase for some time. Purchasing a Bible, then, could be just as much about show for the “common” man as purchasing anything else could be for a wealthy man. The book acts as a meeting point for a variety of forces, and the object itself becomes a representation of its surroundings. Because of its unique textual and physical composition, the University of Mary Washington’s copy of "The Holy Bible," bound together with "The Complete Book of Psalmes," is an excellent example of the control that early modern consumers exercised in the marketplace, and particularly in the area of print materials.
Title Page of Bible
Submitted by Laura-Michal Balderson
Published: 1660
Call Number: BS185 1660 .L84